President Joe Biden continues to bring more Pakistani Americans to his administration in senior positions. On July 30, 2021, Biden announced his intent to nominate two South Asians, including one Pakistani-American, to serve in key roles at the State Department and the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF).
Khizr Khan, who lost his son, U.S. Army Capt. Humayun Khan, 27, during the Iraq War, has been appointed as a Commissioner of the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) while Rashad Hussain, a first-generation Indian-American, is the nominee for Ambassador-at-Large for International Religious Freedom. His nomination will have to be cleared by the U.S. Senate.
“Today’s announcement underscores the President’s commitment to build an Administration that looks like America and reflects people of all faiths,” the White House said in the press release.
The announcement is one of four such appointments and nominations, with the White House website saying that it “underscores the President’s commitment to build an Administration that looks like America and reflects people of all faiths”.
Apart from Khan, Sharon Kleinbaum was appointed the commissioner of the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom, whereas Deborah Lipstadt was nominated for the post of special envoy to monitor and combat antisemitism and Rashad Hussain as ambassador-at-large for international religious freedom.
Khizr Khan will be one of the six Commissioners on the 8-member USCIRF. Khan is the founder of the Constitution Literacy and National Unity Project and an advocate for religious freedom as a core element of human dignity. After immigrating to the United States in 1980, he attended Harvard Law School and obtained his LL.M degree. He is licensed to practice law before the Supreme Court of the United States, various Federal District Courts, and Washington, DC and New York State courts. In his law practice, he devotes a substantial amount of his time to providing legal services to veterans, men and women serving in uniform, and their families.
Khan shot to national prominence when he gave an impassioned speech during the 2016 Democratic National Convention, holding up the U.S. Constitution and asking if Presidential Candidate Donald Trump had read the document.
Khan and his wife Ghazala, both immigrants of Pakistani origin, are Gold Star parents of Capt. Humayun Khan, a University of Virginia graduate who was killed as he stopped an attack on his camp and saved the lives of scores of U.S. soldiers and Iraqi civilians. Capt. Humayun Khan was posthumously awarded the Purple Heart and Bronze Star with Valor. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery Section 60 with full military honors.
Khizr Khan lives in Charlottesville, Virginia. He is author of three books, including An American Family-A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice, Founding Documents of the United States of America, and This is Our Constitution.
Biden has nominated at least five Pakistani Americans to senior positions, including Khizer Khan, judge Zahid Quraishi, who was just confirmed by the US Senate. Quraishi has become the first federal judge of Pakistan and Muslim heritage.