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WASHINGTON: Senator Bernie Sanders has hired an American of Pakistani origin, Faiz Shakir, to run his 2020 presidential campaign.

Shakir, 39, born to Pakistani immigrants in the United States, is the first Muslim to ever manage a US presidential campaign. Asked on Twitter to confirm his selection, Shakir responded, “We’re playing to win”.

Senator Sanders, who bowed out of the 2016 presidential race after losing the primary to Hillary Clinton, announced last week that he was running again in 2020.

“I’m running for president because a great nation is judged not by how many billionaires and nuclear weapons it has, but by how it treats the most vulnerable — the elderly, the children, our veterans, the sick and the poor,” he said.

While appreciating the senator’s decision to select Shakir, the US media noted that he had “picked up an all-star progressive operative to head his campaign.”

His official biography at the American Civil Liberties Union’s Website says that Shakil joined ACLU in January 2017.

As ACLU’s National Political Director, Shakir develops and implements strategies to advance the organisation’s priorities at the federal and state levels.

In 2017, Shakir played a major role in blocking President Trump’s executive order for barring people from Sudan, Syria, Yemen, Iran, Iraq, Libya and Somalia from entering the United States and indefinitely suspending the entry of refugees from Syria.

Prior to joining the ACLU, Shakir worked as a senior advisers to former Senate Democratic Leader Harry Reid. He directed policy and communications work for Senator Reid while also coordinating with Democratic members and staffs, key interest groups, and press to organise issue campaigns. Prior to that, Shakir served as Senior Adviser and Director of Digital Media for House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi, helping wage key fights on behalf of the LGBT and Muslim American communities.

Published in Dawn, February 22nd, 2019