Dr Suraya Dalil

Acting Minister of Public Health
Islamic Republic of Afghanistan

Ambassador Saidullah Khan Dehlavi, Chairman of the Board of Trustees
Members of the Board of Trustees
Mr Firoz Rasul, President of the Aga Khan University
Distinguished Guests
Members of the Faculty
Graduands

Ladies and Gentleman

Thank you, President Rasul, for inviting me to address the Convocation. It is indeed an honour and a privilege to be at the Aga Khan University’s Karachi campus to be part of the event celebrating the graduation of the Class of 2011.

To the graduands, let me first congratulate you, your families and your distinguished faculty. Your accomplishments should be a source of pride not only to you, but also to your University and indeed your country. The spirit that has inspired your achievements illustrates your dynamism, vitality and enthusiasm; we are inspired by your successes. We join you in celebrating this achievement and the promise of what is to come. Personally, as I recall my own graduation, I see in you today the same joy, pride and a sense of accomplishment that I felt.

I hope that you will allow me a moment of national pride as I note that there are six Afghan graduands at today’s Convocation: two graduating with their Master of Education degree and four graduating with their Bachelor of Science in Nursing degree. And, if you will bear with me for just one moment longer, I would like to proudly acknowledge that AKU boasts 32 Afghan alumni: six Diplomas in Nursing; 12 Bachelors of Science in Nursing; one Master of Science in Nursing; three Masters of Education; and 10 Masters of Science degrees. These alumni hold important and strategic positions in the fields of medicine, education and nursing and we look to them to bring improvements to people’s lives.

At today’s Convocation, we must pay tribute to the University’s Chancellor, His Highness the Aga Khan for his inspiring leadership, his strategic vision and his commitment to humanity. The Aga Khan Development Network’s contributions, not only in Pakistan and Afghanistan but also the many other countries in the developing world, provide opportunities for all of us to improve the quality of life of our fellow human beings.

Just last month His Highness the Aga Khan visited Afghanistan and met with President Karzai to reaffirm the continued cooperation of the Aga Khan Development Network with Afghanistan, and particularly in the areas of health, education, culture, infrastructure and potable water provision, among others. His Highness stressed that assistance in the reconstruction of Afghanistan has an important place in the Development Network’s programmes which remain committed to accelerating the socio-economic development process in the country to bring a tangible improvement in the quality of people’s daily existence. His Highness has also asked the Aga Khan University to play an important role in improving quality of healthcare and health sciences education in Afghanistan through its involvement in the French Medical Institute for Children, the Ghazanfar Institutes of Health Sciences, Kabul Medical University and soon the Jumhoriat Hospital. Given Afghanistan’s geography and the work we are doing together, we should examine the value of cross border synergies in healthcare.

In the countries where The Aga Khan University operates, it has enabled its students and alumni to soar to academic heights, setting the highest standards of professional excellence, which are internationally recognized and nationally prized. As a health professional, I very much understand and appreciate the value of high standards of competence that AKU is working to bring to my country.

Not only has AKU broken new ground in the delivery of health care and education, but also by combining education and health delivery it has built a synergy that has mutually reinforced both disciplines. The University’s unique merit-based admissions policy offers an admirable example of how equality of opportunity brings out the best talent and allows the unhindered development of our most precious asset: human capital. Its transparent systems and practices have contributed to AKU’s attainment of the highest standards of education and international best practices.

Let me say to the Class of 2011, as you receive your degree or diploma today, your lifetime of learning has only just begun. You have acquired a precious gift from this institution, but the challenge begins now as you enter professional life and the wider world. Your AKU education has prepared you well to embrace the challenges of the future. It is now for you to harness the education and skills you have acquired and summon the knowledge you have acquired to make this world a better, more humane, more tolerant and just place.

I am grateful to the Government of Pakistan for the kind courtesies and privileges accorded to me during my visit. I would also like to acknowledge and appreciate the Government’s support to make possible AKU's work in Afghanistan and to supporting Afghan students with visas to study in Pakistan. The successful collaboration between the Aga Khan University in Pakistan and the Ministry of Public Health in Afghanistan is a clear example of how the two countries can work together.

Thank you to the Aga Khan University for letting me share with you this very special moment in your lives.

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