Mian Manzoor Ahmad Watto
Federal Minister for Kashmir Affairs and Gilgit-Baltistan
Sardar Muhammad Yaqoob Khan,
President of Azad Jammu and Kashmir
Chaudhary Abdul Majeed,
Prime Minister of Azad Jammu and Kashmir
Prof. Engr. Naib Hussain Chaudhary
Vice Chancellor of Mirpur University of Science and Technology
Ministers, Advisors, MLAs, Members of Kashmir Council
Faculty Members, Dear Students,
Ladies and gentlemen!
It is a matter of great pleasure for me to perform the foundation-stone laying of mega project of Mirpur University of Science and Technology. My every visit to Azad Jammu and Kashmir gives me a sense of satisfaction and revives the deep-rooted emotional and spiritual bond between the people of Pakistan and Azad Jammu and Kashmir. At the same time, it also provides me with an opportunity to witness the people’s unwavering determination and resolute will to build back better after the devastating earthquake and floods that hit the whole of AJ and K a few years ago.
Ever since coming into power, the development of AJ and K and service to its people has been on the top of the democratic government’s agenda. I have always taken personal interest to make sure that rehabilitation of the earthquake and flood-hit areas does not get affected and necessary resources continue to be released for the completion of rehabilitation projects.
I am glad to inform you that majority of portfolio projects have been completed, while others are at various stages of completion. All along, it has been my endeavour to focus on the reconstruction of educational and health facilities, which were badly damaged by the earthquake and devastating floods.
Our passion determination to work for the welfare of the Kashmiris demonstrates that Pakistan and AJ and K share deep historical, geographical, cultural and religious bonds. The love for the people of AJ and K runs through the blood of every Pakistani. The lesson of deep emotional and spiritual association with the people of Kashmir imparted to us by the Quaid-e-Azam, Quaid-e-Awam and Shaheed Mohtrama Benazir Bhutto is etched deeply in our collective memory.
Our succeeding generations would remain steadfast to this relationship of love and brotherhood. You may be aware that Pakistan People’s Party was founded on the issue of Kashmir and I want to assure the Kashmiris that the government of PPP will keep their welfare close to its heart.
Ladies and Gentlemen
The world we are living in is changing at a fast pace. The globalization has paved the way for new rules of the game, which would define the global economic and political structure. These changes have significant bearings for the entire world including Pakistan. We need fresh energy, dynamism and innovation to think out of box and find a place for ourselves in this vibrant global order. We have to decide whether we become hesitant and allow the global imperatives to overtake us or become proactive and take on the challenges head-on with a win-win mindset with never-to-lose mindset.
I am sure that we possess the vision and capability to take the second course of action, because inaction cannot be an option any more. This calls for focusing inward and strengthening ourselves domestically. Internal strength always comes from the institutions. All along these four years, the present democratic government has worked for the empowerment of the institutions.
Ladies and gentlemen!
You will agree with me that the wellbeing of any nation depends largely on the quality of education it imparts to its youth. Mind you we are living in a knowledge-driven era and only those nations can compete in today’s hi-tech world, which focus their attention on acquiring knowledge, promoting research and fostering innovation, because knowledge has become an engine of socio-economic development in the contemporary world. I recall a quote of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah: The great Quaid said and I quote:
“You must concentrate on gaining knowledge and education. It is your foremost responsibility. Political awareness of the era is also part of your education. You must be aware of international events and environment. Education is a matter of life and death for our country.” Unquote
This can be possible if we depart from traditional and generalized education and promote education of science, engineering and technology. Linking educational institutions to the needs of industry must become an important component in our efforts to make education productive and a vehicle for socio-economic development of the country.
The memories of devastation caused by the earthquake and floods must be vivid in your minds. AJ and K, which was already struggling with the aftermath of earthquake, had to suffer from the floods. These natural catastrophes washed away thousands of houses, livestock and caused a cumulative loss of billions of dollars to the infrastructure. It is in this context that the engineers have key role to play in the reconstruction and rehabilitation of the areas hit by natural disasters.
Ladies and gentlemen!
The government looks at the scientists, engineers and technologists as ‘collaborators and partners in development’ and looks forward to sustained engagement to undertake the task of rehabilitation and reconstruction. The role of science and technology is critical to address the issues of environment, shelter, infrastructure development, communication, preservation of water resources, sanitation, transportation, power production and better health facilities.
I want to remind the aspiring scientists of the challenges that lie ahead of them. They must be aware of local, regional and global contexts within which they would be required to make informed and intelligent decisions. They must keep the development needs of their country in view and become a facilitator in this regard.
Therefore, I would urge the students to awaken a spirit of critical inquiry. Be alive to social, economic and political challenges within which you will be operating. Internalize the spirit and passion for community service and focus on innovation and the idea of ‘learning by doing concept’.
I have my full faith in the ability of our youth and students to rise to the occasion. Young girls like late Irfa Karim, Malala Yousafzai and many others have shown the way. Our students need to build up on it.
I thank you all!
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