Charm of one's identity adds to ethnic diversity of Canada: MP
Charm of keeping one's identity adds to ethnic diversity of Canada, says senator of Pakistani origin
A Canadian senator of Pakistani origin, who is officially visiting Pakistan to carry out a study for the Senate on the recent devastating floods, has said that unlike the rest of the advanced countries where people of various identities were exposed to a "melting pot", the charm of keeping one's own identity added to the ethnic diversity of Canada.
PESHAWAR: The Canadian government of the Conservative Party led by Prime Minister Stephen Joseph Harper was a strong supporter of Pakistan and its people as Canada was cooperating and practically helping the flood affected Pakistanis, said Pakistani-Canadian Senator Salma Attaullah Jan.Talking to www.maverickpakistanis.com, she said Canada had strong bilateral relations with Pakistan since long and 0.3 million Pakistanis were living in Canada where they were encouraged to grow in their professional pursuits.
The lawmaker said she was officially visiting Pakistan to carry out a study for the Senate on the recent devastating floods as the Canadian government had increased aid for the flood victims to $98.8 million. She said unlike the rest of the advanced countries where people of various identities were exposed to a “melting pot”, the charm of keeping one’s own identity added to the ethnic diversity of Canada.
Lauding Primer Minister Harper’s vision for Canada and rest of the democratic world, the Pakistani-Canadian senator said: “Look I am woman, a minority and from an immigrant background yet in that diverse society I have had the opportunity to grow and get selected as senator from the province of Ontario.”
The Canadian legislator said that once someone at a party asked her as to how much she had paid to become a senator. “My reply was that I was rewarded for 25 years of my community service in Toronto,” she recalled.
Salma Attaullah Jan has the honour of being the first Pakistani-origin member in the 105-member Senate of Canada.
When asked about her background, she said that she shifted and settled in Canada in the 1980s as a housewife because her husband was staying in Toronto. She said her career in social service and volunteerism started the day she was encouraged to lead the Parents Advisory Council in David Lewis Public School in east Toronto where her two daughters were enrolled.
Senator Salma said she remained associated with the school’s Advisory Council for 16 years and the monthly meetings, fundraising campaigns and volunteer service provided her a lifelong experience to help and serve others. She said the volunteer work is an essential part of life and education not only in Canada but also in the whole North American region.
About the concept of merit and justice, she said she was on visit to Pakistan when she learnt her name was under consideration for the office of a senator. She contested election on her party ticket and lost with close margin to a very strong candidate in Toronto. She said she was a “target-rider” during the election campaign and her party was happy with her performance and the way she bagged votes against her counterpart.
When asked about the difference between politics in Pakistan and in Canada, she said in Canada politicians are very responsible and accountable to the nation and every word is uttered with caution and honesty because a minor mistake could jeopardise decades-long political careers. She said that democracies in developed societies operated in an atmosphere of honesty, truthfulness and sense of responsibility.
Salma Attullah Jan said Canadians were famous for their kindness and compassion and their government truly reflects such traits. She was part of the four-member Senate committee on human rights and it was an honour that the study she proposed on the Status of the Afghan Women was recently accepted with 11 votes in favour and three in opposition.
She said they were equally working for the better image of Pakistan in Canada as her roots were here. She said she held fruitful meetings with Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani, Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and Senate Chairman Farooq H Naek. She said she received positive response from the Pakistani leaders to further augment bilateral relations between Canada and Pakistan.
Salma Attaullah Jan belongs to the noted political families of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, as she is the daughter of Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz leader Saranjam Khan and granddaughter of Khan Abdul Wali Khan, late founder of Awami National Party. She has two daughters, Anushka doing her PhD in Canada and Shaanzeh, who is hoping to become a lawyer.
Besides being a politician, Salma Attaullah is also an artist and her paintings are regularly exhibited.