As we reflect on the challenges faced by our community today, we are reminded that Pakistanis have been a key part of the fabric of Britain for over a century. We have seen generations before us committing to the growth of the country and community. However, today we still see British Pakistanis face regular obstacles to do with discrimination and prejudice. We at the British Pakistan Foundation believe that we need to amplify the challenges and victories that our community faces by ensuring they have a safe platform that encourages, inspires and supports their work.
Post WW2, Pakistanis migrated to the UK where they relied on their values and work ethic to solve major labour shortages in British industries and strengthen the nation. Since then, numerous successful British Pakistanis have established themselves in politics, media, sports and business. The growing diaspora promoted Britain’s appeal as a global multi-cultural, multi-racial society that strives to become tolerant and understanding.
Given the contribution of the Pakistani Community in Britain, one might question why Britons have not been able to accept us as members of society. It would be wrong to assume all Britons are racists, but the country must admit there is a problem for there to be a solution to it. Racism is present, and it needs to be addressed on all the relevant platforms.
With the advent of social media, the whispers of racist and oppressive narratives have been amplified, normalising prejudices and misinforming the public. At the same time, voices from across the nation and globally are speaking up against the injustices faced by ethnic minority communities. Movements like Black Lives Matter has given people the courage to speak out and hope for the future where their voices can make a difference towards change.
If we plan to advance the conversation on inclusivity, we need not look further than Azeem Rafique’s testimony. Despite accounting for over 14% of the total population of the UK, there was no ethnic minority representation on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee. Azeem’s courage was inspiring and we hope his example will make for better representation in the years to come.