The President and the Pakistani, a new play about Barack and the friend he left behind

Rashid Razaq in the London Evening Standard:

ScreenHunter_10 Sep. 22 17.48In fact, Obama had several close Pakistani friends. There was Imdad Husain, the intellectual British public school-educated room-mate at Occidental College, who spoke with an English accent and was partial to “peacoats and rugby shirts”; And the gregarious and generous Hasan Chandoo, whose family were in the shipping business and became like a “big brother”. The 20-year-old Obama even went to Karachi for his summer holidays in 1981, splitting his time there between the homes of Chandoo and another friend Wahid Hamid.

“These were my closest friends,” said Obama years later. World citizens who spanned cultures and shared his international perspective. It was to Beenu Mahmood that a young Obama revealed the fierce ambition that he kept hidden from almost everybody with the question, “Do you think I will be President of the United States?”

So tight was his clique that Obama’s white Australian girlfriend, Genevieve Cook, grumbled that they only ever seemed to socialise with the “Paki Mob” even after he had graduated and was working as a business researcher in New York.

David Maraniss’ expansive biography, Barack Obama: The Making of The Man, published earlier this year, minutely details how the future President formed life-long friendships with his Pakistani college buddies, sketching in the real people behind his fictional characters and even highlighting inconsistencies in Obama’s own account of his life in Dreams. Chandoo and Hamid, who became high-fliers in the worlds of finance and business, were invited to Obama’s wedding to Michelle in 1992 and even fundraised for his last election campaign. But there was one member of the Paki Mob Obama did not stay in touch with and his story is the most intriguing.

More here.

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