Pakistani bus driver’s son rises to second most powerful position in Britain

Initially published in Geo News by Murtaza Ali Shah on May 1, 2018

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May appointed Pakistani-origin cabinet member Sajid Javid MP as the new home secretary of the United Kingdom.

Javid is the first-ever British Muslim, British Pakistani and ethnic origin politician to get the post — the most important cabinet position after the prime minister’s.

Earlier, Home Secretary Amber Rudd resigned after the government struggled to contain the fallout Windrush scandal over the way it has treated some long-term Caribbean immigrants who have wrongly been labeled illegal immigrants.

Javid, a Member of Parliament for Bromsgrove, was the secretary of state for housing, communities and local government.

His rise to the position of influence is remarkable in many ways. The home secretary’s parents fled to Pakistan at the time of the Subcontinent’s partition in 1947. His father Abdul moved to Britain in 1961 and started work as a bus driver in Rochdale.

Javid says his father arrived at Heathrow from Pakistan in with just £1 in his pocket because his grandfather had “touchingly but mistakenly” thought that the money would be enough to get by in Britain for a month until he found work.

His father worked in a cotton mill in Rochdale and then as a bus driver. Javid’s father was nicknamed as “Mr Night and Day” because he worked day and night and round the week to make both ends meet. Along with his siblings, Javid had lived in a two bedroom flat in inner-city Bristol under poor conditions.

He was the first member of Britain’s South Asian minority to be given a full-time post in the cabinet when he was appointed culture minister in 2014.

Javid, who backed remaining in the European Union during the referendum campaign, is a father of four and reportedly made more than £20 million during his high-flying banking career, which took him across the globe.

Part of the 2010 parliamentary intake, he was quickly made a member of the Work and Pensions Select Committee and his background in finance made him an obvious choice for a job under Chancellor George Osborne. In 2012, he was appointed economic secretary to the Treasury and within two years he became Culture Secretary.

He was made Business Secretary in 2015. After assuming the duties as prime minister in the following year, Theresa May appointed Javid as the Communities Secretary.

Javid worked for Chase Manhattan Bank and for Deutsche Bank before joining politics. He cites the late Conservative prime minister Margaret Thatcher as his political inspiration and has often hung a portrait of her in his ministerial office.

A commentator described Javid as a ‘clever man, a focused man,’ in The Guardian.

“Married to his teenage sweetheart. A father of four. A man without any obvious enemies in his party; a man liked at Number 10 for the robustness of his performances on TV, particularly his robotic ability to repeat “long-term economic plan” until the ears of his listeners are bleeding with boredom; a man with influential admirers in the media and a powerful patron in George Osborne. A man marked out as going places since he arrived in parliament who attained the higher reaches of government a bit quicker thanks to the untragic downfall of Maria Miller. His accelerated promotion into the cabinet makes him the first Tory of the 2010 parliamentary intake to be elevated to the top table. It has been a stellar rise,” wrote the commentator.

Soon after taking charge of the Home Office, Javid said his most “urgent task” was to help the Windrush generation. He said he would review the immigration policy to make sure it was fair and people were treated with “dignity and respect”.

Javid told the Sunday Telegraph over the weekend that the Windrush scandal felt “very personal” to him because he comes from a family of immigrants.

“It could have been me, my mum or my dad,” he said.

In his capacity as Britain’s Secretary of State for Housing, Communities and Local Government Javid addressed March 23 event in London this year and expressed his pride in the creation of Pakistan.

The Conservative Party parliamentarian said that March 23 reminded Pakistanis of the “celebration of the march towards independence.”

“This milestone means a lot to our families and friends, it means a lot to Pakistani Diaspora across the world including British Pakistanis who form one of the largest communities outside of Pakistan”.

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