U.S. Special Representative to Muslim Communities feels at home in Karachi

KARACHI:U.S. Department of State Special Representative to Muslim Communities, Shaarik Zafar, visited Karachi to meet with government officials, students, private-sector representatives, and members of civil society, a US Consulate statement said here on Saturday.

“While I grew up in Houston, Texas, I was born in Karachi and visited often when I was a child,” said Zafar who was here from Feb 19-20. “The sights, sounds and scents of Karachi are all very familiar to me.

” The United States and Pakistan share a strong interest in building a better understanding of each other’s cultures said Zafar adding my office wants to help Muslims tell their own stories, to share the positive impacts that they are having on their communities.

We want them to be able to share that positive energy to create good role models to help in the fight against violent extremism and to empower women. Special Representative Zafar, who was joined by Albar Sheikh from the same office, met with human rights NGOs and participated in a panel discussion on diversity and multiculturalism in the United States with students at the Pakistan American Culture Center.

He also enjoyed an “American feast” with members of the Pakistan U.S. Alumni Network (PUAN) as well as meeting leaders of madrassas and advisors on religious affairs. One of the highlights was joining “Food Diaries” on Masala TV with host Zarnak Sidwa. In fact, Karachi and Houston are sister cities, said Zafar. While on the show, Zafar cooked up some special Texan breakfast tacos, while getting a taste of home in Ms. Sidwa’s chicken biryani.

Both cultures love barbecue and they like their spices. Texas and Pakistan are a perfect match, he said. As part of Secretary of State John Kerry’s Office of Religion and Global Affairs, Special Representative Zafar drives the U.S.

Department of State’s engagement with Muslim communities around the world. In addition to advancing bilateral relations, Special Representative Zafar focuses on promoting entrepreneurship and economic development; creating educational and training opportunities for young people; and supporting community efforts to build social cohesion, counter violent extremism, and share their own stories.

Through his conversations in Islamabad, Special Representative Zafar witnessed first-hand how Pakistanis are tackling these same issues and challenges, and pursuing opportunities to create a more prosperous future for their nation.