COPAA Plays Host to Karachi’s Celebrated Mayor
A Pakistan Link Report
Pictures by YKKB & Faiz Ahmed
Pictures above: Glimpses of COPAA’s ‘informative forum’ to honor Syed Mustafa Kamal, Mayor of Karachi
Los Angeles , CA : “We have done more in three years than what others did in 60 years. Our effort is still a drop in the ocean… we have a long, long way to go,” so said a buoyant Syed Mustafa Kamal, Mayor of Karachi, at a reception hosted in his honor by the Council of Pakistan American Affairs (COPAA) at the UCLA Covell Commons Northwest Campus Auditorium on Saturday, March 7.
The COPAA ‘informative forum’ to honor Kamal, recipient of the ‘Second Best Mayor in the World Award,’ brought together a large number of diplomats, city planners, and prominent community members to hear the gritty mayor recount his strenuous strivings to rescue and restructure a city whose development had remained largely ignored for more than half a century. “We started with a simple vision – to make life comfortable for every Karachi resident,” he explained.
But, the going was tough, nay, torturous. Almost the entire city was dug up as new sewage and water lines were laid to banish overflowing gutters and make up for scanty water supply in some areas of the sprawling city: Karachi is bigger than 60 full-fledged countries of the world! A vast network of roads was introduced and flyovers speedily constructed to relieve the city of unbearable congestion at busy roads and routes. “One flyover used to take 7-11 years to be completed. That is now history.” Working around the clock in three shifts, Kamal’s zestful team succeeded in constructing the flyovers and roads in record time. “We had to clear the backlog and do the work of the next generation,” he responsibly explains. New imposing buildings, more open spaces, parks, and restoration of city monuments and landmarks too were given due attention.
What sounded like music to the ears was Kamal’s assertion that he and his lieutenants had served all segments of Karachi’s population without any distinction. Even in places where his party - the Muttahida Qaumi Movement - did not enjoy popular support, no efforts were spared to attend to the civic needs of the residents. All Karachiites were treated equally.
Even people who had been living on remote islands for three hundred years without recourse to fresh tap water now enjoy access to it, thanks to Kamal and the MQM’s strivings.
Kamal does not sound a braggart as he dilates on his multifarious undertakings with spontaneous alacrity. There is no undue show of affectation in his mannerism. He appears repetitive, and at times, incoherent. The clipped British accent is not his forte. He is stark simple. Yet, his simplicity and truthfulness vividly stand out. He seems to betray his safed-posh middle class background that all Pakistanis of substance are proud of.
“Serving Karachi is like serving Pakistan. We are proud to be Pakistanis. All people of Karachi feel the same way,” Kamal says.
He impresses the gathering. He motivates many.
Earlier, COPAA’s President Adnan Khan, makes an apt and telling remark: “How could Pakistan be a failed state when we have a city whose mayor is recognized among the best in the world?”