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I BELIEVE, PAKISTAN MUST TAKE A GIANT STEP STRAIGHT INTO THE TWENTY-FIRST CENTURY. - 1964-12-05

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Event - 1964-12-05
Date: 
Saturday, 1964, December 5
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Pakistan's position and responsibility It has been my good fortune during the last seven years, on practically every tour I have made in Africa or Asia, to meet your brother Rotarians and to have the opportunity of talking to them. I have always enjoyed these encounters very much indeed as my community keeps me very busy, and it is rare that I should have such fine occasions to meet the elite in one function in the City I am visiting. I thank you most sincerely for this dinner and for having so kindly invited me to continue in Dacca a tradition set by your brother Rotarians in other parts of the world.

Pakistan's situation today both internally and internationally is exceptional; she has had a stable Government and, though to a certain extent the economy has been planned, I would find it difficult to say that private initiative has been stalled or hampered; results have been achieved and I believe that they have been voluminous enough to be really significant to the standards of living of the country. Weather the means of achieving these results have been accepted or not will be decided in the forthcoming months. Internationally, Pakistan has the reputation of being a sound, stable, developing country; she is neither over- committed nor is she totally uncommitted; particularly she has the reputation of non - interference in the internal affairs of other States. It would seem, therefore, that her position is unique.

Although Muslim states of similar size superficially resembling Pakistan may have followed somewhat similar policies, I cannot think of one individual Muslim State which has had a recent past made up of similar characteristics to those I have just mentioned. It is rare in life that a unique position does not carry with it unique responsibilities, and it is to some of these that I would like to refer today.

THE TAPESTRY OF ISLAM The tapestry of Islamic history is studded with jewels of civilization; these jewels poured forth their light and beauty; great statesmen, great philosophers, great doctors, great astronomers; but these individuals, these precious stones were worked into a tapestry, whose dominant theme was Islam, and this theme remained dominant regardless of the swallowing up of foreign lands, foreign cultures, foreign languages and foreign people. Personally I am doubtful as to whether our great sages would ever have existed had the society in which they lived not been sufficiently strong, vigorous enough, sufficiently convinced of the truth of its own beliefs to be able to absorb foreign influences without these becoming the dominant elements in society. I believe that Pakistan, in the unique position in which she is today , carries the heavy responsibility of having to try to recreate for her on good, and for the good of the Muslim world in general, a tapestry born from her and which will be sufficiently strong, not only to remain uninfluenced by non Muslim concepts, but also to supply the needles and thread for the tapestry of the future. THE LESSON OF HISTORY I have one weakness, which probably comes from the fact that I received my Degree in History: I like to look backwards before going forwards rather than going forwards before ending up going backwards. So much do I hope that world Muslim leadership knows in what type of society it wishes to live in 50 to 75 years' time; that I have spent many hours trying to find some of the guiding lines by which we can direct our society so that it may become strong, proud and vigorous in the 21st century.

START NOW Tapestry is a work of labour and love, but if the outline of the design is clear, if the colours are indicated, it takes only time, will-power and the material requirements to complete the work of art. I believe it is Pakistan's duty to herself and to her brother Muslims all over the world to attempt to design this outline herself. Her problem lies in the fact that the Instruments she is using and will have to continue to use for some time yet are not conceived nor made by her. But I do believe that she must start now, immediately, not a day letter to adapt these instruments to her own requirements in view of designing the outline for the future as she intends that her tapestry should look 50 years hence later to be filled in by succeeding generations. In practical terms this means a continuous review of all aspects of her citizens' lives in order that their future may be guided towards the type of society which she has chosen for her generations yet to be born. THE

CHOICE OF MUSLIMS During this tour I have had the occasion to admire innumerable and grandiose new buildings in both wings of Pakistan; I have had the good fortune of admiring the paintings and sculptures of highly talented young Pakistanis; I have had the occasion to dabble in the writings of young Pakistani authors. In all these fields I sincerely missed the feeling that the new foreign-born knowledge, the new styles, the new concepts were being adapted to the needs of a new, vigorous Muslim society. In sculpture and painting, the best artists have left the country and now are making a name for themselves outside Pakistan and infusing their new ideas, their natural gift and their ability into the youth and the schools of art of other countries- countries in which Islam has little, if any influence.

Amongst the new buildings in this country: offices, schools, banks, how many have been conceived with the wish to infuse new vigour, new style, new charm in traditional Muslim architecture, rather than importing styles, concepts and motives, developed, used and admired outside the realm of Islam? Should we not fear that through the lake of encouragement to our architects in modernising our traditional architecture, they will lose all concept of what was their own native tradition and end up like certain species of birds that were so long prevented from flying that complete atrophy of the wings ensued.

If we go on importing with no attempt to adapt, does the danger not exist that one day our future generations will look upon what was traditionally theirs as archaic, outmoded and senile, In the process of adaptation we would be vain and wrong to believe or to hope that we will be able to create outstanding works of art in our own tradition in architecture, literature, painting or culture within a matter of years, but unless we begin creating the tapestry, drawing in the outlines, how can we ever expect that generations from now we will be able to have right to hope for jewels of world-beauty, men of world-stature in all fields, such as those as have studded our past.

A DYNAMIC ISLAMIC SOCIETY If to create a society in the future, which is adapted to the genius of the Muslims of the sub-continent, it is necessary to be vigilant at all times in the way we use imported tools and concepts, I donot think that we should fear this importation. On the contrary, I have said on many occasions, and would like to repeat here, that in some fields I believe. Pakistan must take a giant step straight into the 21st century; this means devoting a considerable portion of the nation's intellectual energy to remaining abreast of new technical developments. ADAPTATION OF NEW

PROCESSES I would hope that the very newest sources of energy-nuclear, solar or otherwise, that new methods of industrial production, that new knowledge on sea water conversion and sea-water food extraction should be tracked carefully by the technical intelligentsia of this country. As soon as a break through in any one of these fields were to make a new process worth while to Pakistan; I would hope that, it should be imported adapted and put to immediate use. This new technical knowledge about the world in which we live often cannot be used in the industrialized societies of today because of ironclad labour rules, social conditions or habits which would make the process of development excessively costly and generally unpopular.

In fact, I would go further and suggest that Pakistan should welcome on her soil development of new processes for in this way the educated youth could be trained immediately in the forefront of technical development. In practical terms this would mean that Pakistan should have a number of representatives in the advanced research centers of the world. I do not believe that this would be excessively costly, and I am convinced that the fruit would be plentiful; Japan itself has followed this course and nobody could deny its very great success.

If the Rotary Club in the spirit of social service which characterizes it can help to sponsor or could sponsor itself outstanding authors, architects, scientists, technicians or other intellectual leadership of this country, I believe that you would be rendering an immense service, not only to those who benefit from your support, but also all those generations which will follow us and which must, I feel, not only believe in Islam but must live in a new alert forward looking Muslim society.

H. R. H. PRINCE KARIM AGA KHAN


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