What FP didn't say about the mayor of Karachi

One of my responsibilities here at Foreign Policy is manning the "FP Editor" e-mail account. It's always fun to come in in the morning and see how readers around the world are reacting to what we print. Sometimes, the reactions can be a bit strange, though.

Yesterday, we started receiving e-mails from readers and journalists in Pakistan asking for comment on reports that we had named Karachi's mayor, Mustafa Kamal, "the second best mayor in the world." This would be an understandable query if we had actually said anything of the sort.

At issue is a sidebar from FP's recent Global Cities Index that names Kamal, Berlin's Klaus Wowereit, and Chongqing's Wang Hongju as "mayors of the moment" who have found innovative ways to globalize their cities. The mayors are not ranked, nor are we implying that they are objectively "better" than any other mayors, but that didn't stop the Karachi city government from issuing a press release on its Web site (they've changed the text since being contacted by FP) congratulating Kamal for being the No. 2 mayor in the world. For the record, the three names are not listed in any particular order.

Pakistan's biggest English-language newspaper, Dawn, then printed a glorified transcription of the mayor's press release by the government-controlled Associated Press of Pakistan as a front-page story without ever checking with us to see if it was accurate.

According to the e-mails we've received, the inaccurate story has been widely reported on Pakistani TV, radio, and blogs. Most absurdly, Karachi's city council apparently held a heated debate over whether to pass a resolution congratulating Kamal for the honor we allegedly bestowed on him. Judging by today's e-mails, the efforts of some blogs to correct the story only seem to have confused readers more.

According to one reporter, who unlike Dawn contacted us for comment, "Karachi is riddled with banners by the local government, congratulating Mr. Kamal for being declared as second best mayor of the world by the Foreign Policy."

We hate to rain on Kamal's parade, and certainly intend him and his city no disrespect, but we simply never ranked him in any way. This entire mess could have been avoided with some very basic fact-checking.


This Week in China

Top Story

Analysts continue to weigh in on China's gargantuan stimulus package, announced Sunday. Many economists believe that China's economic growth will drop into the 7 percent range despite these latest measures.

One China scholar opined in the Wall Street Journal that the biggest potential for a stimulus package would be to pump funding into health and social services, which would ease burdens on consumers and promote domestic consumption. If the Chinese government chose to do this, it would be quite encouraging for the global economy. Unfortunately, the plan seems to be focused on infrastructure spending, the long-term effects of which are hard to predict. Some news outlets are even hailing this as China's "New Deal."

There is also growing discussion of possible motivations that Beijing may not have wanted to mention outright. Inklings of labor unrest have already begun to sprout up in cities across China, which have seen the closure of 67,000 export-producing factories this year. Plus, many of the country's five million college grads last year still have yet to find jobs. But overall, it's a waiting game until the government releases more details about the plan.

General News

Taxi drivers are on strike in the southern resort city of Sanya, adding to similar strikes in the past week in Gansu province and the city of Chongqing.

Beijing annouces a 240 billion RMB ($34 billion) plan to expand transportation infrastructure. The city's plan to quadruple the amount of subway track by 2012 comes after an already feverish period of development in the lead up to the Olympics.

An angry mob of 400 people attacked police in the southern city of Shenzen to protest the death of a motorcyclist who crashed when an officer tried to hit him with a walkie-talkie.


China reacted with criticism to a comment made by Indian Foreign Minister Pranab Mukherjee claiming that the disputed border region of Arunachal Pradesh belongs to India.

Former Taiwan President Chen Shui-bian was arrested as prosecutors prepared corruption charges.

Business & Economy

The Pearl River Delta, a major manufaturing region that includes the southern city of Shenzhen, saw 1,300 companies close their doors in the first nine months of the year.

Chinese CPI, the main indicator for inflation, dropped to 4 percent in October from 4.6 percent in the previous month, signaling a reigning-in of price increases but also an economic slowdown.

Science & Environment

Infectious diseases caused 1,000 Chinese deaths in October. The top culprits were AIDS, rabies, tuberculosis, hepatitis B, and neonatal tetanus, which together accounted for 90 percent of the deaths.

China unveiled its first complete map of the lunar surface.

China Moment

A slew of reactions to Barack Obama's victory speech appeared on China's Internet forums, many of them positive:

So touching! I approve! I continuously supported him and he did not let me down! ... I hope he can really help bring change to America, and also peacefully coexist with China, giving the world positive change!

Read other opinions here.

Photo: China Photos/Getty Images