WASHINGTON: US President Joe Biden has inducted yet another Pakistani American — Lina Khan — into his team as a top federal regulator.

Earlier this week, the US Senate confirmed Zahid Qureshi as a judge for the District of New Jersey by a vote of 81-16. Mr Qureshi is the first Muslim federal judge in US history, NPR, the largest American radio network, reported.

Lina Khan is the fifth Pakistani-American to join the Biden team since he entered the White House as the 46th US president on Jan 20.

The other three are Salman Ahmed, Ali Zaidi and Dilawar Syed.

Mr Ahmed is the director of policy planning in the new administration. Mr Zaidi joined the White House as the first deputy National Climate Adviser. And Mr Syed is the deputy administrator for the Small Business Administration.

Lina Khan, a known critic of big tech monopolies, will head the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Her appointment, announced on Tuesday evening was interpreted by the US media as a “signal to tech giants like Facebook, Google, Amazon and Apple”. Ms Khan was sworn in as FTC chair just hours after the Senate confirmed her as one of five members of the commission on a 69-28 vote.

According to The New York Times, Ms Khan was born in London to Pakistani parents who emigrated to the United States when she was 11.

Ms Khan has been a professor at Columbia University Law School and is credited with a major scholarly work on “Amazon’s antitrust Paradox” in 2017 as a Yale law student.

As counsel to a House Judiciary antitrust panel in 2019 and 2020, she played a key role in a sweeping bipartisan investigation of the market power of the tech giants.

At 32, she is the youngest chair in the history of the FTC, which oversees competition and consumer protection in industry and ensures digital privacy.

Ms Khan also was a legal adviser to Rohit Chopra, an FTC commissioner, and was previously legal director of the Open Markets Institute, an organisation that advocates against corporate concentration.

“It is a tremendous honour to have been selected by President Biden to lead the Federal Trade Commission,” Ms Khan said in a statement. “I look forward to working with my colleagues to protect the public from corporate abuse.”

Commenting on Mr Qureshi’s confirmation, Carl Tobias, a professor of law at the University of Richmond, told NPR that this was a “historic appointment” and that Mr Qureshi deserved the honour of being “the first Muslim Article 3 judge in history” as he “has a long, very enviable record of public service”.

Published in Dawn, June 17th, 2021

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