BIRMINGHAM: A British Pakistani councilor has made history by taking oath as the youngest mayor of the historic English city of Worcester.
Councillor Jabbar Riaz, 40, who was also the deputy mayor of the city in 2017/18 was elected for the third consecutive term successfully after defending his seat representing Labour party from Cathedral ward in the recent local elections.
Cllr Riaz, whose family is originally from Dadyal, Azad Kashmir, is also the second British Pakistani to be elected as the mayor of Worcester. Cllr Allah Ditta of Conservative party was the first British Pakistani mayor of this city back in 2004.
Cllr Riaz also started his political career with the Conservative party and was elected as a councilor from Cathedral ward for the first time in 2010.
But in 2013 he left Tories for the Labour party due to the policies of the central government of then PM David Cameron. After a tough battle in 2014 local elections, he succeeded again but this time as a Labour councilor with a slim majority of just 198 votes.
In 2017, Cllr Riaz resigned from the cabinet where he was in charge of leisure services due to family commitments. In these elections, Cllr Riaz won again from Cathedral ward by beating fellow Pakistani Nida Hassan, who was representing Conservative party but with a much clearer majority of 292 votes.
Nida Salman is the niece of Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, senior PML-N politician and speaker of Pakistan’s national assembly.
Cllr Riaz in his maiden speech as the new mayor of Worcester said that he feels proud and humbled. He thanked the residents of his ward, friends, family and especially his parents and wife who not only voted for him but also supported him through the election period.
As the mayor, he represents the whole city and he is grateful to Almighty Allah for honoring him with this position.
“My Mayoral theme this year will be ‘Love not Hate’ and it is especially fitting this year as we mark the 100th anniversary of Armistice day where people from across the commonwealth fought and died,” said Cllr Riaz told Geo News.
He further added that his aim is to unite and bring communities together under the banner of peace. The Brexit vote has seen hate crime rise and attacks increase and my aim is to educate and spread the message of kindness, dispel myths and break down barriers.
The Mayoral oath-taking ceremony took place in city’s historic Guildhall during a full council meeting, which was attended by the fellow councilors, family, and friends along with other members of the public.
Cllr Jabbar Riaz’s father Mr. Mohammed Riaz, who was also in politics and was elected as councilor from the same Cathedral ward from 2004-10 representing Conservative party, said that it is an absolutely a proud moment for not only him or the family but for the whole community.
“More Pakistani youngsters should be encouraged to take part in local politics as their future lies in this country. Young generation should join the British political parties so they can serve this country and their community,” added Mohammed Riaz.
Cllr Riaz, Sajeeda Begum, who is also the Mayoress now said that her husband has worked extremely hard not only in the recent local election but throughout his career as councilor and this is the next step ahead for him.
“It’s absolutely wonderful that as the representative of Muslim community he is now the second Muslim mayor of this city,” she said.
Cllr Jabbar’s niece Romana Ali who has also been named the “Mayor’s Consort” said that her role is filling for the role of Mayoress when she is not available. One massage that is most important and which my uncle said in his speech is “Love not Hate” and it’s not for my generation but for all generations. The family has worked hard, everyone values his work for the community and today we all feel proud of him, added Romana.