Former mayor Mustafa Kamal returns to Karachi after prolonged absence

Source: Published in Current Affairs on Thursday, March 3, 2016

KARACHI: Former mayor Mustafa Kamal has returned to Karachi after a prolonged absence from the political scene, with an announcement that he will address a press conference on Thursday at 3pm, alongside close aide and former party co-worker Anees Qaimkhani.

Kamal told DawnNews that the conference will address political matters.

The former mayor belonged to the Muttahida Qaumi Movement (MQM) before he suddenly left he country in Aug 2013. The statement announcing his press conference does not make any mention of the MQM and includes a private residence address in DHA Phase V as the venue.

After his departure, the MQM asked him to quit his senate seat.

The former Karachi nazim, who was elected to the upper house of parliament in 2011, was reportedly working for a construction company in Dubai, and remained in touch with some senior MQM leaders.

In an interview with Herald, a Jamaat-e-Islami leader had hinted at the reason behind Kamal's exit. “The moment Altaf Hussain feared that Mustafa Kamal will surpass him in popularity, he had him sidelined. That is not how political parties work.”

However, a statement issued by the MQM's Central Coordination (Rabita) Committee in Dec 2013 had said that Mr Kamal had gone abroad because of ‘personal and family problems’ and he had formally informed the party leadership before his departure.

The statement also described all news reports about Kamal having developed differences with the party as ‘baseless and fabricated’ and said that he had sent his resignation to the party leadership in the first week of November 2013 citing personal problems as the reason.

The MQM has maintained silence over Kamal's departure from the party. In an interview with Geo last year, MQM supremo Altaf Hussain remained diplomatic when asked about his ties with the former mayor.

Anees Qaimkhani's name had recently surfaced in a joint investigation team report into the Baldia factory fire case that claimed the lives of 259 workers and caused injuries to 50 labourers in Karachi in 2012.

A popular mayor

Kamal is often remembered for being a leader who took initiative during his time as mayor.

American magazine Foreign Policy, had counted Kamal as one of the best mayors in the world.

The magazine described the mayor of Karachi as an unlikely poster child for innovative urban planning.

It said the 36-year-old Mustafa Kamal governs a city thats more often in the news for religious violence than cosmopolitan ways. But the hard-charging Kamal is looking to change all that. Hes courting foreign investment, encouraging international ties, and boosting the citys tourism.

According to the US magazine Kamal is not shy about his goals He has said he wants to turn Karachi into the next Dubai. His Green Karachi project aims to plant thousands of trees in the city. Kamal is not letting anything stand in the way of his grand plans. He has threatened to arrest anyone who tries to cut down the new saplings, it added.

In a statement, the Nazim said that in the past there was no concept of ownership in Karachi. He said his administration carried out development works on a large scale, but added that lot of work still remains to be done.

Mustafa Kamal was the last serving mayor of Karachi and after his departure the Commissionerate system was restored in Sindh province.

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