PakAlumni Worldwide: The Global Social Network

The Global Social Network

Silicon Valley Pakistani-Americans Celebrate Candidates' Election Wins

Last Saturday, Pakistani-American community joined Javed Ellahie and Sabina Zafar in celebrating their recent election victories in city council elections in San Francisco Bay Area which includes Silicon Valley. Ellahie has been elected to Monte Sereno City Council while Sabina Zafar won a seat on San Ramon City Council in November 2018 elections. The event was organized by American Pakistani Political Action Committee (APPAC) at Fremont Marriott. Dr. Naveed Sherwani who is a prominent Pakistani-American tech entrepreneur and NED University alumnus from Karachi, served as the master of ceremonies. Speeches by Ellahie, Zafar and several other local elected officials, including Fremont Mayor Lily Mei and Santa Clara County Supervisor Dave Cortese, were followed by dinner. After-dinner entertainment included stand-up comedy by Javed Ellahie's son Faraz Ozel, a popular comedian based in Southern California.

Javed Ellahie

Javed and Sabina narrated their experience of running campaigns for public office. Both faced and overcame challenges as outsiders because of their lack of experience and name recognition.

View of Dinner Attendees at APPAC Dinner

Javed Ellahie talked about how candidates' names affect their ability to win votes. In his case, people with familiar western names won votes in spite of lack of effort. One white candidate dropped out and still got many votes. Javed ran in a small city where he could knock on doors to do a lot of one-on-one campaigning to ask for votes personally. His efforts paid off. He thanked several Pakistani-American families living in Monte Sereno who contributed both time and money to his campaign.

Sabina Zafar

Sabina Zafar credited Emerge California with encouraging her to run and eventually win an election. Zafar, being a Muslim woman of color, was picked by Emerge California as part of their effort in 2018 to diversify their candidates pool.  Emerge California inspires and recruits women to run for public offices and trains them to acquire skills to win. San Francisco Mayor London Breed and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf are both Emerge California graduates.

L to R: Javed Ellahie, Yasmeen Haq, Riaz Haq, Sabina Zafar

The event drew hundreds of Pakistani-American residents of the San Francisco Bay Area. In addition, I saw several Pakistani attendees who had traveled from various cities in Pakistan to attend 7th Annual StartUp Grind Global Conference being held in Silicon Valley. Among the Pakistani delegates to the conference is Rehan Allahwala from Karachi. He showed me a plan for building a cyber city for which he has acquired several hundred acres of land near Karachi.  I also met Naeem Asghar, a journalist working for Express News and covering Pakistani participation in StartUp Grind.  Earlier in the week, I met Shahjhan Chaudhry, Director of National Incubation Center located on NED University Campus grounds in Karachi, who is also attending StartUp Grind Conference.

L to R: Riaz Haq, Faraz Darvesh, Javed Ellahie, Sabahat Ashraf

They told me there are about 40 delegates from Pakistan attending the StartUp Grind global technology conference as part of Pak-US Technology Exchange Program. The delegates will get an opportunity to have first hand visits of tech giants like Google, Facebook, Apple and Uber; technology incubators/accelerators like Y-Combinator, TechStars, StartX and Founder Institute; prestigious organizations like Stanford University, Draper University and more. They will participate in exclusive events organized by partner organizations inducing meetups, workshops and office hours with Pakistani diaspora in Silicon Valley.

Javed Ellahie and Sabina Zafar

Javed Ellahie and Sabina Zafar are among 5 American Muslims elected to local office in the San Francisco Bay Area in this year's elections. It's a sign American voters are ready for diverse leadership despite troubling increases in hate crimes nationwide, according to the Council on American Islamic Relations. Across America, there are 55 American Muslim candidates who won election to public offices, 11 of them in California, according to CAIR. Two Muslim American women, Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, were elected to the United States Congress this year.

Pakistani-Americans are the largest foreign-born Muslim group in San Francisco Bay Area that includes Silicon Valley, according to a 2013 study. The study was commissioned by the One Nation Bay Area Project, a civic engagement program supported by Silicon Valley Community Foundation, The San Francisco Foundation, Marin Community Foundation and Asian Americans/Pacific Islanders in Philanthropy.

Javed Ellahie and Sabina Zafar with Stand-up Comedian Faraz Ozel 

Overall, US-born Muslims make up the largest percentage at 34% of all Muslims in the Bay Area, followed by 14% born in Pakistan, 11% in Afghanistan, 10% in India, 3% in Egypt and 2% each in Iran, Jordan, Palestine and Yemen.

There are 35,000 Pakistani-born Muslims in San Francisco Bay Area,  or 14% of the 250,000 Muslims who call the Bay Area home, according to the 2013 study. Bay Area Muslim community constitutes 3.5 percent of the area’s total population and is one of the highest concentrations of Muslims in the country.

As of 2013, South Asian Muslims, including Pakistanis, have the highest income levels, with nearly half (49%) of them having a household income above $100,000. In comparison, those groups with the lowest proportion of household incomes above $100,000 were Hispanic Muslims (15%), Afghans (10%), and African American Muslims (10%).

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

South Asia Investor Review

Muslim-Americans in San Francisco Bay Area

The Trump Phenomenon

Islamophobia in America

Silicon Valley Pakistani-Americans

Pakistani-American Leads Silicon Valley's Top Incubator

Silicon Valley Pakistanis Enabling 2nd Machine Revolution

Karachi-born Triple Oscar Winning Graphics Artist

Pakistani-American Ashar Aziz's Fire-eye Goes Public

Two Pakistani-American Silicon Valley Techs Among Top 5 VC Deals

Pakistani-American's Game-Changing Vision 

Minorities Are Majority in Silicon Valley 

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