By Ahsan

Correction appended below.

Alright, so we’re often accused of peddling only discouraging, distressing, and depressing news and views on this blog, and rightly so I guess. So I just wanted to take the opportunity to highlight the fact that Mustafa Kamal, Mayor of Karachi, has been declared by FP to be the one of the world’s top mayors. It is important to note that this is not a ranking per se, but merely well deserved recognition for the immense work Mustafa Kamal has put into the city. (You can see their entire report on Global Cities here.)

There’s a lot to like about Mustafa Kamal, but the one thing that stands out (for me anyway) is his pragmatic approach to problem solving. His entire tenure in Karachi has been about making the lives of its citizens easier, more prosperous, and less chaotic. He tries to stay above the political and ideological fray and just goes about his job. Is he always successful? No, of course not. But that has more to do with the way Karachi and Pakistan work than the way Mustafa Kamal works.


One of his best ideas was instituted this summer: his “I Own Karachi” program, which basically asked for common citizens to come forward and volunteer to work for the city (directing traffic, keeping streets clean etc etc). The brilliance of this idea was in its simplicity and effectiveness: all you have to do is give the do-gooders out there an avenue to make a contribution to their city. There’s tons of people out there – across ethnic, gender and socioeconomic lines – who want to make a difference; Mustafa Kamal recognized that and simply facilitated it. (If you are a Karachi resident and would like to volunteer, you can register by going on the Sadistic Goremint’s website and clicking on the “I Own Karachi” link on the lefthand side of the page.) He’s always receptive of fresh ideas and new ways of doing things, and Karachi is lucky to have him.

If you are interested, you can read about a couple of encounters I had with the man himself in Chicago, while he was on his tour to the U.S. last spring (the second is more entertaining than the first).

UPDATE/CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post incorrectly noted that Mustafa Kamal was ranked number 2 by FP among the world’s mayors. As reader NA noted in the comments below, there was no ranking as such. However, the magazine does place him among “the world’s top mayors,” which is good enough if you think about it. I have corrected both the offending headline and sentence in the post.