The 34-year-old Hina Bhatti is the new council president. - Photo credit Benny Proot via Het Laatste Nieuws

Islamabad: A Pakistan-origin woman has been appointed president of the municipal council of Ostend, in Belgium’s West Flanders province.

Hina Bhatti, a 34-year-old liberal politician who was born in Belgium is proud of her Pakistani roots.

“I have found it always very positive that I can combine the better aspects of two cultures. I don’t mind when people talk about my roots. I have many contacts within the different communities. We have [always] had an open house where everybody is welcome,” Bhatti said in an interview with Het Laatste Nieuws, a Dutch newspaper.

Bhatti said her parents arrived in Belgium 40 years ago from Pakistan.

“I was born and raised in Ostend and wouldn’t want to live anywhere else,” she adds.

Her family speaks both Urdu and Dutch at home and finds it very encouraging to live the best of both cultures — Pakistani and Belgian.

She studied economy-modern languages in the Onze-Lieve-Vrouwe College in Antwerp, Belgium.

Later, Bhati worked for a year in the cabinet of Bart Tommelein when he was secretary of state.

With her new position, Bhatti said she aims to work for the progress of all Belgian citizens.

“I am into mainstream politics with a vision to work for all Belgians. I mobilised my support mainly among local Belgian masses and have support of all immigrants as well as the Pakistani community based in West Flanders province,” she said peaking to Pakistan’s Geo News.

Bhatti sees her new position within the council as an important symbol.

“Young people attach little importance to politics and therefore it is good that young women are offered opportunities. I want to work for all equally as President of the Council and with my work, I hope to attain a place in the council in next elections too,” shew was quoted as saying by daily Het Laatste Nieuws.

There are many important regional and national politicians in the municipal council of Ostend including John Crombez, head of the Flemish socialists, Johan Vande Lanotte, minister of state and mayor; Wouter De Vriend, important MP of the green party and Björn Anseeuw regional MP for the Flemish nationalists.