Address by Chief Guest
Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah
His Highness the Aga Khan
Princess Zahra Aga Khan
Chairman Zakir Mahmood and Members of the Board of Trustees
President Sulaiman Shahabuddin
Members of the Class of 2022
Family members of the graduates
Distinguished guests present here and joining us from Kenya, Dar es Salaam, London, Afghanistan and hundreds and thousands of those joining us online,
Ladies and gentlemen, Assalam alaikum and a very good afternoon.
It is indeed a great honour and pleasure to join you in celebrating this joyful occasion. Let me open by offering my heartiest felicitations to the graduates who we are honoring today. You have worked very hard to reach this special moment. I would also like to congratulate the parents and families of the graduates – you have provided invaluable support to your graduates and this day is also dedicated to you. Graduates, the degree that you have earned at the prestigious Aga Khan University will serve you well as you launch your careers.
AKU's founder and Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan, said and I quote: "At its best, the University is linked to the welfare of the society in which it is based."
This statement rings true now, more than ever. Because AKU is contributing in countless ways to the welfare of this province and this country. Indeed, the University has for many years been contributing to the welfare of people far beyond our borders.
AKU has been a trusted partner of the Government of Sindh for decades. But in recent years, it has proven its value like never before.
At the beginning of the pandemic, when Pakistan was recording its first cases of the virus, there were so many unknowns. There were so many questions in need of answers. At that difficult time, the expertise of AKU was invaluable. And it was so willing to share its knowledge. I had formed a Corona Task Force at the provincial level and a professor from the Aga Khan University was integral to this team. For his services, he was conferred Tamgha-e-Imtiaz by the Government. AKU’s commitment to the cause was evident as even in the middle of the night, there was always someone from the University available to assist us. And to this date, whenever I hear anybody has got COVID, the first institution and the first people I call are people from the AKU.
As the count rose, and it became clear we needed to provide additional training to our doctors and nurses in caring for the seriously ill COVID patients, we turned to AKU. With great enthusiasm, your faculty trained thousands of our public-sector health professionals. The University also set up a hotline so that ICU doctors at public hospitals could get advice on caring for COVID patients, 24/7.
Throughout the pandemic, we relied on AKU for data on the spread of the virus and the arrivals of new strains. In short, it helped to shape the public response to COVID-19.
Then came last year's floods – the worst in our history. The devastation was unlike anything Pakistan had ever seen.
AKU rose to the challenge once again, alongside government and numerous other private-sector institutions. The University rushed to establish health camps in affected communities across Sindh and other provinces. It cared for hundreds of thousands of people.
I am glad to be able to take this opportunity to thank the members of the AKU community who came to the aid of their fellow citizens in their hour of need, whether as volunteers or as donors. The fact that so many AKU students participated in the University's flood response speaks highly of them and of the education they have received here.
I could recount many more examples of AKU addressing important health and education issues in partnership with the public sector – from increasing access to vaccination in underserved areas of Karachi, to training teachers in rural Sindh. This is not an institution that exists for one group or sector of society. It is working for the benefit of Sindh and for Pakistan as a whole.
I can go on talking about AKU and what it has achieved in the last 40 years and we’ll be sitting here till morning if I do that. I will turn to the graduates who are the graduating class of 2022. My dear graduates of the class of 2022, you are fortunate to have been part of an institution whose contribution to education and healthcare is truly recognized. Keep this in mind, that as you move forward in your careers, as you continue into your house-jobs, your residencies and even into academia, you will find that your years spent at AKU have prepared you not just for your immediate steps but will be the foundation that you look back on proudly for the years to come. You will find that your professors are not only your mentors during medical school but you will continue to learn from them and seek their advice later in your lives. And I hope you find that the friends that you’ve made here in the past few years will serve as your support system as you venture into the next stage of your careers.
Today, take a minute to remember your accomplishments and your time at AKU. These are days, which you will look back on with great fondness.
To the parents and relatives of the class of 2022, thank you for remaining steadfast in your support and unwavering in your commitment to ensure that your loved ones could receive the quality education that AKU has to offer. Indeed, this is a proud day for you too.
The Government of Sindh looks forward to continuing to work closely with the Aga Khan University to bring outstanding health care and education to the people of Sindh and Pakistan. I look forward to seeing its graduates continue to demonstrate the power of an AKU education, and the extraordinary talent of our youth.
I thank His Highness the Aga Khan for his deep faith in Pakistan, and his enduring commitment to its people. I congratulate the University on its 40th anniversary. And I wish it all the best in the decades to come.
Once again congratulations, Class of 2022.