USCG Karachi: Controversial Actor/Director Sean Penn Visits Pakistan’s Sindh Province

USCG Karachi’s Consul General William Martin and two-time Academy Award winning actor, screen writer and director Sean Penn visited Badin‘s flood affected areas in Pakistan’s Sindh province and distributed USAID provided assistance to people at two camps. Sean Penn won for his roles in Mystic River (2003) and Milk (2008).  But no controversy here, Sean Penn reportedly refused to talk to the media, saying that the purpose of his visit was solely to interact with the flood survivors.

Photo from USCG Karachi/FB

Below Hollywood Actor Sean Penn pays his respects at the shrine of Abdullah Shah Ghazi on March 24, 2012.

Photo from USCG Karachi/FB

Sean Penn receives ajrak at the Abdullah Shah Ghazi shrine on March 24, 2012

Photo from USCG Karachi/FB

More photos from US ConGen Karachi here.

Blogger, Mahin Maher writes:

Those of us who are a little more familiar with Sean Penn’s work figured that he probably came to learn about the place. I was impressed by the fact that he declined to speak to the media, saying that he was there to speak to the people of Badin who were hit by rain-caused flooding in 2011. This was the second year of devastation for the province. Many people are still displaced.
Penn met the Kohli people of Badin. They are a tribe which has been mostly ignored in terms of development. There was only one literate man who could converse with Penn, I was told.
I am grateful to Penn for visiting at a time when most Americans don’t think of coming here. I blame our government and myself and other privileged people for not helping the Badin people or less privileged. It is not Sean Penn’s job to come and help us if we don’t help ourselves. I just hope that Mr Penn visits again.

The Tribune Express and a host of other local news covered the visit:

Martin and Penn visited Karim Bux Jamali and Dargah Shah Gurio villages in Badin and handed out blankets, quilts, kitchen items and other goods among the people. Later, they also distributed relief goods to a village near Peero Lashari at Talhar road.
Martin, while talking to the media, said that the US has provided goods worth more than $25 million for the flood victims. The USAID has distributed 60,000 emergency shelters in addition to health clinics, which provided medical treatment to over a million people. He added that in the immediate aftermath of the flood, 1.6 million people were supplied water while food was provided to 1.2 million people. An emergency nutrition programme for 16,000 families is still going on, he said. Talking about the relations between Pakistan and the US, Martin said that the relations are slowly being restored as the ‘confusion’ which stemmed from the Salala check post attack dispels.

Domani Spero

@United – these poor diplomatic pets, did the merger gut your heart out?

@United – how can you do this to Felix rescued in Kuala Lumpur after his mom was eaten by a python? Did the merger gut your heart out?

From Pets of the U.S. Foreign Service

Last month, we wrote about United Airlines’ new pet travel policy, the AFSA-organized email appeal to exempt FS personnel on official travel from said policy, and United’s suckingly insulting response. The fight is slowly moving online:

United Airlines Screws the Pooch

United Airlines Screws the Pooch by L Po: “United Airlines has changed its pet shipping policy to make it 10x more expensive to ship a pet overseas. Within days, they granted a special waiver to military members “based on their service” to alleviate the financial burden imposed by the new policy and to help their families stay together. However, they refuse to grant the same waiver to all other U.S. heroes serving the country in embassies and consulates all over the world. Please help us tell United Airlines to think with their heart, not their wallet.”

The Pets of the US Foreign Service

The Pets of the US Foreign Service by mom2nomads: “A video to introduce you to a few pets of the United States Foreign Service. Their families serve their country with integrity and dedication in the Diplomatic Corp. They move on government orders in order to serve their country, just like the military. They deeply love their country, just like the military. They are asking that United Airlines include them in the exemption they’ve given the military from the prohibitively expensive new pet policies.”

Another version of this video with Sting’s Field of Gold is here.

The blog is now collecting photos of pets in the Foreign Service. The blogger writes:

“United basically does not think foreign service personnel and their family pets deserve the same treatment as our military. If shipping the pets costs what the article says it might cost, I don’t know what our family will do.  Stop eating?  Sleep on my FIL’s floor all summer to save money?  It will certainly effect us.

Someone recently suggested a pet blog to highlight pets in the foreign service and how they are a part of our families too.  Obviously I think this is an excellent idea and way to get the word out that this is a VERY important issue.  Please feel free to send along a photo of your pet with a backstory if you wish.  Tell your friends and tell your co-workers.  Send to”

The Foreign Affairs Friends of Animals Network (FAFAN) is keeping an eye on this and has a page on pet travel here.

The Associates of the American Foreign Service Worldwide (AAFSW) also has a page on Foreign Service Pets in the Spotlight here.

Meanwhile, in late March, Stars and Stripes reported that the Defense Department is seeking greater authority from the president to prosecute service members who abandon their pets — a perennial problem within the transient military community.

“The Pentagon wants to broaden its current animal cruelty policy to include abandonment and to cover personal pets, not just “public animals” owned by the military, said Lt. Col. Todd Breasseale.

Troops already can be charged with “dereliction of duty” and “conduct prejudicial to good order and discipline” for abandoning or physically harming their family pets, Breasseale said. But specifying the bad behavior in the Manual for Courts-Martial — the rulebook for prosecutions under the Uniform Code of Military Justice — would strengthen those cases and increase the chance of prosecution.”

We can’t find a line in the Foreign Affairs Manual on pet abandonment. The summer transfer season is just around the corner. With no telling where this is going, perhaps somebody ought to take a look at updating the FAM?

Update: One of our readers called our attention to a new State cable posted in AFSA’s website (UNCLAS STATE 032126 | Pet Travel: New Options For Using Non-Contract Carriers) allowing the use of non-contract airlines:

“Effective immediately, when pets cannot be checked as accompanied baggage, the traveler may use the government rates of a non-contract airline that will accept the pet as baggage. This exemption to mandatory use of a contract carrier outlined in 14 FAM 543 is in addition to exceptions allowing travelers to use excursion or other low fares offered by various carriers. If the airline does allow the pet to be checked as baggage, this exemption does not apply and the traveler must use the contract carrier. The new exemption applies to all airlines participating in the City Pair Program (CPP).”

Click here for AFSA’s Pet Issues Page

And the Fabulous Foreign Service Pets is now in Facebook!

Domani Spero