Pakistani-American Democrats to host US VP Kamala Harris on June 26

Pakistani-American Democrats to host US VP Kamala Harris on June 26

World News

US Vice President Kamala Harris (L) and Pakistani-American Democrat Dr Asif Mahmood pose for a picture.— By reporter

Top Pakistani-American Democrats are hosting US Vice President Kamala Harris on June 26, viewing her as an instrumental figure in advancing progressive values and strengthening community ties due to her egalitarian, pro-immigrant stance.

Renowned Pakistani-American physician and philanthropist Dr Asif Mahmood will host the event at his residence in California, while it will be cohosted by Tanweer Ahmed, who is a business tycoon and entrepreneur in the US.

The reception for Harris, who is seeking reelection as incumbent vice president, is being held at a time when the US presidential election campaign is heating up. It’s no surprise that all eyes are focused on what Harris will say on local, regional, and international issues. 

After all, the event is arranged a day before the first presidential debate between incumbent Joe Biden and his fiery Republican rival Donald Trump.

Over the last four years, Harris has tactfully kept a low profile. This approach has helped her maintain her persona, as she once harshly criticised her Democrat rival Joe Biden during the 2020 primaries. Longtime Democrat Dr Mahmood, who was recently appointed US Commissioner on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF), has always preferred Harris over Biden.

Back in 2020, it was evident that Joe Biden would be nominated as the Democratic presidential candidate. Yet, Dr Mahmood chose to stay close to Harris and hosted her at his residence. 

During that event, Harris expressed her gratitude by saying: “He (Dr Mahmood) has been supporting me for so many years, and when I made the decision to run for president of the United States, he was one of the first calls that I made. “

“He was incredibly encouraging and supportive, and that has always been the case. He stepped up at the very beginning, and I cannot thank him enough.

“You are not only a very successful professional, you really are an extraordinary American leader,” Harris concluded while lauding his support.”

Dr Mahmood’s gesture was duly reciprocated by Harris. In 2022, when a Pakistani-American pulmonologist contested the election for Congress, she endorsed his campaign and attended a fundraiser. Both had also met in April last year to discuss matters of mutual interest.

Dr Mahmood is equally close to former first lady and secretary of state Hillary Clinton. During her primary, Dr Mahmood had supported her bid for president over Biden’s. On her part, Hillary endorsed Dr Mahmood for Congress. Hillary Clinton went the extra mile by arranging political events for Dr Mahmood.

 It was her first-of-its-kind campaign event for any Pakistani-American politician. In a special message recorded for this scribe after that event, the former first lady had said: “One of the greatest qualities of Dr Mahmood is that he has never sent anyone back home for not being able to pay fees.”

Born to a lower-middle-class family, Mahmood is a true example of a self-made person. He was born in a remote village of Kharian in the province of Punjab. To study medicine, he moved to Karachi and graduated from Sindh Medical College (SMC). Later, he migrated to the United States of America. 

According to a press note issued by the USCIRF, Mahmood is a practising physician, human rights activist, interracial and inter-faith community organizer, and philanthropist. He has also led the advocacy for many human rights campaigns focused on South Asia.

Mahmood was also a Delegate for the Democratic National Convention from 2008 to 2016 and held many roles in presidential campaigns. He is also the current Chair of the Organisation for Social Media Safety (OFSSMS) and a Board Member of Hope the Mission, one of the largest homeless shelters in California.

On the other hand, Tanweer Ahmad, the co-host of the event, is also very close to the Democratic hierarchy. He is among the few Pakistani-Americans who rub shoulders with former president Barack Obama and the Clinton family, to name a few. 

In Pakistan, Ahmad is better known as a philanthropist. He made headlines by donating $9 million to the National University of Science and Technology for developing the Information Technology tower. Chief of Army Staff General Syed Asim Munir once acknowledged his role by saying: “Pakistan is proud of heroes like him.”

Ahmad’s vision of promoting the use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Pakistan has drawn him closer to Sindh Governor Kamran Tessori as well. He has also generously donated to Governor Tessori’s free IT programme and his initiative for unemployed youth to start their own businesses. 

Like Dr Mahmood, Ahmad too comes from a humble background. He was born in Sialkot to a farmer. With a borrowed ticket and $23 in his pocket, he landed in New York City at age 18. Now, he owns multiple businesses and employs over 5,000 people across the US. 

Ahmad believes that the Democrats can offer more to the immigrant community than the Republicans. To him, supporting Harris is a fight for a brighter, better, and more equal future for all.

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