Check against delivery. (This is not from tape).
It is indeed a privilege to be invited to participate in the 1996 Convocation of the Aga Khan University. A little more than a decade ago, this great city, the capital of the Province of Sindh, bore witness of the presentation of the Charter of the Aga Khan University. Today this University is a symbol that the World of Islam can compete in medical education with the best. It is a tribute to the dynamism of his Highness Prince Karim Aga Khan who blends thought with action and matches words with achievements. This flower of our youth whose first blush appears on the dawn of the Golden Jubilee of Pakistan and whose aroma will bloom Inshallah until the first century of Pakistan is the most precious gift. Our nation, like the waters of the river Indus, both changing and yet eternal, one generation after another flowing into the future. For all this I must pay tribute to the vision and the foresight of its Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, whose vital leadership and faith in education has propelled this institution to arrive at milestones, within its short existence, that should normally take decades to reach. This institution will be a symbol of the Muslim Renaissance and history will record that His Highness The Aga Khan was one of the leaders of the inevitable metamorphosis which will brings us Inshallah at par with the West.
Inspired by the Chancellor's vision are the many people who have served and struggled to translate that vision into reality. These are the people who will take the University towards further and newer horizons tomorrow. To them - my dear friend Dr. Shams Kassim Lakha, the Board of Trustees, senior management, the faculty, the staff, the students and all involved, I offer my felicitations and the acknowledgement that their endeavour have resulted in creating a centre of excellence in the field of medical education.
The Aga Khan University is recognised as an institution which respects objectivity and fairness, up holding ability as the ultimate criteria in the pursuit of educational advancement.
This city has lived through a turbulent decade and has seen much strife and uncertainty. Through all the difficult times, the personnel of the University, whether faculty or staff, showed their commitment to those they serve by regularly attending their duties, despite many inconveniences and dangers. This is indeed commendable. It is the kind of steadfast faith and sense of duty that makes nations strong.
It is most heartening the Aga Khan University does not rest on its laurels, the pioneers of this academic centre are looking at its development as far forward as the next quarter of a century. The recently published Report of the Chancellor's Commission, which I read with much interest, is a testimony to this foresight. It is a very exciting road-map for the growth of the Aga Khan University and its future directions over the next 20 to 30 years. The document recommends Aga Khan University's development into a broader international institution of distinction and integrity, dedicated to respond to the problems of the Developing and Muslim Worlds in a fresh and original way - seeking to venture into new academic disciplines and to bring forth graduates of intellectual breadth and quality, who will face and meet the challenges of change in the fast moving world. The prudent wisdom of such planning has persuaded me to encourage other Universities in Sindh to also project their future academic evolution and to develop specific goals on a more long - term and focused basis.
I am particulary impressed by the partnership between your School of Nursing and the McMaster University in Canada for their long-standing aims to uplift the status of the nursing profession in Pakistan. This linkage, with generous funding by the Canadian International Development Agency, is now training Nurses and Lady Health Visitors in Pakistan's government health service through a program called Development of Women Health Professionals. This program enables the women of Pakistan to make a valuable contribution to health care policies and the advancement of the country, while creating equitable access to employment opportunities for women. It is indeed a lesson of modern history that no nation can advance without the endowment of educated women participating in economic development; a lesson that we can only ignore at our peril. Indeed I would venture to predict that whether we sink or swim in the turbulent waters of the 21 st century depends upon education of the children of today; generation of educated women hold the key to our future.
The Aga Khan University is fully cognisant that Human Development is the hinge of fate. The involvement of the Institute for Educational Development as part of the Aga Khan Development Network with educational programs in the region and the diverse regional and international enrolment in degree programs attests towards the deep commitment of His Highness the Aga Khan to Human Development. I am happy to note that the Institute trains teachers from government schools in this very city, whose access to specialised training programs in limited. I hope in turn these teachers from less privileged systems will fully utilise the opportunity and training that the IED provides them, to bring about educational reform.
These partnerships with government institutions by your University in the fields of education and health, I am confident, will show the way to planners in Pakistan and other developing countries to tap the strengths of both sectors and blend them for collective public betterment. The University's humanistic concerns are also reflected in the Hospital's Patient Welfare Program, which ensures access to medical services by people from all walks of life. I am gratified to know that welfare assistance of Rs. 85 million is made available to nearly 15,000 needy patients annually, not only from Karachi but from all over Pakistan, including remote rural areas.
Your Highness, ladies and gentlemen, I am particularly reassured to learn of a number of recent new projects on this Campus funded by donors. The investment in these new buildings and programs is a demonstration of the Aga Khan Development network's confidence in Pakistan. They will broaden Aga Khan University's outreach and its ability to contribute to national development through quality service and academic programs of depth and substance.
Support of this nature from donors in Pakistan and abroad, in times of economic difficulties and constraints, reflects a deep and unwavering confidence in the future of the Aga Khan University. This confidence is deep-rooted in the short but distinguished history of the Institution. It is difficult to predict what tomorrow may bring. However, if past achievements are a measure of an institution's future direction and growth, then the Aga Khan University, I am certain, will continue to be relevant to this country's development, amply justifying the confidence that its supporters and donors repose in it.
In the end, I want to single out the young men and women who graduate today. You have been fortunate to be part of an institution with such a commitment to excellence. Your University has not only bestowed the best possible professional training on you, it has strived to tap the leadership potential and talent that lies latent within you. You carry enlightenment that comes from an education of uncompromising standards. As you leave today with your hard earned degrees, carry with you the hope that this institution reposes in each one of you - that you will be the pioneers of a broader change, that you will be firm and honest in all your undertakings, and that you will uphold the highest standard of professional integrity. I wish you good luck and pray that you will, in addition to pursuing your professions with high standards of professional competence, discharge your future responsibilities with honour and dignity. You are the torch bears of a new generation, born free, tempered in adversity, confident of your abilities, who carry the burden of moving the country forward into the ranks of the advance nations in the 21 st century. It is not an easy task; the road winds uphill and the way; but with courage and faith; I am sure you will reach the peak.
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