Islamabad: Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah said on Saturday the Aga Khan University has been a trusted partner of the Sindh government for decades, but in the recent years, the partnership has proven its value like never before.
“At the start of the pandemic, when Pakistan was recording its first cases of the virus, there were so many unknowns, there were so many questions in need of answers at that difficult time’ therefore, expertise of AKU was invaluable,” he said while speaking on the occasion of the Agha Khan University Founder’s Day - the 40th anniversary and the convocation of the Class of 2022 at the AKU.
The programme was attended by Princess Zahra Aga Khan, Chairman Zakir Mahmood, Sulaiman Shahabuddin, members of the Class of 2022 and family members of the graduates.
The chief minister said the AKU had been a trusted and great partner of his government. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the AKU was so willing to share its knowledge even in the middle of the night, and there was always someone from the university available to assist us, he added.
He said that as the case count of Covid-19 rose and it became clear that we needed to provide additional training to our doctors and nurses in caring for seriously ill patients, we naturally turned to the AKU. He added that with great enthusiasm, the AKU faculty trained thousands of public-sector health professionals and set up a hotline so that ICU doctors at public hospitals could get advice on caring for Covid patients round the clock.
The CM recalled that throughout the pandemic, his government relied on the AKU for data on the spread of the virus and the arrival of new strains.
Speaking about last year’s monsoon floods, the worst in our history, he said devastation was unlike anything Pakistan had ever seen. “AKU rose to the challenge once again, alongside government and numerous other private sector institutions and rushed to establish health camps in affected communities across Sindh and other provinces,” he said and added that the AKU cared for hundreds of thousands of people.
The CM thanked the members of the AKU community who came to the aid of their fellow citizens in their hour of need, whether as volunteers or as donors. He said the fact that so many AKU students participated in the university’s flood response speaks highly of them and of the education they have received.
Shah said he could recount many more examples of the AKU addressing important health and education issues in partnership with the public sector, from increasing access to vaccination in underserved areas of Karachi, to training teachers in rural Sindh. “The AKU is not an institution that exists for one group or sector of society but it working for the benefit of Sindh and Pakistan as a whole,” he said.
He further said that he has personal experience that he has an AKU graduate in his own family. “My niece is a member of the Medical College’s Class of 2017, so I know the kind of education that the graduates have received, I know their potential and I know that their futures are very bright indeed,” he said.
The AKU not only works in Pakistan but it also has thriving campuses and hospitals in Afghanistan, Kenya, Tanzania, Uganda, and the United Kingdom, the CM said and added that he had no doubt that they were fortunate that the Aga Khan University had planted roots in their soil.
The AKU’s success is a point of pride for the communities and countries it serves, which reminds us that there is another way in which, as His Highness said, the university was linked to the welfare of the society in which it is based, he said.
Shah further stated that if the AKU was flourishing, it was because it had been nourished by the people of Pakistan and its host countries across the Indian Ocean. “Its success is our success and it shows what we are capable of,” he said.
The CM said he would be working closely with the AKU to bring outstanding health care and education to the people of Sindh and Pakistan. He hoped that the new graduates would continue to demonstrate the power of an AKU education, and the extraordinary talent of our youth.
He offered heartiest felicitations to the graduates who we are honoured in the convocation. Addressing the newly graduates, he said the degree that they have earned at the AKU would serve them in their careers.
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