Indo-American candidate wins Texas council seat

Houston: An Indian-American has edged past a candidate of Pakistani origin to win a city council seat in Sugar Land, Texas.

In unofficial results, Harish Jajoo edged Pakistani-American attorney and investment manager Farha Ahmed on June 11 in the runoff election for the city council seat in District 4 in Sugar Land.

Jajoo secured 1,473 or 52.38 per cent of the total votes, while 1,340 or 47.62 per cent polled for Ahmed. Jajoo had a 915-724 advantage in pre-election day balloting, while Ahmed polled better on voting day, getting 616 votes to 559 for her opponent.

The tight contest was marred by a flier, circulated before the election and quoting a Pakistani newspaper, erroneously insinuated that Ahmed would represent Afia Sidique, a woman dubbed as "Lady al-Qaida," in a criminal case.

Siddiqui is a US-educated Pakistani neuroscientist who was sentenced to 86 years in prison in a New York District Court in 2010 for trying to shoot US soldiers at a police station in Afghanistan in 2008. She was shown on the flier in two grainy mug shots along with Ahmed`s photo.

Ahmed issued a statement saying she is a civil litigation attorney and could not represent Siddiqui in a criminal case.

Ahmed did say, however, that she was approached a few years ago "by attorneys and human rights groups to help gather information to find two missing American children who were believed to have been kidnapped overseas."

"It is inappropriate for me to discuss the details of the case any further other than to state that the children were found. I would also like to humbly request that the identities of the children be safeguarded for their protection," she said.

Ahmed did not issue any further clarification to indicate if this work involved Siddiqui or her children.

Jajoo, through a statement said that, "I want to assure you that my campaign had nothing to do with this mailer, and I do not condone this type of tactic. I also believe that the voters deserve to hear from my opponent on this issue as well."

On results, Jajoo said, "This culminates a tough race and validates that my campaign was based on right message, right priorities and right approach. I am humbled by the support and enthusiasm of my district voters."

Jajoo also said he received a call from Ahmed the night of June 11 after the results were declared "to congratulate me and I invited her to work with me on the issues important to her."

He said in a press statement that his priorities as a member of the council would be "public safety, infrastructure and quality of life" in Sugar Land.

The swearing-in ceremony is scheduled for June 21. Jajoo and his wife, Shashi, have two children.