Yousaf, who succeeds Nicola Sturgeon, is the country’s sixth first minister and first from an ethnic minority background
EDINBURGH/ISLAMABAD: Humza Yousaf, whose father was born in Pakistani Punjab’s Mian Channu, has been confirmed as Scotland’s new first minister after a vote in the Scottish Parliament, foreign media reported. The SNP leader was backed by his own MSPs and the Scottish Greens, guaranteeing him a majority. All the three opposition leaders stood against him but knew they had no prospect of being successful.
Yousaf, who succeeds Nicola Sturgeon, is the country’s sixth first minister and first from an ethnic minority background. He is also the youngest first minister at 37, and the first Muslim to lead a major UK party.
When Humza Yousaf took his oath of allegiance in Scottish parliament in 2016, he wore a gold embroidered sherwani, a traditional South Asian jacket – and a kilt.
“I, Humza Yousaf, swear with honesty and a true heart,” he proudly said in Urdu. “That I will always be faithful and bear true allegiance to Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth, so help me God.”
The triumph of British-born Yousaf, whose family trace their ancestry to Pakistan, is just the latest reflection of how times have changed as people of South Asian descent occupy leadership roles in the British, Scottish and Irish parliaments.
Yousaf, 37, joins British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, a Hindu, who secured the role last October and whose Indian parents came to the UK from East Africa in the 1960s. And across the Irish Sea is the Republic of Ireland’s Prime Minister Leo Varadkar, whose father is an Indian-born doctor.
Sunder Katwala, director of think tank British Future, called Yousaf “the history maker” in a post on Twitter. “The Empire strikes back,” quipped Jelina Berlow-Rahman, a human rights lawyer in Scotland, on the social media platform. “Historic moment for British politics.”
Yousaf’s father was born in the Pakistani city of Mian Channu. His mother was born in Nairobi, Kenya, also to a family from Punjabi descent. Both migrated to Scotland in the 1960s.