Bashir Ahmad (camel driver)

Bashir Ahmad (camel driver)

Bashir Ahmad was an impoverished Pakistani camel driver, who in 1961 met with the then US vice-president Lyndon B Johnson and accepted an invitation to come to America [http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,873459,00.html?promoid=googlep Rubaiyat of Bashir Ahmad - TIME ] ] . The vice president soon turned the event into a public relations coup.

The Invitation

Lyndon Johnson was in Pakistan on behalf of President Kennedy as part of a goodwill mission, it was here that he met Bashir Ahmad on a roadside. He used a phrase he had regularly said in his travels, "You all come to Washington and see us sometime" but was completely surprised when the illiterate camel driver accepted his offer [http://www.senate.gov/artandhistory/history/resources/pdf/lyndon_johnson.pdf] . With the press hot on his heels after the acceptance, the vice-president took advantage of the People to-People program to fund the Pakistani's travel expenses. [ [http://www.christers.net/veeps/lyndon-johnson.html Vice President Lyndon Johnson ] ]

The State Visit

Bashir Ahmad was personally greeted by vice-president Johnson on his arrival in New York City, Bashir was then invited to Johnson's private ranch in Texas. During his week stay, the Pakistani was also taken to Kansas City, where he met ex-president Harry S Truman, who referred to him as 'your excellency', as well as to Washington D.C., where he was taken to the Lincoln Memorial, Senate Floor and President Kennedy's office.
Finally, at the end of his stay, as a gesture of further goodwill, vice-president Johnson made arrangements for Bashir to visit the Islamic holy city of Mecca on his return to Pakistan, this act of friendship bought tears to the eyes of the destitute camel driver.

References


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