New York: The antagonizing remarks of Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump has incited the Pakistani community in the U.S. to get involved in politics and actively campaign for his rival, Hillary Clinton.
In fact, for the past 15 months Clinton has enjoyed the support of affluent Pakistani Americans who have helped her raise several million dollars for her campaign.
“The stakes are high. It’s a question of our children’s future,” said Tahir Javed, a Pakistani businessman from Texas who has helped raised several million dollars for the Clinton campaign since last year. Javed is also a “Hillblazer” – a member of the campaign’s National Finance Committee.
“During the past 15 months I have headed or co-headed at least 60 fundraising events in Oklahoma, New Mexico, Colorado, Texas and Arkansas,” he said, as he got off the plane in Houston after a meeting with Clinton.
Javed also hosted the largest primary fundraiser at his house in Beaumont, Houston, that netted about half a million dollars.
According to a 2015 report of Migration Policy Institute, there are some 453,000 Pakistani immigrants and their children in the U.S., including first and second generations. The children of Pakistani immigrants constitute about 0.8 percent of the total U.S. population.
The son of a sub-inspector from Mandi Bahauddin, Amjad (a pseudonym) came to the U.S. a couple of years after 9/11. Since then, he has made his way up to become the first Pakistani police captain in the U.S..
“This is a country where people come and take ownership, of him or herself and also of the country. America is a country of immigrants,” he said. “But like it or not, my identity is of a Pakistani Muslim living in America.”
A recent poll by Council of American-Islamic Relations showed that 86 percent of American Muslims intended to vote in the upcoming election. Around 72 percent said they will vote for Hillary while only 4 percent said they will vote for Donald Trump.
Even in a glance at the list of donors to the Clinton campaign on hillaryclinton.com, more than a dozen South Asian Muslim names jump out, from states including California, Texas and New York which are significant Pakistani immigrant hubs.
According to Javed, Pakistani Muslims have contributed more than one percent of the total funds to the Clinton campaign, an amount of up to a billion dollars.
Opposition to Donald Trump has also spiked voter registration by members of the Pakistani diaspora. Javed, a resident of Houston, a city with a significant population of Pakistani immigrants, said he had never before seen voter registration camps in mosques and people waiting to get signed up.
“In Houston only, more than a 100 mosques held events for voter registration. I have been living here for more than two decades and I have never seen this level of involvement for an election,” he said.
The owner and publisher of the oldest Urdu weekly in the U.S., Khalilur Rehman, said that Trump had spurred mass support from the Pakistani community towards Hillary Clinton.
There may be a handful who will remain loyal to the Republican Party but they will be people whose business interests directly align with that of its disowned candidate, he said.
“The definition of hate and bigotry were different in America and Trump changed that. But the damage has been done and perhaps a section of his supporters will never be the same,” said Rehman.