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Last Updated: Friday, 30 June 2006, 14:08 GMT 15:08 UK
Scotland set for first Asian MSP
Councillor Bashir Ahmad
Bashir Ahmad came to Scotland from Pakistan at the age of 21
The Scottish National Party says it is on course to have Scotland's first Asian MSP sitting at Holyrood.

Glasgow councillor Bashir Ahmad is among the candidates the party has listed as those it most wants elected to the Scottish Parliament next year.

The party's current Holyrood leader, Nicola Sturgeon, leads the rankings, while former education spokesman Mike Russell is also likely to return.

The list was announced by overall party leader Alex Salmond on Friday.

The lack of any Asian or ethnic minority voice in the Scottish Parliament has been felt deeply in my community
Bashir Ahmad

Former MSPs Gil Paterson and Kenny Gibson are also well placed to make comebacks in the west of Scotland.

Mr Salmond said: "The SNP have increasing momentum as we move into the decisive period 10 months out from polling day.

"With these excellent candidates we are ready for the fight and we aim to win."

Nicola Sturgeon added: "I'm over the moon that Bashir Ahmad is on course to be Scotland's first Asian MSP.

"Today's announcement is a further stepping stone on the road to victory for the SNP in 2007."

'Create a bond'

Mr Ahmad, who came to Scotland from Pakistan at the age of 21, has been president of the Pakistan Welfare Association five times.

In 1995 he founded Scots Asians for Independence, which has aimed to build support for the SNP among the Scottish Asian community.

He was elected to represent the Pollokshields East ward on Glasgow City Council in the 2003 elections and he has been a member of the SNP's national executive committee since 1998.

Mr Ahmad said party members had "righted the wrong" of Asians having no voice in the parliament.

He said: "The lack of any Asian or ethnic minority voice in the Scottish Parliament has been felt deeply in my community.

"But SNP members have righted that wrong.

"By doing so, they have proved that the SNP aspires to lead a Scottish Parliament that will represent all of Scotland - a truly national parliament.

"I firmly believe the SNP can now earn the trust of the Asian community throughout Scotland and that this will be a bond that endures for generations."

See who's up and who's down on the SNP candidate list

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