Remarks at the Old Consul General’s Residence in Karachi

Chief Minister of Sindh Syed Qaim Ali Shah,
Governor of Sindh Ishrat ul Ebad Khan,
Chief Secretary of Sindh Muhammad Memon, Consul General Brian Heath
Esteemed guests,
Assalamu Alaikum.

I am pleased to be here in Karachi and to join you all at this historic home. I have presented my credentials to the President a little more than two weeks ago, and have looked forward ever since to my first visit to this vibrant, diverse, and significant city of the world. As Pakistan’s largest city, as a global metropolis, as a cultural hub, and as Pakistan’s economic center, Karachi plays an essential part in our mutual efforts to build a deep, lasting, and beneficial relationship between the people of our two countries.

Karachi’s outsized role in Pakistan, historically and down to the present day, is well-known. Of course, Karachi is the birthplace, home, and final resting place of the nation’s founder, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah. I had the honor of laying a wreath at his tomb earlier today.

While it is my first visit to your great city, America has been here, in Karachi, since the very beginning of the modern state of Pakistan. I have with me copies of some amazing photographs, from the 1959 visit of one of our great American presidents, Dwight Eisenhower, to First Lady Jackie Kennedy, astronauts, vice presidents, great musicians like Duke Ellington and Dizzy Gillespie, and even a very young future president, Barack Obama, in 1982.

The United States was one of the first nations to recognize Pakistan’s independence. We have had a diplomatic presence in Karachi ever since. If we were in a time machine, and I was Ambassador to Pakistan before the capital of Pakistan moved to Islamabad, this beautiful house, only a few doors down from Jinnah’s own home, Flagstaff House, would have been mine for a while. It is so stunning, forgive me for any second thoughts I might be having about that move more than fifty years ago.

Clearly, Karachi is one of the keys to Pakistan’s success. Karachi’s ports link the city with the world and make it a gateway to the rest of the country. The people of Karachi are a cross-section of all Pakistanis, forming a beautiful tapestry of languages, cultures, faiths, and traditions. It’s impossible to imagine Pakistan without Karachi, and it’s impossible to understand Pakistan without understanding Karachi – which is why I am so glad to be here today.

I would like to take a few minutes to highlight some of what we are doing together in Pakistan, and particularly in Karachi and Sindh, to support a secure, economically vibrant, and democratic Pakistan.

I know from Finance Minister Dar that the government wants to improve Pakistan’s appeal as a destination for global investment, and wants to expand trade. We want to help, with our advocacy efforts and assistance programs. Our leaders are committed to expanding trade and investment and continuing to work together in such sectors as energy, education, and information technology – sectors essential for Pakistan’s development.

Like so many countries, Pakistan’s future rests with a well-educated and trained workforce. Our cooperation in education includes thousands of scholarships for Pakistanis, here and in the United States. Our Fulbright program in Pakistan is the best funded in the world. Another program links universities in Pakistan and America, advancing faculty development, developing curriculum and joint research, and promoting peer relations. We have five such partnerships in Sindh alone.

You may have heard of the Sindh Basic Education Program. Since 2011 we have worked with the Government of Sindh to provide $155 million in USAID grants to increase and sustain student enrollment in primary, middle, and secondary schools throughout the province. A serious commitment to education should start at the primary school level, which is exactly what we are doing here together in Sindh.

Our commitment is not just about education, crucial as that is. We also support efforts to improve access to electricity, power, and good governance for all Pakistanis. We support cultural heritage and the arts through exchange programs, institutional partnerships, and grants. We lend a hand to train and equip law enforcement officials to better serve their constituents. We work with the government to stop violent extremists threatening all of us. In short, together, we are striving for a strong, stable, and prosperous Pakistan that is a stabilizing force in the region.

The lasting people-to-people ties we are building are sources of resiliency in our relationship. Much already ties us together, but building mutually beneficial relations is a never ending mission. Ultimately, we hope this relationship is giving Pakistanis some of the tools needed to fulfill the vision Mohammed Ali Jinnah developed just a few steps down the street – a vision of a peaceful, democratic, and prosperous Pakistan.