SCOTS-Pakistani voters have received phone calls and messages from Pakistan urging them to vote for Anas Sarwar’s Labour Party, The National can reveal.

WhatsApp messages have been circulated in the name of Mohammad Sarwar, the candidate’s ex-MP dad who is now the governor of Punjab.

They come from a phone ­registered in Pakistan and were sent ­individually to Scottish voters. Others have received calls to their homes from numbers matching ­Islamabad-based mobile network Jazz Pakistan.

Those contacted include residents of the Glasgow Southside seat Anas Sarwar aims to win from Nicola Sturgeon. Both are also standing on the list, but this constituency battle marks the first time two serving party leaders have fought for the same seat.

A message seen by The National and received by one man, who has several adult children and asked not to be named, reads: “Warm greetings to you and your family. As all of you know that 6th of May is the ­Scottish Parliament election where Anas ­Sarwar is leading the Scottish Labour Party.

“For progress and unity, I request you to vote for Scottish Labour on BOTH BALLOTS.”

It goes on: “And as always thank you for your support.

“Mohammad Sarwar, Ex-MP ­Glasgow Central.”

A woman from another family, who did not want to be named, told The National how her mother-in-law answered a landline call on speakerphone in the home they share on Monday evening. She said: “The woman asked for my sister-in-law at first and she was speaking Urdu, ­saying ‘we’re calling on behalf of Anas Sarwar and the Labour Party asking you to vote for them’.

“My mother-in-law doesn’t hold back, she said ‘we will be voting both votes SNP’. The person went quiet and that was the end of the call but it was out of the blue. My mother-in-law was asking ‘how did you get my number?’ but she didn’t get an answer.”

Anas Sarwar is fighting his first election as Scottish Labour leader after succeeding Richard Leonard in late February. Before becoming a Glasgow list MSP he was the MP for Glasgow Central – the seat his father previously held.

Mohammad Sarwar became the first Muslim MP in the UK in 1997 and is now serving a second term as the governor of Punjab. The cash-and-carry tycoon resigned as a director of Glasgow-based United Wholesale in 2016.

Campaigning from outwith ­Scotland is not against UK election rules, but non-party campaigners are subject to strict rules on donations and spending. Individuals campaigning for or against a party or candidate are not regulated “where no spending takes place”.

A community source told The National the messages were “widespread”, saying: “Anas has come into his own now but it’s that connection with his father – he was something special, very skilled and switched-on. Labour, for the first time in god knows how long, have someone who can be perceived as being competent, but Anas is still playing off his father’s merit.”

According to YouGov, Anas Sarwar is the second most popular leader in Scotland behind Sturgeon. He’s been praised for his performances in TV leaders’ debates and says he’s taking his party on “a journey to having a Labour First Minister and a Labour Government” in Scotland.

A Labour source told The National Mohammad Sarwar had messaged people personally on WhatsApp and that this may have been forwarded on by other people, but was not part of an official campaign.

Scottish Labour stressed while it was aware that Mohammad Sarwar was personally sending messages to support his son, it had no role in them and is unaware of any phone calls. The party said: “Once again, we have to question why Anas is asked questions about his family that aren’t asked of other politicians. Most proud parents would help their ­children campaign to get elected to parliament, this is no different.”