When I look to excellence in terms of working with immigration & immigrants do I look to the Unity Centre (aka Akhtar Towers) or Rotherham’s Diversity Forum, or indeed the political leadership of the Asian-Pakistani community in Rotherham?
No more than I look to Roger Stone, who having shown no history of interest in immigration or expertise in the subject (look to his Council web page to get my point) suddenly he ends of as “Rapporteur” for the Committee of the Regions group studying Roma Integration Strategies.
Yet these form our welcoming party to the incoming Roma. They all seem to be gaining significant benefits from the Roma immigration, benefits in the in the form of grants or in the Dodgers case his beloved travel perks.
Then of course there is the increased demand for property rentals that will please our landlord class.
When I look to Rotherham I do not see a town that has in the past cracked the issues of integration of immigrant communities. Indeed I don’t see a town leadership, white or Pakistani that has even decided whether integration is the objective and if so what it looks like.
In the annual reports of RDF & the Unity Centre you will not see clear objectives, or measures of evaluating their success. There are no fine statements of intention and vision for a better world. RDF simply refers to “keeping their sponsors happy” as its measure of success, whatever that means.
They are organisations that seem to exist for the sake of existing or as some allege to provide jobs for family and friends of leading local politicians..
They have not delivered excellence in integration of the Pakistani community, what we have seen instead is parallel development. That is a separatism that leaves too many in the white and Pakistani communities deeply suspicious of each other. Many young people of Pakistani roots alienated and confused by both their role in British society and their elders efforts to keep them culturally back in Mirpur.
In fairness much of this separatism results from the racism and bigotry of hostile elements in the white community dating back to the arrival of the Mirpuri Pakistani community 50 years age.
But the leadership of the Pakistani Community has not helped. Many have gained by using the biraderi system to bring in the votes and give them power, by encouraging distrust of the white kafir to keep the biraderi together and the community silent & fearful. Real integration, for example a broad education of Pakistan children and encouragement to vote as they think, not as instructed, is a big threat to the traditional leadership.
I have to ask are the Unity Centre and the Rotherham Diversity Forum really the welcoming party that we want meet the newly arrived Roma community? Have these groups, their Board members and the traditional Pakistani community leadership contributed to creating a diverse but integrated Rotherham society where we share common values and aspirations while respecting each others differences?
While I can appreciate that this as a tough job the reality is that white and Muslim Councillors have failed to show vision & leadership on the issue of integration, and both Unity Centre & RDF are very much the symbols of that failed leadership.
As we know funding them reflects the lazy and ignorant approach. It is simply a buy off, a bit of Danegeld. Pay Shaukat & Akhtars family a few quid and they’ll give you an easier life & maybe bring in a few votes ..in politics it is referred to as ”being realistic”.
All in one place: The Jahangir Akhtar Files