Pakistan-origin German Mayor visits childhood hometown of Karachi

Sorya Leonie Lippert longs to ‘happily live’ in Karachi again

Sorya Leonie Lippert, who serves the Bavarian city of Schweinfurt, made friends with Benazir Bhutto in school.

She says the former Pakistani PM was raised to be a leader and always wanted to make the world a better place



A German politician of Pakistani origin, who has traveled across cultures and accomplished much over the years, says she remembers her roots and has a longing to eventually settle down in Pakistan.

Sorya Leonie Lippert was born in 1954 to a Pakistani father and German mother in London before her parents moved to Karachi. She was 3 when she arrived in Pakistan and spent her childhood days in different parts of the city.

After spending several years in Pakistan, her family sent Lippert to Germany for education where she married a local man and started pursuing her passions in life. Today, she is the mayor of the Bavarian city of Schweinfurt which has acquired a more multicultural character in recent decades.

“Here, I was never really a Pakistani,” she told Arab News while reminiscing her childhood days. “My mother cooked German food [and] we had German Christmas.”

However, she said that her attachment with Pakistan grew after she moved to Germany.

“I may be a German according to my passport,” she added, “but when I see the vibrancy of this town [Karachi] and the friendliness of people who may have big issues in life, I know that my heart is in Pakistan.”

Lippert has many recollections of her childhood days. She was a classmate of former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and spent two years as her close friend at a boarding school in Murree.

“Benazir was Papa’s daughter,” she smiled. “She was asking for and trying to follow his lead in many things.”

Bhutto was raised and trained to become a leader from the outset, in her opinion.

“Even as a child, she wanted to make the world a better place,” Lippert continued. “She also had a fine sense of humor.”

She said that she tried to reach out to her old friend after the Internet became popular, though her emails could not reach Bhutto.

Despite her busy schedule as mother of six children, president of the German-Pakistan Forum and mayor of Schweinfurt, Lippert said she could not stay away from Pakistan and visited Karachi every two years.

She could not find her ancestral home in the port city which has changed over the years, though she likes to visit the beach whenever she is in town.

“We have a little hut at the Sandspit Beach,” she said. “My friends always tell me, ‘You can’t go there. It’s dangerous.’ But I need to go there.”

Lippert said her city of 55,000 inhabitants in Germany hardly had any Pakistanis when her family first moved there, adding things had changed and one could spot many Pakistani students on the streets now.

“If I see them on the road, I tend to greet them and say, ‘Hey, are you from Pakistan? If ever you have an issue, come to me,’” she said.

Sharing her memories of Karachi, she said that she liked the Frere Hall Garden, a place she drove past daily during her childhood while going to school.

“I really remember this wonderful park,” she added.

Lippert, who is now a grandmother, said she had no plans of running for the mayor’s office again. If anything, she would like to embrace Karachi as her permanent home.

“If my husband were not there [in Germany] anymore, I’m seriously thinking that I [would have been] very happy living here again.”


Naimat Khan is a Karachi-based journalist and represents Arab News.

Courtesy: Arab News (Published on Dec 4, 2022)


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