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India, Pakistan share pride as Sunak becomes first British PM of Asian heritage

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Islamabad, Oct 25 (PTI) With Rishi Sunak’s elevation as Britain’s first Prime Minister of Asian heritage, arch-rivals India and Pakistan became part of the historical event, though none of them played a role in it.

The 42-year-old investment banker-turned politician on Tuesday took charge as Britain’s first Indian-origin Prime Minister, a day after he was elected the leader of the Conservative Party in a historic leadership run. Sunak, a devout Hindu, is the youngest British prime minister in 210 years.

Sunak’s grandparents originated from British India but their birthplace Gujranwala lies in modern day Pakistan’s Punjab province. Thus, in an odd way, the new British leader is both an Indian and a Pakistani.

Prime Ministers of both countries congratulated Sunak and said they looked forward to working closely with him.

“Warmest congratulations @RishiSunak! As you become UK PM, I look forward to working closely together on global issues, and implementing Roadmap 2030. Special Diwali wishes to the ‘living bridge’ of UK Indians, as we transform our historic ties into a modern partnership,” Prime Minister Narendra Modi tweeted.

Soon after, his Pakistani counterpart Shehbaz Sharif took to Twitter to congratulate Sunak.

“Congratulations to @RishiSunak on his nomination as leader of the Conservative Party and next Prime Minister of the UK. I look forward to working with him to advance shared interests and further deepen the abiding Pakistan-UK partnership,” Sharif tweeted.

So far, the scanty details about his ancestry are available only on social media and that is where both Indian and Pakistanis are expressing their views about his rise to power amidst bitter political wrangling in the UK.

“The Sunaks are a Punjabi Khatri family from Gujranwala, now in Pakistan,” tweeted one Queen Lioness 86, adding: “Ramdas Sunak, Rishi’s paternal grandfather, left Gujranwala to work as a clerk in Nairobi in 1935.” Ramdas’ wife, Suhag Rani Sunak, moved to Delhi first from Gujranwala, along with her mother-in-law, before travelling to Kenya in 1937, according to Queen Lioness 86, who has provided all details about the family, including the migration of UL and the birth of Rishi in 1980 in Southampton.

Though officially nothing has been said in Pakistan about Sunak, some on social media have suggested the government to lay its claim on him.

“I think Pakistan should also lay claim on Rishi Sunak because his paternal grandparents were from Gujranwala who from there migrated to Kenya and then to Britain,” one Shafat Shah tweeted.

Someone with a Twitter handle as Grand Finale wrote: “Wow! What a tremendous achievement. A Pakistani has now ascended to the highest office in England. Anything is possible if you believe.” But others suggested that both Pakistan and India should be proud of the new British leader.

“Going to bed in the US with hopes that a #Punjabi from #Gujranwala will be the #PrimeMinister of the #UK in the morning! Both #Pakistan and #India should be jointly proud of this moment!” tweeted Yaqoob Bangash.

There are also fears that the two countries may live up to their reputation of animosity and even try to cross lines while laying claim that Sunak is the son of their respective lands, said 35-year-old Zulfiqar Jatt.

“Since Gujranwala is in Pakistan, anyone who belonged to this city even a 100 years ago is a Pakistani today,” Jatt told PTI.

Others like Akhtar Saleem are more down to earth and want Sunak to address the longstanding issue of the Kohinoor diamond.

“Since he is becoming prime minister, I think Pakistan should ask him to return the Kohinoor diamond which was stolen from Lahore,” Saleem said. PTI SH ZH AKJ ZH ZH

This report is auto-generated from PTI news service. ThePrint holds no responsibility for its content.

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