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U.K. Prime Minister Rishi Sunak has African and Pakistani origins, not Indian.

Rishi Sunak was born in the U.K., and his paternal grandparents were from Gujranwala, which was part of India before the partition.


On October 25, 2022, Rishi Sunak was appointed Prime Minister of the U.K. Sunak, the former Chancellor under Boris Johnson, lost to Liz Truss in September but she resigned six weeks later on October 20, 2022. Sunak is the first Asian descent PM in the U.K. Since he was appointed, social media users have discussed his heritage. Some posts state that he has African and Pakistani origins rather than Indian. However, this claim lacks context.

In fact

According to BBC News, Sunak was born in Southampton, U.K., in 1980, where his father was a doctor and his mother ran a pharmacy. According to The Conversation, his parents Yashvir and Usha Sunak were born and raised in present-day Kenya and Tanzania, respectively. Sunak's grandparents on both sides were from India and had migrated to East Africa.

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica, his parents met and married after their families moved to Southampton in the 1960s. According to Business Today, Sunak's paternal grandparents' birthplace, Gujranwala, lies in modern-day Pakistan's Punjab province. In August 1947, India gained independence from British rule, and its territory was partitioned into modern-day India and Pakistan. Parts of Punjab State, like Lahore, Gujranwala, and Gujrat, are now part of Pakistan. So while Sunak’s family origins lie in modern-day Pakistan, at the time, it would have been part of India, as it had not been divided. 

According to The Conversation, many Indians migrated to East Africa in the nineteenth century. Many Indian immigrants and their descendants remain in East Africa, but a significant number left the country in the second half of the twentieth century. "It was at this time that a significant proportion of the Indian diaspora left Kenya and Tanzania. Instead of returning to India, many settled in the U.S., Canada, and the U.K.," the report said.

In 2015, Sunak told Business Standard in an interview when newly elected as an MP, "British Indian is what I tick on the census, we have a category for it. I am thoroughly British, this is my home and my country, but my religious and cultural heritage is Indian, my wife is Indian." 

The verdict

Rishi Sunak was born in the U.K. to parents whose origins are in India. His grandparents were Indians who migrated to East Africa, where his mother and father were born and brought up. His paternal grandparents were from Gujranwala in modern-day Pakistan's Punjab province, formerly part of India. Hence, we have marked this claim as misleading.

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