16-11-2011  19:01:42

Address of Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani,Prime Minster of Pakistan,At 125th Founder’s Day of Aitchison College Lahore,(November 12, 2011)

Sardar Latif Khan Khosa,
Governor Punjab & President of Board of Governors
Federal Ministers,
Members of Parliament
Headmasters of Aitchison College,
Members of Board of Governors
Members of Aitchison Alumnae Association
Distinguished Guests,
My dear Students,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a matter of great pleasure for me to address the ceremony of 125th Founder’s Day of the world renowned Aitchison College today. I would like to congratulate the management, faculty, and the students of Aitchison College on this festive occasion. The day marks a long journey of the College starting from 3rd of November 1886 when the then Governor of Punjab Lt. General Sir Charles Umperston Aitchison founded this great seat of learning. Being the lineal descendant of the Wards School at Ambala and the Chiefs College, Aitchison College has lived up to its reputation and done a wonderful job.
Over a period of 125 years, the College has, undoubtedly, produced leaders who set up high benchmarks of success and displayed outstanding performance. Thanks to their dedication and commitment, they not only made their mark in their chosen professions but also played a leading role in contributing to community development and fostering national integration. Little wonder that today Aitchison College has come to be recognized as a model of excellence, integrity and compassion.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The world we are living in today is faced with various challenges. These challenges can not only reset our direction but also impact our future. It is a complex world defined by the forces of change and evolution. Only those individuals and nations can compete in today’s hi-tech environment that have done their homework well in advance and made knowledge the pivot of their progress and development. In today’s globalized world, knowledge has been acknowledged as an engine of growth and development. The challenges of the 21st century can be addressed adequately if our educational institutions encourage a sense of critical inquiry and a thirst for knowledge among the students. Our teaching institutions and universities must become the hub of research and creativity capable of offering fresh insights into the contemporary problems.
Staggering developments in the field of science and technology have stunned the humankind. The countries have been left with little option but to invest in the fields of education and human resource development to stay afloat in today’s world. Doing so is the only way to ensure and sustain socio-economic development. After the Chinese example, population should not be considered to be a burden anymore. Pakistan’s demographic potential is huge with 63% of its population being under 25 years of age.
What needs to be done is to harness the energies of our youth and put them into productive use through timely policy intervention and sustained political support. Establishment of linkages between our educational institutions and job markets is one way of making this happen. The promotion of industry-academia collaboration, I am sure, would go a long way in preparing future leaders endowed with necessary vision to respond to present-day challenges.
Seeking education is not merely an abstract activity aimed at getting employment. Rather, education seeks to build character of individuals and produce responsible citizenry that is aware of its rights and duties. It is an ornament which beautifies a nation and equips it with necessary capabilities to cope with the challenges of time. It helps in building up cultural ethos and preserving the national values and identity by transferring their knowledge to the next generations. I am happy to learn that Aitchison College has been playing this role commendably well. 
Ladies and Gentlemen
The passage of the 18th Constitutional Amendment has made education precisely a provincial subject. After consultation with the provincial governemnts and other relevant stakeholders, the federal government prepared a comprehensive National Educational Policy 2009. Under this Policy, it was agreed that each province shall develop its own Action Plan, which shall commit to appropriately raising allocations for education, set priorities according to provincial needs and provide implementation strategies/processes with time frame and key indicators; ensuring fulfillment of constitutional needs with respect to education and meeting the international commitments such as Education for All (EFA). The 18th amendment includes an important insertion of Article 25A making education compulsory for children. The main thrust of the policy remains on achieving the Millennium Development Goal of universal primary education by 2015. Gender equality and bridging urban-rural divide are the areas of special focus of the Policy.
Ladies and Gentlemen
For quite some time now, our great nation has been faced with perils of extremism and terrorism. While the extremist forces seek to snatch from us our values, our traditions and our identity, it must be our endeavour to foil their evil designs. As I keep saying that it is not merely a physical fight. Rather it is battle of ideas. 
In order to comprehensively eliminate extremism and terrorism, we need to defeat the idea which generates it in the first place. This is possible only when our intellectuals, educational institutions, religious scholars, academia and students come forward and play their due role. At this point, I recall the quote of Shaheed Mohtrama Benazir Bhutto wherein she said and I quote:
“An inferior idea can be killed by a superior idea only.”
It is in this context that it is incumbent upon the educational institutions such as Aitchison College to launch intellectual struggle against terrorism and extremism by inculcating the values of respect and harmony among its students.
You would agree with me that nationalism binds diverse sub-national identities into a collective whole by creating in them a feeling of oneness and unity. The nations inspired by nationalism can surmount any set of challenges. Our educational institutions have not done justice to sensitizing our youth and students to the unifying spirit of the Pakistan’s ideology. The forces of terrorism and extremism emerged in case of void created by our collective failure to take care of this important aspect.
I am reminded of a quote of Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. In a message the great Quaid issued on March 23, 1943, he said and I quote:
“I particularly appeal to our intelligentsia and students to come forward and rise to the occasion. You have performed wonders in the past. You are still capable of repeating the history. You are not lacking in the great qualities and virtues in comparison with the other nations. Only you have to be fully conscious of that fact and to act with courage, faith and unity.” Unquote
Ladies & Gentlemen
Now I want to say a few words to the students. Keep hope and optimism as your ideals. You have to keep pace with the demands of time and prepare yourself for future leadership roles. You should refuse to be cowed down by the impediments that lie in your way. Treat difficulties as challenges and have the determination to turn them into opportunities. Prepare yourself to meet the challenge of tomorrow. Make the best of your time here.
The present democratic government places greater emphasis on human resource development, innovation and entrepreneurship. We have tasked Higher Education Commission (HEC) to collaborate with the Universities and educational institutions to build a strong base for production of talented youth. The government, on its part, is committed to help the educated youth of Pakistan play their full role in the country’s development.
Our great leader, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had great hopes on the youth. He once said and I quote:
“Pakistan is proud of her youth, particularly the students, who are nation builders of tomorrow. They must fully equip themselves by discipline, education, and training for the arduous task lying ahead of them.”
I thank the Aitchison College for giving me an opportunity to address this distinguished audience on the occasion of its 125th Founder’s Day.
I thank you all
Pakistan Piandaabad!