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Speech for the Convocation Mr Firoz Rasul President Aga by badboyben


									 Speech for the 2007 Convocation 

Mr. Firoz Rasul 
President, Aga Khan University 

Karachi, Pakistan.  November 17, 2007 

Honourable Chief Guest, Dr. Shamshad Akhtar, Governor of the State
Bank of Pakistan
Chairman Saidullah Khan Dehlavi and members of the Aga Khan
University Board of Trustees
Graduates and parents
Members of the faculty
Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen


I am honoured to address the 20th Convocation of the Aga Khan
University, and to offer a warm welcome to our Chief Guest, Dr.
Shamshad Akhtar. You are a role model, Dr Akhtar. Your contributions
to financial sectors both in Pakistan and abroad have been recognised as
outstanding, not only at the State Bank, but also at the Asian
Development Bank and the World Bank. We are delighted to have you
grace this happy occasion.

Graduands, you may not realise but today you walk in a proud tradition
which stretches back more than a thousand years to Al-Azhar University
in Cairo, which was founded by the ancestors of our Chancellor, His
Highness the Aga Khan. This year marks the Golden Jubilee of His
Highness as the 49th hereditary Imam of the Shia Ismaili Muslim
Community; 50 years of leadership in the development of human
capacity through the institutions of the Aga Khan Development
Network, including this university. We celebrate this auspicious
occasion and the contributions of our founder.

The degree you will receive today is more than just a piece of paper. It is
a symbol of your hard work and passion; a symbol of the pride and
support you received from your families and friends; and a symbol of
your accomplishments. It is a statement of your capacity and capability.
But it is also a covenant between you and this university, a permanent
link that invites you home whenever you please.

But remember that this education belongs not only to you. It belongs
also to those who have sacrificed for you and supported you without
hesitation. Look around at your loved ones, your faculty, and the
committed donors to this University. Be sure to thank them for their
patience and trust. Most importantly, we should remember that it is the
generosity and vision of our Chancellor that has enabled you to receive
the education you proudly leave with today.

I hope that as you look back on your time here, you will remember with
fondness the fun, the apprehension, the exhilaration, the challenges, the
satisfaction and the sense of accomplishment that you experienced.
Conferences took you to Cairo, and your social work provided the
opportunity to venture into the mountains of Pakistan. I’m sure that the
nurses will miss the fun of vaccination days; the students from IED will
miss their cultural evenings; and the MBBS graduates will miss winning
the Class Trophy in sports. You have won it three times; I think now it’s
time for another class to have a chance!

But most importantly, graduates, I hope that you will remember with
fondness all that you have learned here. Great knowledge comes with
great responsibility, as is the tradition that goes back to the time of our
Beloved Prophet (PBUH). The very first revelation told our Holy
Prophet to “read,” and the Qur’an teems with verses inviting man to use
his intellect – and share his knowledge. This tradition is exemplified in
Muslim histories as well; old libraries of Cordoba and Baghdad each
held over 400,000 volumes as rulers strove to impart knowledge to their
societies, and where intellectuals were held in the highest esteem.

As in those societies, your education will grant you certain privileges
and power in the contemporary knowledge society. Treat this status with
humility and respect. The leadership that you provide must be
exemplary, and so continue to live within the deepest traditions of this
university. Act only in kindness, modesty, and generosity; be truthful
and forgiving; and strive for excellence in all of your activities. Fight
injustice, intolerance, and inequity. But above all, continue to learn.
Your education does not end today; your learning must be life long. Do
not become passive or complacent, or you will slide into mediocrity.
Seek – aggressively, passionately, and untiringly – to gain new wisdom
and to create new knowledge.

New knowledge comes from change. Throughout history, it has been
those who were open and willing to change that have succeeded. The
Golden Ages of Islam came about not when we sought answers in the
past, but when we developed the frameworks in which to ask questions
of the future. More recently, one need look only at the progress Japan
and Germany have made, from their economic and military collapse at
the end of the second World War to become among the wealthiest, most
advanced nations in the world.

Today’s world is no different; except that change is happening at an
accelerating rate. In the 1970s, in the United States, the telephone
company AT&T developed the technology for mobile telephones. They
decided, however, that there was no future in mobile phones, and so did
not invest in this technology. Instead, the company focused on land-
lines. They paid dearly for this mistake. Today, emerging countries are
going straight to mobile telephony, by-passing land lines entirely.

Moreover, the libraries of great global universities are no longer the
domain of privileged scholars – Google has begun a project to digitise
the libraries of universities such as Harvard and Stanford. This means
that a young girl sitting in Chitral in the North West Frontier Province
with an internet connection will have the same access to information as
anyone else in the world. In the past, it was access to information which
helped to determine success. Now access is no longer the constraint; it
is about how to manage knowledge; how to search for knowledge; and
how, using the ethics of your faith and your culture, to separate
knowledge from what is simply bad information. Change comes through

To be a leader you must be comfortable with initiating and responding to
change. New technologies and globalisation create meritocratic cultures
where status and success can no longer be bought or inherited, but must
be earned. To succeed in this changing world, we must constantly strive
for higher performance, higher standards, higher competencies and
higher ethics.

AKU is also changing. Based on the vision of our Chancellor and the
strategic direction set by our Board of Trustees, our programmes are
expanding to reach more students in more countries, and create a truly
international university.

This summer, His Highness the Aga Khan announced the founding of a
new Faculty of Arts and Sciences in Arusha, Tanzania along with a
second Faculty of Health Sciences in Nairobi, Kenya. This comes on the
heels of the establishment of a Faculty of Arts and Sciences campus here
in Pakistan, the Institute for the Study of Muslim Civilisations in
London, and another the Institute for Educational Development in Dar-
es-Salaam. We also continue to provide technical assistance in
Afghanistan in nursing and to the French Medical Institute for Children
in Kabul as well as for nursing education programmes in Syria and

These goals are ambitious. They are bold and they are brave, but they
are ambitious. For us to achieve excellence, we as a university need to
respond to change with thought, rigor and sophistication. In the words
of His Highness the Aga Khan, “In an era of breath-taking change and
bewildering complexity, we choose not to pull back or to settle down,
but instead to reach out and push forward. The path we have chosen is
not easy to chart – and it is certainly not risk free. But it is both a
necessary and an exciting road – filled with the promise of high

Today, you also embark on a road filled with the promise of high
adventure. Be agents of change first within yourselves, but also within
the institutions and societies in which you live. But also remember that
not everything is meant to change. Hold fast to your traditions, your
ethics, and your values. Continue to be generous, continue to be kind,
and continue to practice excellence in your work. Graduands, I am well
aware that today I have placed on the shoulders of each one of you
significant responsibility. I challenge you to not merely accept these
expectations, but to exceed them.

We are all gathered here with full confidence in the Class of 2007, and I
hope that you will never let anyone limit your potential for greatness.

Thank you.


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