Karachi-educated scholar named US envoy to OIC

Monitoring Desk

WASHINGTON, Feb 27: US President George W. Bush, seeking to improve America’s image in the Muslim world, on Wednesday appointed the first US envoy to the Organisation of Islamic Conference. Sada Cumber, an Ismaili Muslim, is a Texas entrepreneur and two-term president of the Aga Khan Council for Southwest USA.

President Bush, who first indicated in June 2007 that he would send an envoy to the OIC, met Mr Cumber at the White House earlier on Wednesday. The White House has not yet released Mr Cumber’s bio-data but various US news blogs identified him as an American of Pakistani origin who has studied at the University of Karachi.

Mr Cumber was an adviser to the gov ernor of Texas for economic development, emerging technology, business and higher education. He was also an honorary consul general of the Republic of Malta.

White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, while announcing Mr Cumber’s appointment, told a briefing that Mr Bush considers OIC and important organisation and that’s why he appointed a special envoy to the group. “(The organisation) has a constructive role to play in the world, and the president is signalling our desire to have a greater dialogue with the organisation as well as Muslims around the world,” she said.

Asked why Mr Bush’s search for an envoy took as long as it did, Ms Perino replied: “He wanted to find the right person and he found that in Sada Cumber.” The first US envoy to the OIC is an astute businessman and has founded six companies in the past 25 years. Currently, he is chairman of SozoTek Inc., a global imaging technology company in Texas.

Before founding SozoTek, he was chairman of Psionic Technologies Inc., an Internet security software company acquired by Cisco Systems in 2002. In 1995, he co-founded Applied Science Fiction, a company specialising in a digital dry film process whose technologies were recently acquired by Kodak. He previously owned Triumph Flexo Industries, which was acquired by American Greetings in 1994.

Mr Cumber also serves as the chairman of TCMS-LLC, an intellectual property development company, and he is a principal in Texas Global-LLP, a partnership that manages the strategic intersection between business, government and public affairs.

President Bush announced his plan to name a special envoy to OIC back in June, when he attended a ceremony honouring the 50th anniversary of the Islamic Centre in Washington. “Our special envoy will listen to and learn from representatives from Muslim states, and will share with them America’s views and values,” Mr Bush said at the time.

While commenting on the appointment, the US media noted the move comes at a time when the war in Iraq has fanned anti-American sentiment across the Muslim world. The OIC was created in 1969 in response to an arson attack on the al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem.


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