Office of the Press Secretary
Thank you very much. Administrators and faculty, students, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen, and my many gracious hosts here in Pakistan.
It is with an great sense of honor that I join you today. I would especially like to thank Prime Minister Bhutto and all the people of this wonderful country for her and your generous hospitality. I know that all Americans share my desire to extend the same warm welcome to the Prime Minister when she visits us in Washington next month.
Let me also say that, saddened as we all are by the violence afflicting your people in Karachi and the tragic deaths of our two American diplomats there recently, on behalf of all Americans, I join your Prime Minister in condemning violence and terrorism across the globe where ever it occurs.
I have come to Pakistan to continue the long standing friendship between our countries and to deepen the dialogue between our citizens. I have come to learn not only about policies and programs, but about people. The men, women, children and families in Islamabad, Lahore and throughout Pakistan and other countries in this region have much to teach me and my country. For that reason, I find it particularly fitting that my journey has brought me to Lahore, celebrated for it's history as a center of education and scholarship.
Since the birth of this institution a decade ago, Americans have been proud to be associated with Lahore University of Management Sciences. We are glad that we had a chance to contribute aid to help in the building of this university. We believe that it is a good investment for America as well as for your country. And to care for the continuous exchange of faculty and students. Your university here has worked because government, corporations, philanthropic organizations, business leaders like the Co-Chancellor and private organizations from both of our countries believe in the potential of the next generation. Not just to acquire the skills needed to run businesses, but to gain the wisdom and experience to help guide your country and indeed both of our communities to the new challenges posed by these often confusing times.
LUMS is not only teaching its students the science of business and management, but also the art of building communities. The world needs business leadership now that understands how strong communities are critical to the long term functioning of markets and sustainable development. Such leadership has always been important, but never more than today.
We are at the dawn of a century that promises new opportunities but also threatens greater competition for scarce resources in the midst of civil and ethnic strife, fueled by the lethal combination of ancient hatred and economic degradation.
Today I would like to talk to you about this world of change we share, and the importance of investing in people like yourselves at this university, and especially the importance of investing in women to help shape that change to the mutual benefit of all our people. For as the poet Allama wrote,
"To remain static is not allowed by the law of nature. The only permanent value in life is change."
This moment in history holds great possibility, opportunity, excitement and growth-- and yet if there is one constant we know from generation to generation, century to century and millennium to millennium, it is that change engenders fear. The bounds of terrorism, the ugly face of bigotry, and the ignorance that breeds intolerance rose towards those of a different ethnic or religious background are all exacerbated by the fear of change. And no nation is immune.
We are all struggling to adapt to new challenges without giving up a sense of who we are and where we belong. People are fond of saying that the world is growing small, and in many ways it is smaller, when we all have real hard access to information and ideas and each other, to the media and computers. But that experience of immediacy can also be unsettling, creating within and around us a stressful state of rapid transition, dissolution and (inaudible), over which we have little control.
A friend recently told me a story I am sure many of you know, about an old man who goes to market in a large town and is deeply troubled because he has never been among so many people before. "I cannot sleep," he said, "for if I were to awake, how would I find myself?"
One of those nearby suggests that the old man tie a string to his toe so that when he wakes up he will see the string and know who he is. The old man takes the advice and ties a string to his toe and falls into a deep sleep. While he is sleeping, the fellow who suggested the idea takes the string off of the old man's toe and ties it to the toe of a man sleeping nearby. The old man wakes up and is astonished not to find the string on his toe. When he notices it on the toe of the man next to him, he shakes him awake and says,
"It is clear from the string on your toe that you are me. Who then am I?"
Life (inaudible) man. We are all struggling to find our bearings and to find a new balance in our lives, our families and our societies. As we decide which traditions and beliefs to reject or reinforce, what changes and challenges to be embraced or discarded. We know that the answers to the best in problems facing human civilization today-- poverty, starvation, illiteracy, violence, alienation, the exploitation of the weakest and most vulnerable groups in society, are found not only in theory or formulas or fixed rules. They are also found in examples-- case studies if you will, of the human experience. Stories that both our hearts and minds and compel us to make a case for why we do what we do and how we do it.
Terms like capital and infrastructure and productivity which you use every day here at LUMS in your case studies, must also be applied when we think about the world's greatest resource-- it's people. Investing in human capital, building the human infrastructure and enhancing human productivity ought to be our collective concern.
I can't tell you how many times in my travels around my own country and overseas, I have looked into the eyes of a child and seen so much promise and hope. And then felt my heart sink, knowing that child may have little chance of fulfilling his or her promise because of the very great obstacles of limited access to education, or health services, or jobs, that you and I have.
This is not the fault of one nation or another, it is the fault of all nations. Every nation must reward their own people and especially their children. The boys and girls that represent the future of humanity, and to the extent possible, nations that can help people in other nations should do so, because enhancing the human potential anywhere in today's interconnected world enhances it everywhere.
I cannot overstate the role women must play in this global enterprise. We are noticing the unprecedented rise of women to form partnerships throughout society. In Pakistan and elsewhere we see evidence of the special gift that women can bring to families, communities, business, government. Girls and women are vital to the economic, social and political life of every country. But even though women comprise 52% of the world's population, are primary caretakers for children and the aged and are a significant presence in the work force both inside of the home and outside of the home, they continue to be marginalized and abused in many societies. We must strive for a world where women everywhere are protected and their rights are protected.
In my own country, I have seen single mothers who are raising children alone while holding down several jobs. I have seen women professionals bumping up against the glass ceiling, unable to fulfill their own potential in their professions. I have seen women around the world planting crops, plowing fields, taking goods to market, running health clinics and schools, caring for orphans and neglected children along with their own, managing businesses, dispensing justice and doing the hard work for bleeding nations. Investing in the health and education of women and girls is essential to improving global prosperity.
We have seen in parts of Asia and South America that the education of girls can help lift whole nations out of poverty. We have also seen that the education of women enhances their role as mothers and increases their participation in civic life. And in countries where governments and NGO's have made voluntary, safe and effective family planning available and have provided related health services we seen an improvement not only in the lives of individuals but in the economic well being of their countries.
If women don't thrive, the world won't thrive. Your Prime Minister understands this truth and I applaud her. I also applaud LUMS, for opening up academic and professional opportunities for women, who comprise nearly 1/3 of your students and about 1/5 of your permanent faculty-- higher ratios than you'd find in many institutions of higher learning in many parts of my country.
Both of our governments and people realize the importance of insuring that women are full participants in their societies and economies. I am pleased that my government will begin, in coming weeks, to implement an assistance program here in Pakistan to NGOs to strengthen family planning and child providal services and to expand educational opportunities for girls. We want to remain engaged with your country in addressing these key issues for your continuing development.
A few weeks ago, I met with a group of Pakistani-Americans in Washington who wanted to make a concrete contribution to promote the education of girls in this, their homeland. They have decided to endow a scholarship at the Lahore University of Management Sciences. They have secured the funding for the first year of the scholarship and are in the process of establishing an endowment to ensure that every year a woman student, whose family does not have the resources to finance an education here at LUMS, will have access to the management training and skills that Pakistan will need in the 21st century.
30 years ago, the study of business and management was relatively narrow, but today, whatever our vocations, we must take a larger view. To know about business, or law, or any other field, one must know about the world. And to know about the world, one must know about peoples' deepest yearnings and desires. And only then can one know what it is really like to live and work in a global marketplace and a global community.
As the ancient Sufi prayer says:
We who know and, do not know that we know:
Let us become one, whole.
Let us be transformed.
We who have known, but do not know:
Let us once more see
The beginning of all.
We who do not wish to know,
But still say that we want to know:
Let us be guided
To safety and light.
I have enjoyed greatly my days here in Pakistan and only wish my visit were longer. On behalf of all Americans, let me thank you here for building the strength, the partnership that our nations have enjoyed for so many years. I hope with all my heart that the many values and hopes that we share will draw us even closer together in the future as we work to move both of our countries, with confidence and strength, into the 21st Century.
Thank you for permitting me to be here with you.