Why did Mustafa Kamal go to the United States?
The purpose of city nazim Mustafa Kamal’s on-going trip to the United States has been the subject of much discussion lately. All three major English dailies, Dawn, The News and Daily Times have carried stories on it recently.
On Monday, Daily Times reported he was getting “special treatment” from the State Department because they viewed him as a potential future leader of the country. The report in Monday’s The News was also on similar lines, it quoted CNN’s State Department Correspondent Zain Virje as saying that the mayor of Karachi was a “guest with a mission”. Daily Times also published the full transcript of the interview Kamal gave to Virje, and even though Kamal played down speculation about the purpose of his visit, telling Dawn‘s Anwer Iqbal that he had come to the United States to urge American businessmen to invest in his city, speculation is still rife.
According to the Dawn report, some believe that Kamal might have been sent on a mission to “strengthen President Pervez Musharraf” and “build bridges with Pakistan’s future” (unquote Zain Virje). Other reports, Dawn adds, suggest “the US was trying to put together an alliance of like-minded parties to back the next political set-up in Pakistan should the PML-N quit the government”. Interesting theories all these, not sure I can say I sense any ulterior motives too, but these are interesting nevertheless. Here’s what Mustafa Kamal and the State department had to say about the matter (quoting from Dawn):
“It is not my domain,” said Mr Kamal when asked if he was here for talks aimed at strengthening President Musharraf. “I was not here to discuss this sort of things. My role remains confined to Karachi. I had no political talks.”
A State Department spokesman, when asked to comment on Mr Kamal’s meetings with officials at the department, said: “If you are looking for an ulterior motive, there’s none.”
The mayor’s 40-minute meeting with Assistant Secretary Richard Boucher was his only at the State, said the official.
“Mr Boucher talks to a lot of people,” said the official. “They had met in Pakistan a month ago when Mr Boucher visited Karachi. We got word that he was in town, wanted to come by, say hello to Mr Boucher and present an album of his trip to Karachi.”
Mr Kamal also denied having a hidden agenda. “All I can say is that Karachi is a very important city and has a very strategic role to play in Pakistan,” said the mayor. “People are realising Karachi’s importance. We have developed that city and now we are seeking investment.”
He said that the US State Department had helped arrange his meetings with the American business community and officials in various cities. He has already met the mayors of Chicago and Houston and the deputy mayor in Washington. In New York, he has a series of meetings with potential investors and is also meeting the board of directors of the world’s largest stock exchange.
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