Dr. Masuma Hasan
Chairperson, The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs
Tuesday, 29 April 2014
Honourable Mr. Mamnoon Hussain, President of Pakistan
Dr. Ishrat Ul Ebad Khan, Governor of Sindh
Syed Qaim Ali Shah, Chief Minister of Sindh
Ladies and gentlemen,
It is indeed a great privilege and honour for me to welcome you, on behalf of the members of The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs and on my own behalf, to this session which the President of Pakistan has graced with his illustrious presence. I am truly grateful to the President for having found the time to be with us today in spite of his numerous other engagements.
Those who are even vaguely familiar with our national politics know how committed the President has been to strengthening our democratic system and how strong is his grasp on international politics. Since the present government came to power, he has led many delegations to countries abroad.
At the outset, I would like to say a few words about this Institute, although many of you may be familiar with its status and work. It was established in Karachi in 1947 as an independent, non-official and non-political learned body, charged with the task of study and research in international affairs, economics and jurisprudence. At that time, Karachi was the capital of Pakistan and we were able to provide, in those difficult times, much needed help to our fledgling government and Foreign Office. Like other institutes of international affairs throughout the world, it was meant to act as a bridge between official policy and public opinion on matters of international concern and foreign policy issues. Our research output is reflected in our publications, especially in our quarterly journal, Pakistan Horizon, which we have published since 1948. It is the oldest scholarly journal in Pakistan and has now entered its 67th year of publication. You will appreciate that the uninterrupted publication of Pakistan Horizon since 1948 has been a great achievement.
Through its excellent library, the Institute has provided scholarly sources and material to many generations of scholars and statesmen, students, journalists, media persons and leaders of public opinion. Indeed, it has provided them with a unique academic shelter and a forum for informed debate and dialogue.
In this narrative, let me not forget to mention here that the origins of this Institute go back in time. Its origins lie in The Indian Institute of International Affairs which was established in Delhi in the mid-1930s. When Pakistan was fast becoming a reality in 1947, Khwaja Sarwar Hasan, who then headed that Institute, started working to move the Institute to Karachi. He approached Quaid-i-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah and Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan. They gave their blessings and allocated one carriage on a Pakistan special train to transport the Institute’s library and other moveable assets to Karachi. In an extraordinary general meeting, the members of that Institute voted to shift its offices to Karachi. Perhaps it was the only institution which moved to Pakistan through a democratic vote. Our first offices were located in Frere Hall but a few years later we shifted to the beautiful pink building which we had constructed a few hundred yards down the road from here.
Mr. President, ladies and gentlemen,
In view of its origins and history, it is but natural that this Institute should be dedicated to the national interest, democracy and peace. I would like to build my submissions around the imperative for peace, the attainment of which is the goal of the present government. Two major world wars were fought in the last century in order to end all wars, and millions of people were dispossessed and died. But peace has remained elusive and the world is still riddled with conflicts, both inter-state and internal. Democracy and peace are interlinked. Without them there can be no development or progress, no social change, people cannot go to work, children cannot go to school, women cannot step out of their homes, poverty cannot be eradicated and the difference between the rich and the poor cannot be bridged.
Our South Asian region has been in turmoil for many decades and there are outstanding disputes between its members, waiting to be resolved, such as our own dispute relating to Kashmir. All the countries of the region also face security threats from what are now described as non-state actors in which thousands of lives have been lost. However, in our quest for peace, I am sure everyone here will agree, that we will never follow a policy of appeasement or compromise on the fundamental rights of our people.
As we all know, the present government faces many challenges at home and at the international level, but it is a matter of great satisfaction that democratic institutions in our country have found a new stability and a new dignity. This will strengthen the government’s hands in its dealings at home and abroad. Pakistan has always contributed to international stability through its role in the United Nations. Pakistan has been a responsible nuclear power. It has played a mature and sensible role in the advocacy for international treaties which regulate relations between states and Pakistan’s forces have served as leading peacekeepers in about 40 dangerous conflict zones. One in ten of the UN peacekeepers deployed around the world are from Pakistan and UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon has always commended them for keeping alive the values and goals of the United Nations. As Quaid-i-Azam had said long ago: “Pakistan will never be found lacking in extending its material and moral support to the oppressed and suppressed peoples of the world and in upholding the principles of the UN Charter”.
Pakistan has hosted millions of Afghan refugees for three decades, providing them with space, shelter and livelihood, a record unsurpassed by any other country in the world. In the same spirit, we look forward to the results of the elections in our neighbouring countries, India and Afghanistan. Pakistan has an abiding interest in peace in Afghanistan and, Mr. President, you led a delegation yourself to the quadrilateral summit in Kabul in which you underlined the importance of an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned reconciliation process and the imperative of striving for a peaceful neighbourhood.
When Mr. Liaquat Ali Khan, the first prime minister of Pakistan, inaugurated this Institute in March 1948, he stressed upon the need for an institution which would disseminate information from the people to policy makers and vice versa. Through our public diplomacy events we have endeavoured to do that and our members have been addressed by heads of state and government, statesmen, diplomats and scholars. It is with great pleasure, therefore, that I welcome you once again and request you to address our members and guests.