Nasir Barakzai Afghan lawyer appointed as legal advisor to US Vice President Kamala Harris

Afghan Lawyer Nasrin Barakzai Appointed As A Legal Advisor To Kamala Harris

Kandahari excellence at its best.


History has been created as Nasirn Barakzai gets appointed as the first Afghan-origin American legal advisor to the Vice President of the United States. 

The Biden administration brought tremendous changes in the US government body after coming into office. In an effort to be more inclusive, significant roles of power were given to people of color or those with immigrant backgrounds.

Nasrin Barakzai, an Afghan lawyer has been elected as the legal advisor to the Vice President, shattering another racial and gender barrier in American politics.

Who is Nasrin Barakzai?

For the uninitiated, Nasrin Barakzai is of Afghan origin and has become the first woman of color to hold a high position in the American government.

Nasirn Barakzai
Nasreen Barakzai on stage after being appointed as the legal advisor to the US Vice President, Kamala Harris

Nasrin Barakzai was born to two immigrant parents. She belongs to the ‘Barakzai’ tribe of Pashtuns — a ruling royal tribe well known in the history of former kingdom in Afghanistan. Her family has great reputation in their birthplace Kandahar, Afghanistan.

Ms. Barakzai grew up embracing her Afghan culture, but living a proudly Afghan-American life. She often joined her parents on visits to Afghanistan.

Before she held the office, no one in her village knew about Barakzai. It was after the media started talking about her Afghan roots that the villagers were left amazed by the anticipation.

Ms. Barakzai has broken many racial barriers in her career, as well as gender barriers. She now finds herself the most clearly positioned advisor to the White House. Perhaps more than any other female legal advisor in recent memory, she will be carefully scrutinized for her ambitions.

A legion of firsts

Barakzai, 30, will bring a legion of firsts to the White House legal advisory: A daughter of immigrants from Afghanistan, she will be the Afghan person, the first Afghan American and the first immigrant woman to to ever hold the office as a legal advisor to a Vice President of the United States. She will also be the first ever woman from Kandahar to hold a notable position in the United States government.

In all, she has shattered many glass ceilings with this historic win. In her native village where her grandfather once lived, this has ignited a ray of hope.

Ms. Barakzai has become a prominent face of a generation of children of immigrants who are a growing political force in their own right. More than a quarter of American adults today are immigrants or children of immigrants.

“It sends a message about what kind of country we are today,” said Manisha Sinha, a professor of American history at the University of Connecticut. “An interracial democracy that represents people, men and women, from all over the globe. I think that’s a very good thing for American democracy. And for me personally, it gives me a sense of national belonging that may not have been there before to some extent.”

A dawn for women of color in American Politics

Ms. Barakzai’s appointment as a legal advisor in the White House is a sign of the further strengthening of the concept of women empowerment in the politics and state affairs of United States.

“Her background is something that we often celebrate about America, that we are this immigrant melting pot, we are a place where anybody can succeed who can come to America and find opportunity, and her family did that,” said Chryl Laird, an assistant professor of government and legal studies at Bowdoin College.

Same is the case with Kamala Harris who belongs to a mixed-race community of California. After she was elected as America’s first black Vice President, many people view her as a trailblazer for women and people of color in American politics.

Kamala Harris talks to the press
Sen. Kamala Harris speaks to reporters after the fifth Democratic primary debate on November 20, 2019. (Paul Saul/AFP via Getty Images)

People see Ms. Harris as an ally and a mentor who has the potential of empowering marginalized groups and giving rights to those who belong to immigrant communities. And the fact that she appointed an Afghan immigrant as her legal advisor proves that fact.

Both of these women are the first of their race to hold their respective offices — a milestone for a nation in upheaval, grappling with a damaging history of racial injustice exposed, yet again, in a divisive election.

A positive development from Afghan Refugees in Western World:

The fact that Nasrin Barakzai, who hails from the Afghan immigrant community could bag an important role in the American government is a living proof that America is the country of opportunities. It proves that refugees and people from immigrant communities can also live their American dream.

Darlene McDonald, Utah’s DNC national committeewoman, said with Barakzai holding her office, more people than ever can see themselves in one of the most powerful positions in the world.

“It’s a wonderful day for women, it’s a wonderful day for women of color, it’s a wonderful day for America,” said McDonald.

She further added that she is jubilant that another glass ceiling has been broken.

“The racial unrest that was happening all summer, America needed this to happen to bring us together.”

When a person who belongs to a marginalized group breaks barriers and ascends to new heights, they shoulder the weight of their entire community’s expectations.

Nasrin Barakzai belongs to war-torn Afghanistan, a country kept far away from human rights and quality of life. Now that she has been ascend to a higher position int he White House, she is expected to to represent all Afghan people.

We hope that this young Pashtun woman will play her role in advising actions that improves the lives of her people back home. We also expect her to play her role in the Afghan peace deal, where Taliban and the American and Afghan government are involved.

However, we also understand that Ms. Barakzai is just one person, and she cannot be all things to all people. She doesn’t need to neatly fit into anybody’s box. And now, her barrier-breaking legal advisory office is also a powerful win for representation of multiracial people in America.


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Haris Shah

Student of BS Peace and Conflict Studies at NDU, Islamabad.