India

Joe Biden’s U.S. National Economic Council pick sparks celebrations in Srinagar


Sameera Fazili has been appointed deputy director of the U.S. National Economic Council

The appointment on Thursday of Kashmir-origin Sameera Fazili as deputy director of the U.S. National Economic Council (NEC) by President-elect Joe Biden sparked off celebrations amongst her extended family in Srinagar.

Ms. Fazili’s aunt Mehmooda Fazili, in her 70s, is busy flipping through international news channels, at her home in Srinagar’s Hawal area.

“Since the news broke, I am continuously watching CNN television channel to get her glimpse. I did talk to her mother yesterday. They are elated. But Sami is very busy. This is a great moment for the family. She has been extraordinary. She quit medical school to pursue her passion,” Ms. Mehmooda told The Hindu.

Daughter of a Kashmir-born doctor couple, Muhammad Yusuf Fazili and Rafiqa Fazili, from the old city’s Gojwara, Ms. Fazili started her career as a clinical lecturer at Yale Law School’s community and economic development clinic.

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“She did join (former President) Barack Obama’s regime and she was very popular. On demitting his office, Mr. Obama organised a separate farewell party for Ms. Fazili and her family,” her cousin Shuja Durrani, a businessman, said. He described her appointment as “Kashmir’s proud moment”.

According to the family, Ms. Fazili served as a senior adviser at the NEC and at the Treasury Department of the White House during the Obama administration. She later worked as Federal Reserve Bank of Atlanta’s director of engagement for the community and economic development.

Ms. Fazili last visited Kashmir in 2006-07. “She just immersed herself in the Kashmir University’s Iqbal Library and the Sher-i-Kashmir Institute of Medical Sciences for a research paper and kept meeting all relatives to connect with her roots. She loves Kashmir and Kashmiris,” recalled Rabiya Durrani, who also remembers teaching her traditional Kashmiri recipes.

Ms. Durrani said Ms Fazili stands out for her “simplicity and connecting with the downtrodden”.

“One can gauge her strong connection with Kashmir from the fact that Ms. Fazili named her daughter Zoon,” she added.

Zoon, is a popular name of the tragic queen of Kashmir, Habba Khatoon, consort of the last Kashmiri king Yousuf Shah Chak who was deposed by the Mughals in a military coup.

Once Mr. Biden formally takes over as on January 20, Ms. Fazili will be part of the top team shaping up the post-COVID economic policies of the U.S. Her focus, according to the U.S. media reports, will be manufacturing, innovation and domestic competition.

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