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Pak-origin woman is Conservative Party chairperson

world Updated: May 13, 2010 15:48 IST

IANS
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Sayeeda Warsi, an unelected member of the House of Lords, said after being named a cabinet minister in Britain's new government that she was proud of being "from working class, of Muslim faith and of Pakistani background".

Warsi will have an office in 10 Downing Street as well as one in the Conservative Party headquarters in the capacity of the party's chairperson. She took charge of the party from chairman Erick Pickles, who was made communities and local government secretary Tuesday.

Prime Minister David Cameron, who heads a Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition government, has announced his cabinet. The Tories came to power following a deal with third-placed Liberal Democrats after voters threw up the first hung parliament in Britain since 1974.

Warsi said: "I am much pleased. It's a huge achievement for me as someone who is from a working class, of Muslim faith and of Pakistani background and for the Conservative Party."

She told The News International: "My appointment shows how progressive the Conservatives are under David Cameron and how much the party is serious in its efforts to create a united society, representing its various strands in a cohesive manner."

Warsi, who is interested in theatre and music, said that her appointment was a progressive and historic decision.

She has been a leading campaigner for awareness and stronger legislation on issues like forced marriages and female genital mutilation.

She was elected as the vice president of the Students Union at Dewsbury College and was a member of Cameron's shadow cabinet as well as former vice-chairperson of the Conservative Party, according to the party website.

Warsi accompanied Cameron during his last visit to Pakistan where they held talks with the government and opposition figures.

"Britain has enjoyed warm relations with Pakistan and our government will ensure that our relations are further strengthened and they are more geared towards solving the issues that affect the people of both the countries," Warsi was quoted as saying.