Pakistani mayor visits from Toledo’s 10th sister city

3/6/2013
BY IGNAZIO MESSINA
BLADE STAFF WRITER
Mayor Mike Bell introduces Syed Barkaat Ahmed Rizvi, mayor of new sister city Hyderabad, Pakistan, to Paula Hicks-Hudson, president of City Council.
Mayor Mike Bell introduces Syed Barkaat Ahmed Rizvi, mayor of new sister city Hyderabad, Pakistan, to Paula Hicks-Hudson, president of City Council.

Hyderabad, Pakistan, has 10 times the population of Toledo, the temperature rarely dips below 50 degrees in winter, and it is considered an important commercial center; but despite the stark differences, its mayor said he has a lot to learn from Toledo.

“Toledo is a city that is well-established with no traffic, no shortage of electricity, wide roads, and the cleanliness is remarkable,” Syed Barkaat Ahmed Rizvi, mayor of Hyderabad, said Tuesday.

Toledo Mayor Mike Bell and Aftab Khatri, the former mayor of Hyderabad, signed an agreement last year making the two sister cities. Hyderabad is the 10th city with which Toledo has established such an alliance, which aims to bring business, cultural, and educational benefits to each of the communities.

Mr. Rizvi spent part of Tuesday visiting waste management company N-Viro International Inc. and solar panel manufacturer Xunlight Corp. before meeting with Mayor Bell and Toledo City Council. He invited the mayor to visit Pakistan.

“I am thankful to everyone who made this relationship,” Mr. Rizvi said before council’s Tuesday meeting. “The relationship between Toledo and Hyderabad will benefit [us], and there are a lot of opportunities for business and other fields.”

Dr. Anwer Ali, chief executive of Unison Clinical Research in Toledo who helped initiate the relationship, believes Toledo-Hyderabad ties will benefit both cities.

“We are trying to bring investment to Toledo from Pakistan,” Dr. Ali said. “We are producing medical tourism, and we already had one person come here for a heart procedure and another is coming."

The exchange also includes sending students to attend school in Toledo. The University of Toledo offers in-state tuition to residents of any of Toledo’s sister cities. Hyderabad sent seven students to Toledo in 2011 and four last year. Ten are expected this year, Dr. Ali said.

Included on Mayor Rizvi’s schedule today are visits to the Wood County landfill, Birmingham Elementary School in East Toledo, and Tony Packo's for dinner.

The first sister city was Toledo, Spain, agreed to in 1931. The relationship was disrupted by the Spanish Civil War and World War II, but rekindled from the late 1950s forward by a group now called the Association of Two Toledos.

The next sister city agreement came in 1985, with Qinhuangdao, China.

The rest are: Szeged, Hungary, in 1990; Poznan, Poland, in 1991; the Bekaa Valley, Lebanon, in 1998; Toyohashi, Japan, in 2000; Tanga, Tanzania, in 2001; and Delmenhorst, Germany, in 2002, and Coimbatore, India, in 2010.

Mayor Bell plans to visit Delmenhorst next month.

Contact Ignazio Messina at: imessina@theblade.com or 419-724-6171, or on Twitter @IgnazioMessina.