I’ve noticed a worrying trend regarding the way in which Pakistani men are portrayed by the British press. It seems to me that whenever the term ‘Pakistani man’ appears in a headline, you can guarantee that it will be followed by a mugshot and an article about criminal activity. As a Pakistani man myself, I take issue with this wholly negative reporting as this narrow portrayal fails to recognise the contributions made by the Pakistani community to our society. So I decided to do something about it, to take back control of the narrative surrounding which people get to be the face of my community.
I set out to create a portrait series to showcase the academic talent of Pakistani men here at the University of Cambridge with the broader aim of redefining what it means to be a Pakistani man. We’re talented academics, we’re capable of obtaining places at the world’s oldest and most prestigious institutions, and we have big dreams of leaving the world a better place than how we found it. I’m going to challenge the toxic connotations associated with my community that are constantly purported by the British press by empowering Pakistani voices and telling stories from my community. These are the Pakistani men of Cambridge.
Hasaan Agha is an Economics student at Clare College, Cambridge and also the incumbent president of the Cambridge University Pakistan Society. After graduation, he hopes to build on his experience in trading, but also to fulfil his ambitions of promoting efficient development in his home country, Pakistan.
Fahd Omar is a second year Economist at St John’s College, Cambridge and the current treasurer of the Cambridge University Pakistan Society. Upon graduating, he plans to gain experience in the consulting industry and develop the skills that will enable him to give back to his family and the wider Pakistani community, both in Britain and back in Pakistan.
Abdullah Shakeel is a first-year student of Medicine at Corpus Christi College, Cambridge. Beyond graduation, Abdullah seeks to address the problem of lack of access to maternal healthcare among women in rural areas of Pakistan by setting up a charity, delivering mobile health clinics to these remote parts of the country.
Jawad Aziz is in his second year of study at Gonville and Caius College, Cambridge, studying for a degree in Chemical Engineering and plans to pursue a career in consultancy upon graduating.
Sulaiman Iqbal studies History at Jesus College, Cambridge and serves as Events Officer in the Cambridge University Islamic Society. He was also elected to the post of Undergraduate Rep for the Cambridge School of Humanities & Social Sciences. Beyond graduation, he has aims of pursuing a career in law and politics to support social justice causes that lead to greater world peace.
Nasar Siddiqui is in his first year of study for a degree in Veterinary Medicine at Girton College, Cambridge. After graduating, he hopes to build on the skills and knowledge he obtains during his time at Cambridge by travelling the world and eventually hopes to open a clinic for mistreated animals and work to promote animal welfare in his home nation, Pakistan.
Abu-Bakr Samad is a first-year Law student at Queens’ College, Cambridge. After he graduates, he plans to pursue a legal career in the city before going on to join the diplomatic service. He also has ambitions of going into philanthropy and working towards more intergrated communities.
Arqum Anwar is a continuing postgraduate at Christ’s College, Cambridge. He is working on the DNA damage response and PROTAC therapeutics under the CRUK MRes+PhD in Cancer Biology programme. He has been selected as a ‘Leader of Tomorrow’ for GAPSUMMIT 2019 at Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard. After graduating, he wants to pursue a career in translational science while also exploring avenues for developing Pakistan’s bioeconomy.
Ibrahim Mohamed is in his final year of study at Wolfson College, Cambridge, studying for a degree in Physchological and Behavioural Science and is currently writing his dissertation on the impact of social media on applications to higher education. During his time at Cambridge he has built an online brand under the name ‘IbzMo’, amassing 8.5 million views and over 100,000 subscribers, and has used this platform to break down traditional barriers to Oxbridge. Beyond graduation, Ibrahim hopes to qualify as a commercial lawyer whilst also continuing his mission of increasing access to education through his charity – BTYS Ltd. He is also in the process of building a school in his mother’s village in Pakistan.
Zaki Arshad is a third-year Medicine student at Downing College, Cambridge. After graduation, he plans to pursue a career in the medical field and hopes to specialise as a surgeon before going on to fulfill his larger ambitions of building a hospital in Pakistan.
Omar Kidwai is a Natural Sciences student at Christ’s College, Cambridge and represented Pakistan at the International Mathematical Olympiad last year. From illiteracy to power shortages, Omar hopes to solve some of the many problems facing Pakistan, both through the private sector and eventually through the political system.
And finally, me. My name is Hassan Raja. I’m a first-year student of History at Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge and I have dreams of becoming an international photojournalist. I want to travel the world, tell stories from across the globe and empower the voices of oppressed peoples through the medium of photography.
Written, photographed and produced by Hassan Raja.