Ambassador Hale’s Remarks at the PUAN Islamabad-Rawalpindi Chapter Reunion

Date: August 17, 2017
Location: Marriott Hotel, Islamabad
Remarks as Prepared

Assalamu Aleikum.  It is an honor to join you today for the 7th annual reunion of the Pakistan-United States Alumni Network’s Islamabad-Rawalpindi chapter.

Thank you to PUAN country president Khawaja Mudassar and chapter president Saima Amjad.  The chapter’s leadership team put a lot of work into organizing tonight’s reunion and the many programs they do year-round.

PUAN has a well-deserved reputation as a vibrant, engaged, and active alumni network.  It is a model for alumni networks around the world.

Just three days ago, we celebrated the 70th anniversary of diplomatic relations between the United States and Pakistan.  Although our bilateral relationship has faced challenges, American and Pakistani shared interests have shaped an enduring relationship over seven decades.

In an August 14, 1947, message to Governor General Mohammed Ali Jinnah, U.S. President Harry Truman congratulated Pakistan on its “emergence among the family of nations” and pledged firm friendship and good will, saying, “The American people anticipate a long history of close and cordial relations with your country.  We rejoice with you in the prospect for rapid progress toward the advancement of the welfare of the people of Pakistan.”

PUAN and the programs that you have taken part in are concrete manifestations of that “close and cordial relationship” envisioned by President Truman 70 years ago.  And you are evidence of our joint efforts to advance the welfare of the people of Pakistan.  Alumni come from all walks of life and all parts of Pakistan.  You are leaders in your respective fields.  And now, for the first time, your Prime Minister is an alumnus of the International Visitor Leadership Program – an accomplishment of which we can all be proud.

The most enduring ties between countries are made at the people-to-people level.  The future depends not just on our leaders; it depends on our people.  PUAN and its 22,000 members are a great example of the power of that people-to-people relationship.

Although you come from so many different backgrounds in Pakistan, one common bond that unites all of you is your experience in the United States – whether it was traveling there for an exchange program or participating in a long-term, intensive educational program.

Your commitment to PUAN is admirable.  It further strengthens the ties between America and Pakistan.  And it contributes to a more peaceful and prosperous Pakistan and region.

Although the exchange programs of the United States with Pakistan are among the largest in the world, there are millions of Pakistanis who will never have the experience everyone in this room has had – interacting first-hand with the world beyond Pakistan — and in this case, with Americans from many different walks of life.

Through your engagement with PUAN, we hope you will help us make a connection with Pakistanis who, for now, only know the United States from a distance.

Thank you for your commitment to PUAN and your dedication to a strong and meaningful friendship between Pakistan and America.

Khuda Hafiz.