Great Un­ex­pec­ta­tions

When Amer­i­can cit­i­zens Gary D. LeClair and Mike Mul­vi­hill ar­rived in Karachi, they had many neg­a­tives in their minds. This changed to pos­i­tive once they got to see the place and meet the people.

Southasia - - PERSPECTIVE - By Javed An­sari The writer is Edi­tor of this mag­a­zine and a reg­u­lar con­trib­u­tor on po­lit­i­cal sub­jects.

When Gary LeClair and Mike Mul­vi­hill vis­ited the fish har­bour in Karachi, they opened the car win­dow to smell the breeze out­side. This was the sig­na­ture they were look­ing for as an au­then­tic to­ken of the re­al­ity of the place rather than a pro­tected look through a closed glass win­dow.

Gary LeClair, Mike Mul­vi­hill and their wives were in Karachi re­cently to at­tend the wed­ding of the son of their friend and busi­ness as­so­ciate, Owais Da­gra.

Dur­ing their 10-day stint they were taken across Karachi and its en­vi­rons by their hosts, thus get­ting the op­por­tu­nity to meet a lot of people from all walks of life. They met bankers and stock ex­change ex­ec­u­tives, a tribal chief and the owner of a fish­ing trawler, tex­tile mill work­ers and metal crafters, high of­fi­cials at Sui Soth­ern Gas Com­pany, doc­tors at the Aga Khan Univer­sity Hospi­tal and wor­ship­pers at a mosque.

Gary D. LeClair is the founder and Chair­man of the na­tional law firm LeClair Ryan which pro­vides se­cu­ri­ties and gen­eral coun­sel ser­vices through some 350 lawyers based in cities all the way from New York to Los Angeles. He has been the lead at­tor­ney in pri­vate and pub­lic fi­nanc­ings, joint ven­tures, strate­gic al­liances, merg­ers and ac­qui­si­tions and other ma­jor do­mes­tic and in­ter­na­tional trans­ac­tions. He has also served as di­rec­tor of var­i­ous busi­ness en­ti­ties, in­clud­ing a bank, an in­de­pen­dent trust com­pany, a res­i­den­tial de­vel­oper, an ecom­merce busi­ness and a re­tail net­work.

Al­though avid global-trot­ters, this was the first time that the LeClairs were vis­it­ing any part of South Asia. Gary said that as far as Amer­i­cans are con­cerned, their per­cep­tions about the out­side world tend to be limited and that his im­pres­sions of Pak­istan were in­flu­enced by news cov­er­age of the Tal­iban and the war in Afghanistan which tended to put Pak­istan in a neg­a­tive light. But he said that since Amer­i­cans are skep­ti­cal people, it’s good that they want to hear the other side of the story as well. Af­ter he and his friends ar­rived in Karachi and ex­pe­ri­enced the coun­try and the people from close, they found ev­ery­thing to be so dif­fer­ent – there were so many pos­i­tives about Pak­istan they never knew about.

Gary says Pak­istan is like any other young and grow­ing coun­try with the added ad­van­tages of a com­mon law that it has in­her­ited from the Bri­tish, the English lan­guage which is the means of of­fi­cial and busi­ness com­mu­ni­ca­tion and a high num­ber of very well-ed­u­cated pro­fes­sion­als.

He is also im­pressed by the down­right kind­ness of the Pak­istani people. In his view, Pak­istan should ag­gres­sively pro­mote ev­ery­thing good about it­self – like its di­ver­sity in food, the warmth of its people, its long and beau­ti­ful coast­line, its vi­brant fash­ion in­dus­try and the free­dom of the press. This would be an an­swer to the neg­a­tive pic­ture of Pak­istan that the in­ter­na­tional me­dia tends to paint.

Gary agrees that Pak­istan also faces a num­ber of chal­lenges, like cor­rup­tion, law­less­ness, etc., but he says, it took the United States some 200 years to over­come all this – the var­i­ous mafias that con­trolled ev­ery­thing, so this should not worry Pak­istan.

In his view, Pak­istan should prove to be an at­trac­tive des­ti­na­tion for for­eign in­vest­ment be­cause the people are hard work­ing and also kind and re­spect­ful. He met a wide cross-sec­tion dur­ing his stay in the coun­try and they all came across as people of dy­namism and vi­tal­ity who had a pos­i­tive at­ti­tude to­wards ev­ery­thing. What added to this was the coun­try’s in­tel­lec­tual cap­i­tal – all those Pak­ista­nis who have re­ceived ed­u­ca­tion and train­ing abroad. As such, Gary feels that Pak­istan must fo­cus on its pos­i­tives and take

ad­van­tage of the many op­por­tu­ni­ties it has in terms of its young pop­u­la­tion and its count­less at­trac­tions in ev­ery walk of life.

Mike Mul­vi­hill is Ex­ec­u­tive Vice Pres­i­dent of the ma­jor Amer­i­can PR com­pany Padilla/CRT, which is one of the top 10 in­de­pen­dent pub­lic re­la­tions and com­mu­ni­ca­tions firms in the US. Mike has de­vel­oped a wealth of ex­pe­ri­ence work­ing with a range of top line clients in­clud­ing For­tune 500 com­pa­nies, govern­ment agencies, col­leges and uni­ver­si­ties, banks, as­so­ci­a­tions, pro­fes­sional ser­vice or­ga­ni­za­tions, not-for-profit com­pa­nies and high tech­nol­ogy firms.

For Mike and his wife too, this was their first visit to Pak­istan and it proved to be a great ex­pe­ri­ence for them. Mike says that when he and his friends were plan­ning the visit, a lot of people asked them why we were go­ing to Pak­istan of all places be­cause the State Depart­ment dis­cour­aged Amer­i­cans from vis­it­ing this par­tic­u­lar South Asian coun­try.

How­ever, af­ter Mike and his other as­so­ciates landed in Karachi, they found it to be a dif­fer­ent place al­to­gether and were wel­comed by people from across all strata. They say they never for a mo­ment felt threat­ened in any way. They were im­pressed by the over­all young age of the pop­u­la­tion as well as by the eco­nomic vi­brancy that clearly came across.

Mike Mul­vi­hill agrees that since Pak­istan is a young coun­try, it is go­ing through its grow­ing pains but he feels that it should take ad­van­tage of its best re­source – the youth. He re­gret­ted that the in­ter­na­tional news me­dia only show a small and neg­a­tive slice of what the coun­try re­ally is and com­pared this to show­ing crime in the Bronx area of New York rather than show­ing all the good things about the United States.

Mike is of the opin­ion that there is noth­ing nec­es­sar­ily wrong with Pak­istan and the coun­try can move to­wards eco­nomic sta­bil­ity with con­fi­dence. What it needs is a bet­ter in­fra­struc­ture and im­prove­ments at the so­cio-eco­nomic level. Given that, the coun­try has the po­ten­tial to grow rapidly be­cause it has so much in nat­u­ral re­sources that can fetch it good money.

Mike par­tic­u­larly en­joyed his visit to the Stal­lion Tex­tiles Mills Ltd. in Noo­ri­abad which had about 2,000plus work­ers and was prob­a­bly the big­gest such mill in the world.

The wed­ding Mike and Gary at­tended with their spouses of­fered the kind of fes­tiv­i­ties they had never seen be­fore. The women vis­ited dif­fer­ent beauty par­lours al­most ev­ery day to get ready for the wed­ding func­tions and were amazed by the lat­est ser­vices of­fered. They loved the com­pli­cated pat­terns of henna (mehndi) that were ap­plied to their hands and feet and also the glass chur­ris (ban­gles) they wore at the var­i­ous cer­e­monies. They found the Pak­istani dresses they got to wear very com­fort­able and the men loved their Pe­shawari chap­pals (san­dals).

The group at­tended a loud New Year’s bash, the like of which they hadn’t seen for many years. Their stay was, in fact, a sam­pling of Karachi life that in­cluded sor­ties to bazaars and shop­ping malls like the Pak Tow­ers and Dol­men Mall as well as eat­ing sprees at restaurants that ranged from a dhaba in Naz­imabad called Café Ma­jes­tic where they had daal to a road­side tea stall in the same area, a high-end fine din­ing French restau­rant, ex­quis­ite Ja­panese cui­sine and ev­ery­thing else in be­tween that served mouth­wa­ter­ing Pak­istani food.

Mike says Pak­istan has tremen­dous nat­u­ral re­sources, such as one of the world’s largest de­posits of cop­per and its de­li­cious mango and or­anges crops. To him what makes Pak­istan so im­por­tant is its size and lo­ca­tion be­cause it is the 6th largest coun­try in the world in terms of pop­u­la­tion and among the 11 de­vel­op­ing economies. Pak­istan should take ad­van­tage of its easy ac­cess to China and In­dia and de­velop busi­ness to busi­ness con­tacts, so that con­sumer goods can move from Pak­istan to these mar­kets be­cause this of­fers a great world of op­por­tu­nity.

In Mike’s view, Pak­istan could be a good in­vest­ment des­ti­na­tion be­cause the stock mar­ket here is do­ing so well, the econ­omy is young and the reg­u­la­tory setup pro­vides great op­por­tu­ni­ties. As for the neg­a­tive fac­tors, he says those are a re­al­ity in other coun­tries too and things get done there. These should not be taken as de­ter­rents as a pos­i­tive cul­ture of busi­ness is evolv­ing in the coun­try. He feels for­eign in­vestors would soon head to the coun­try be­cause it of­fers vast phys­i­cal and hu­man re­sources.

As for all the con­cern about safety, in Mike’s view, this would also ap­ply to many other places around the world. He says that Pak­istan should make ex­tra ef­forts to bring about global aware­ness about its vast nat­u­ral re­sources and should act very proac­tively to pro­mote this to the ad­van­tage of the coun­try.

Gary LeClair: Fo­cus on pos­i­tives, take ad­van­tage of op­por­tu­ni­ties.

Mike Mul­vi­hill: Pak­istan could be a good in­vest­ment des­ti­na­tion.

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