BOLINGBROOK – Local business leader Mir Ali describes the first time Pakistan’s flag was raised outside the village as a landmark event within the Pakistani and Bolingbrook communities.
“The first Pakistani people moved to Bolingbrook about 25 years ago,” Ali said. “And 22 years ago, Talat Rashid, a planning commissioner and founder of Bolingbrook’s Association of Pakistani Americans, lobbied that the flag be raised on Pakistani Independence Day.”
About 20 families witnessed Bolingbrook’s first Pakistani flag hoisting ceremony and Ali explains that the inaugural proceeding steadily evolved into Bolingbrook’s annual Pakistan Day – an event that is attended by locals and visitors from Iowa, Ohio and Canada – and shed light on Bolingbrook’s burgeoning Pakistani community.
“Bolingbrook is the only town in the nation that holds such a historic ceremony where the Pakistani flag has been hoisted for 22 years and the Consulate General of Pakistan has always attended,” Ali said. “What started out as a ceremony with only 20 families has grown into a celebration with over 10,000 people.”
Since that initial event, Ali, too, has become a driving force in preserving and ushering Pakistani culture to the Bolingbrook community.
A native of Pakistan, Ali emigrated to Glen Ellyn when he was 2 years old. He later received a bachelors in business administration from UC Berkeley, then returned home to the western suburbs.
“About 90 percent of my family lives in the Chicagoland area, so this will always be home to me,” Ali said. “I was looking at places to settle and Bolingbrook seemed like a great fit – a diverse, tight-knit community full of opportunity.”
Currently, Ali is the director of operations for Shamrock Companies – a Yumm! Brands franchisee with more than 40 KFC and Taco Bell locations throughout the midwest. Additionally, he is the president and CEO of Midwest Brass and Marble, a wholesale stone and metal retailer.
His mission to serve and help others extends far beyond the business world.
About 10 years ago, Ali founded the Bolingbrook Youth Cricket League and Bolingbrook Premier League, volunteer-run organizations that work to make cricket both accessible and affordable to people of all ages. The organization helped establish two cricket fields in Bolingbrook and more than 130 children have graduated from the youth league.
In addition, Ali also started the “Wickets not Tickets” initiative, a program geared toward underprivileged teens – many of whom are first and second generation immigrants – who are experiencing difficulties acclimating to American society.
“Youth has been our focus since day one,” Ali said. “We have tried to grow the sport on a grassroots level and use cricket as a device to keep children out of trouble.”