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Charge d’ Affaires Dr. Asad Majeed Khan’s Speech at Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Conference

Charge d’ Affaires Dr. Asad Majeed Khan’s Speech at Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Conference

Mr. Navin Valliappan

Chairman, Rotary Youth Leadership Awards Conference in North America

Members of Rotaract

Friends,

It gives me immense pleasure to welcome the Rotaracts all to the Embassy today.

We at the Embassy are especially focused on reaching out to the youth. This is also the focus of our recently launched Generation Next Initiative.

Under this initiative we are making efforts to create awareness among the American and Pakistani-American youth about the real Pakistan.

We just concluded a two week course on “Understanding Pakistan” at the Embassy covering Pakistan’s history, geography, civil society, culture and foreign policy.

Your visit today is indeed very timely as it fits in our scheme of priorities very well. We are grateful to the Rotary Youth Leadership Awards for including the Embassy of Pakistan in this year’s International Character Building program.

Ladies and gentlemen,

For decades now, Rotary International has distinguished itself in providing philanthropy based community service all across the world.

We are happy to see Rotary’s decades old partnership with Pakistan becoming ever more stronger, with Rotary represented in all major urban centers of Pakistan with only Rotaract clubs numbering 63.

Rotary members in Pakistan are providing excellent community services in supplementing the government efforts to provide education, health and sanitation services and in eradicating polio.

Ladies and gentlemen,

Philanthropy, charity and community service are fundamental characteristics of Pakistani society.

According to the World Giving Index 2012 prepared by the Charities Aid Foundation, Pakistanis rank among the top 10 nations when it comes to helping a stranger.

The selfless hospitality extended to millions of Afghan refugees over the last four decades and great examples of philanthropy and community service witnessed during the successive disasters that struck Pakistan in 2005, 2010 and 2011 are good indicators of our commitment to help those in distress.

It is, therefore, no surprise that one of the largest philanthropy based ambulance services in the world is being operated in Pakistan by the legendary Abdul Sattar Eidhi and the operations are based entirely on donations from ordinary Pakistanis.

Pakistan thus provides an environment ripe for the kind of activities Rotary is focused on and we are happy to see this partnership strengthening.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In addition to philanthropy and community service, there are many more aspects of Pakistan and the Pakistani society that do not get much attention.

Unfortunately, the day to day media discourse on Pakistan is skewed towards portraying Pakistan as nothing more than bullets, bombs and terrorism.

But the very fact that Pakistanis are one of the biggest charity giving nation in the world runs contrary to this depiction.

It is therefore important to make an effort to see beyond the headlines and try to understand the real Pakistan.

Later today, we will be screening a documentary on Pakistan followed by few clips capturing the achievements of some of the most outstanding Pakistani youth.

The purpose is to provide you a glimpse of what Pakistan has to offer and hopefully stimulate enough curiosity in your minds and motivate you to dig deeper and learn more about Pakistan.

I just want to share some important facts about Pakistan with you.

Situated on the cusp of South-Central and West Asia, Pakistan with 190 million people, is the sixth most populous nation and one of the largest democracies in the world today.

At a time when most countries confront the worrisome prospect of an aging population, Pakistan faces no such challenge. Nearly two thirds of our population is under the age of thirty.

Pakistan is the most urbanized country in South Asia and we have the 4th largest middle class in Asia.

Pakistan is the 9th largest English speaking country in the World.
Despite all the challenges, Pakistan’s economy is rated among the top 30 countries in terms of GDP on Purchasing Power Parity basis.

We are amongst the top ten producers of cotton, sugar, milk, wheat and home to one of the largest coal reserves in the world.

Today’s Pakistan is undergoing an IT and social media revolution.

With 32 million internet users, 2 million broadband subscribers, 7 million Facebook users, 1 million Twitter accounts, 1.2 million Linked In users, Pakistan is already being seen as the next big market in Asia by Google.

This unprecedented growth in social media has reinforced the impact of an independent judiciary, robust and vibrant civil society and arguably the most free and vibrant media in the Muslim world with more than 30 news channels on the social and political change that we are witnessing today in Pakistan.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In Pakistan, only recently we witnessed a smooth democratic transition of power from one civil government to another. This underscores our commitment to the democratic process.

By coming out to vote in record numbers in transparent, fair and widely observed elections on May 11, the people of Pakistan have rejected extremism, embraced democracy, development and good governance.

Achieving greater prosperity and security for the people of Pakistan is the new government’s top priority. The Government is determined to realize this by instituting more transparency, ensuring due process, overcoming energy crisis undertaking economic reforms and by providing efficient pathways for foreign investment.

Focusing on improving relations with our neighbors and facilitating regional trade is another key priority of the new Government that we believe would lead to fostering peace, prosperity and economic growth in the region.

Of course our relationship with the U.S. is one of the most important bilateral relationships for us. We have partnered with the U.S. in combating terrorism and extremism and in the process have suffered immensely.

But our resolve is not shaken and we are determined to win this struggle.

After a difficult few years, the Pakistan-U.S. relationship is on an upward trajectory again.

We are now focusing on broadening the areas of cooperation to include trade, energy, education, science and technology and people to people contacts to name a few.

Ladies and gentlemen,

In conclusion, I would like to say that while making every effort to bring more prosperity and development to the people of Pakistan, we are also aware of the challenges ahead.

Let me thank you once again for visiting the Embassy today. Let us now enjoy the documentary on Pakistan. I will be available to answer your questions, if there are any, after the documentary.

July 05, 2013
Washington

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