December 17, 2015
Thank you so much for the very kind introduction, and Prof. Dr. Masoom Yasinzai, Prof. Dr. Mohammad Bashir Khan, Sher Nowrooz Khan. It’s really a delight for me to be here. Assalamu Aleikum of course to all.
I would be remiss, although I thank you so much for the warm welcome, and I’m very honored to be here today at this university and in this Corner, but we also know that yesterday, we all remembered what happened a year ago in Peshawar at the school, and I just can’t let an occasion like this pass without commenting on that, and knowing that, I hope you realize that we at the Embassy feel this very much, the tragedy that you encountered, and had a moment of silence at our Embassy yesterday. I was in Peshawar on Monday, and visited the school, and several of the students who were there, and it was very moving to see that, but also, to see that they’re focused on the future, as we are I think, all of us, and how we can move beyond that and prevent it from ever happening again.
This of course is called a Lincoln Center, and Abraham Lincoln was one of our great presidents, and he too, of course, suffered a tragedy; he was felled by the bullet of an assassin. But we don’t just call these Lincoln Corners, we also have other aspects that our corners are named after – great Americans like Martin Luther King, and Eleanor Roosevelt, and Susan B. Anthony. One thing that brings all four of those leaders together was their lifelong commitment to equality, and to human freedom, and fair treatment, and I think those are wonderful values that we and Pakistan share together, so I’m so pleased that we have caught those names and caught the spirit of those great leaders.
I have been in Pakistan almost exactly one month now and this is my first visit to a Lincoln Corner. Just in my brief tour here, I saw a beautiful and dynamic space, and I understand it’s much bigger than the Corner that was here before. IIU deserves so much credit for making this a welcoming and useful place for the students. I understand that already there has been a very heavy demand, and so with the additional resources, we are grateful the university offered a larger space for the corner. And of course, we worked together to remodel it and bring the results that you see now. The new space more than doubles the size of what we had before. I hope you faculty and students, will take full advantage of it and bring your friends and colleagues here often.
We would like to thank IIUI for its generosity for and the great partnership that we enjoy, not just in the corner, but in so many other activities that we work on together, and we thank you for the increased opportunities for students to have an additional place to learn and to interact.
Lincoln Corner Islamabad is just part of a network of 17 such Lincoln Corners across Pakistan. These Corners are meant to be centers of learning, of innovation, and of open dialogue. They are places where we can connect with students, who are of course the future leaders of this country.
The Lincoln Corner is only a small part of our long-term partnership with IIUI. We also have a three-year university partnership program launched between IIUI and the University of North Carolina at Wilmington, and that focuses on politics, international relations, and English as a language. We are also working with IIUI’s Department of English to implement training programs for English language teachers working in various mudaras around the country.
When President Obama and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif met in Washington in October, one of the things they discussed and emphasized was the value of investing in education. And you as students know this better than anyone. We applaud very much the vision of Pakistan’s leaders to invest more and more in educational opportunities for their people. And we will continue to work with Pakistan to create more and more educational opportunities. We already invest more in Fulbright scholarships in Pakistan than we do in any other country in the world. We make these investments because we firmly believe that investing in education strengthens our relationship, builds friendships between peoples, and fosters stability, prosperity, and opportunity, things that obviously we both share in common, and have a common interest in pursuing, so I thank you again for having me here today. It was wonderful to see this great center and this wonderful library, and my first visit at this distinguished university, and I hope it will be the first of many. Thank you very much.