A delegation from the Karachi Chamber of Commerce and Industries (KCCI) has invited Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi to visit Pakistan and share the secrets of his successful economic model. However, according to senior officials at the KCCI, the invitation is not in an official capacity.
Impressed by accelerated development in the western Indian state, the delegation called for exploring greater cooperation in trade and industry between Gujarat and Pakistan, a state government statement said.
The statement further mentioned that the delegation invited Modi to visit Pakistan and address the heads of Pakistan’s industries and business on the Gujarat model of development through video-conferences to be arranged by the Karachi chamber.
The delegation was in Gujarat to attend the Asia Colour Chemicals Mega Exhibition, held in Ahmedabad. It took some time off to meet the chief minister at his residence in Gandhinagar and hold detailed discussions.
According to the statement, the delegation was impressed by the state government’s transparent and progressive policies, which are conducive to industrial growth.
Looking at the long association between Gujarat and Sindh, members of the delegation urged Modi to use his office to start a direct flight between Ahmedabad and Karachi. In Karachi, however, senior figures in the KCCI played down the invitation and denied that it had come in an official capacity.
Chairman Businessmen Group (BMG) Siraj Kassam Teli said that “there was no official invite given to any Indian leader from KCCI’s platform. But yes, some of our members in their recent visit to India may have personally invited Narendra Modi to Pakistan.”
Teli’s group has won consecutive elections for more than last 10 years at the KCCI.
“Some of our members were part of a delegation of a chemical association that recently visited Ahmedabad, but the chemical association was not officially representing KCCI,” he added.
Despite being praised for steering Gujarat’s economic success, Modi is a controversial figure. He is perceived as having been deliberately inactive and ignoring riots between Hindus and Muslims in 2002 that led to thousands of Muslim deaths. As a result, he has been denied a visa to the US and UK, with some even accusing him of ‘genocide’. (With additional reporting by Farhan Zaheer in Karachi)
Published in The Express Tribune, December 11th, 2011.