SPEECH OF PRESIDENT GEN. MUHAMMAD ZIA-UL-HAQ at the Inauguration of The Aga Khan University's Faculty of Health Sciences and of The Aga Khan University Hospital Karachi. November 11, 1985
Your Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan; Your Highness Begum Aga Khan; Lieutenant-General Jahan Dad Khan, Governor, Sind; Mr. Justice Ghous Ali Shah, Chief Minister of Sind; Mr. Shams Lakha; Honourable Ministers; Members of the Senate, National Assembly & Provincial Assemblies; Excellencies; Distinguished Guests; Ladies and Gentlemen:
It is a matter of great pleasure and honour for me to welcome your Highness to Pakistan, once again, and particularly to the city of Karachi - which apart from many other reasons of attracting your attention, is also the birthplace of your illustrious grandfather.
Your last visit, Your Highness, in 1983, coincided with the presentation of the Charter of the Aga Khan University. Today, by the grace of Allah, the buildings of the Hospital, the Faculty of Health Sciences, and the Hostel of the University are complete; providing testimony in brick and mortar, to your pre-eminent quality of philanthropy. Pakistan is, indeed, fortunate in having been blessed with a University of such a high calibre. On behalf of the Government and the people of Pakistan, and on my own behalf, I would like to express our profound gratitude to your Highness.
...I have been here a number of times and I was really thinking of what my true feelings are at this time and mind you, I am not being modest, I am being very frank, my contribution is very little, it is only the magnanimity of His Highness that has exploded my contribution to such an extent. But being a witness to the growth of this complex, I was just wondering as to what my true feelings are today. Many of us sitting here today are fathers and mothers and many of us have seen our children grow but very few really think that the man who stands before you today as perhaps a doctor, an engineer, a banker once was a little child incapable of walking, incapable of thinking for himself and then when you look back many years you find that it is the effort and the love and affection that reared up that child to grow where he is today. I am talking about a life span of man. Here is a life span of a complex.
I came here a few years ago and I saw a deserted piece of ground. I came the next time I saw a bit of life, I came the next time and we gave the Charter to the University. It is only in a matter of two years we see here, not a child but a child that is certainly mine, no doubt, but is the child of His Highness, which has been reared upon the last few years with such love and affection by himself, the Begum who accompanied him all the time, by His Highness Amyn Aga Khan and by a team of such dedicated workers as Mr. Merchant who is sitting very quietly down below, Mr. Shamsh Lakha, Mr. Ashiqueali and many others who will perhaps continue to remain the back stage workers without whose efforts this complex would not have come up, and just taking a lead from Mr. Shamsh Lakha's words, the torch has been lit and we are all to witness the light that will emerge from this great institution of learning, I hope, Inshallah.
These magnificent buildings of the Aga Khan University Complex also bear testimony to your Highness's outstanding contribution towards the enhancement of Islamic Architecture, by blending contemporary technology with the grace and beauty of conventional style. Such excellence, if I may add, can only be achieved by a team that is privileged to work under the guidance and inspiration of your Highness.
Judged by any standards, however exacting, the Aga Khan University is an exemplary institution. The criterion adopted for admission to this University offers the guarantee that the principle of equity will be safeguarded without sacrificing excellence. The provision in the University Charter for attracting scholars, particularly Pakistani scholars from abroad, is something that needs to be extended by the Pakistani authorities to other universities in the country as well.
Here, I would like to make a reference to another exemplary feature of the Aga Khan University; and this is the positive and constructive attitude that is inculcated among its students. As a result, the atmosphere of the University is entirely academic and free from incidence of in discipline and political manipulation which has been the main cause of deterioration of academic standards in many of our educational institutions in Pakistan today. The sanctity of the academic environment in the Aga Khan University has, no doubt, been maintained through the single minded commitment to the cause of education and education alone.
The establishment of the Aga Khan University complex, with facilities for research and medical education and treatment, is indeed in accord with the spirit of Islam. As we all know, Islam gives top priority to the acquisition of knowledge, and regards the care of the sick as one of the foremost duties of man. Your Highness has thus demonstrated how to keep one's covenant with Islamic teachings, and I am sure Allah will, doubtless, bless you for it Inshallah.
Pakistan owes an immense debt of gratitude to your Highness for your generous assistance in supplementing the efforts of the Government, through the Aga Khan Foundation in improving the quality of life of our people, particularly in the health sector.
Your Highness, we perceive in the various on-going projects, launched by your Highness in Pakistan, a continuation of the noble mission initiated by your forefathers. Aga Khan University is one of such projects and I am confident that it will play a vital role in its own right.
Here I would also like to express my personal gratitude once again for such a fine institution. We are living in a material world and if we just look at the amount of investment $400 million worth of a project devoted purely for the sake of education and care for the sick. Where in the metropolis of Karachi is a gift that can be befitting to any nation, to any city, to any people?
Permit me your Highness to express my personal gratitude to your Highness for the creation of endowments in the name of Begum Shafiqa Zia. These endowments will be used to provide Scholarships for students in the Faculty of Health Sciences in the Aga Khan University, and for the creation of a fund to support the cost of medical care of the needy and the deserving patients at the Aga Khan University Hospital.
I pray to Allah that both these institutions, the Aga Khan University and the Aga Khan University Hospital may achieve greatness in the fullness of time; and may Allah in his benevolence bestow his grace on the generation of students to complete their training with distinction and use their knowledge in the service of mankind; and also provide courage, strength and wisdom to the hospital staff to enable them to face the challenges that lie ahead; and thereby justify the confidence that your Highness and the Government of Pakistan have reposed in these two great institutions.
My statement will not be complete if I did not reciprocate. This entire gift of $400 million is from His Highness, the Government of Pakistan's contribution is whatever it is, my own personal interest is what I have stated a little while ago. In the same spirit I would like to offer to the Aga Khan Medical College, two Scholarships a year for those graduates who qualify at the top positions at the Aga Khan Medical University and who complete their preliminary specialisation in Pakistan. This will be done through a scholarship and your Highness, I have not asked your permission but I am sure you will be kind enough that this scholarship will be called Salima Aga Khan scholarship.
We have been talking about the Universities of Cambridge, Oxford, McGill, Osborne, Munich and the like. I pray to Allah that the Aga Khan University not only be remembered in line with some of those modern and the most talented and the most reputed educational institutions but it will also be headed by the Aga Khan University.
I, once again, thank your Highness for your love and care for Pakistan, and for your devotion to the cause of improving the quality of life of its people. May Allah endow you with long life, health and happiness. Ameen!
With these words, I have great pleasure in inaugurating the new building of the Aga Khan University Hospital.
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