. . . . . .  
University of Lahore Convocation, 21 November 2015
On the Convocation of 350 graduates of the Department of Accounting & Finance, University of Lahore


I am honored to be amongst you this morning on this graduation ceremony of your School of Accountancy and Finance.

Since the receiving the charter from the Government of Punjab in 2002, The University of Lahore has made tremendous progress. It provides quality education in more than 16 disciplines, including Medicine, Dentistry, Pharmacy, Engineering, Business Administration, and of course your own specialty: Accounting and Finance.

Not many of you may know – but you should, as tomorrow’s Alumni - that The University of Lahore is ranked as a “W-4” Category University in Pakistan. That is like getting a n A+ grade in your term paper.

In 2006, your university was included in the list of top 550 universities of the world in 2006, becoming the first university from Pakistan ever to have been in such a prestigious list. New universities are added each year. That is why The University of Lahore strives every academic day of every academic year to maintain its standards and to retain its place among the list of top universities of the world.

Being a Chartered Accountant, I have a natural affinity with Accounting & Finance. I qualified sometime in the middle of the last century … I think I should rephrase that. It makes me seem like something out of Jurrasic Park.

I should have said, as a Chartered Accountant who qualified sometime in the mid 1960s, and as someone who has taught at Accounting at LUMS, FFC University and at the National School of Public Policy which trains senior bureaucrats, the programmes run by your School of Accountancy are obviously of more than professional interest to me.  

The degree programmes it offers are accredited by ICAP, ICAEW, CIMA and ACCA. You graduates can avail up to 8 papers exemption in ICAP and ICAEW exam, 9 papers in ACCA, and 10 to 13 papers in CIMA program.  These programmes have been designed to provide you students with skills and knowledge in applied and practical aspects of accountancy, commerce and finance. Their curriculum includes knowledge of International Accounting Standards and International Auditing Standards.

No curriculum is ever complete without the inclusion of subjects that develop an awareness amongst our future Pakistanis of the value of Ethics, Integrity and Social Responsibility.

These may seem like catchwords to you, clichés which like some pop song you can listen to for a moment and then forget the next.

As you move up the ladder of your life, you will realise the truth of advice that successful people have left for us.

‘A business that makes nothing but money is a poor kind of business,’ Henry Ford - the famous American pioneer of automobiles – said. 

Or as Lord Sieff, a noted British businessman once advised:  ‘Business only fully contributes to society is it is efficient, profitable and socially responsible.’

The American politician Adlai Stevenson expanded that idea at a national level: ‘Physical power is no substitute for moral power. Moral power is the true sign of a nation’s greatness.’

The finest of Adlai Stevenson’s sayings and one that has always served as an inspiration to me personally is: ‘Don’t curse the darkness. Light a candle instead.’

Think about it. How often do we begin a discussion with: “Yaar, the problem is…”?

What we should be saying is: “Yaar, the solution is…

As television talk-shows demonstrate twenty-fours a day on at least fifty channels, everyone knows what our problems are. How many of them know the solutions?  The solutions sit in front of me. You will solve what we tried to. 

Looking at you in your gowns and mortar boards, I cannot tell why many of you  chose Accounting and Finance as a subject.

Hands up those who chose it of their own volition?

Hands up those who were nudged into it by their parents or by their relatives?

Hands up those who chose it because they did not know what else to choose as a career?

Sixty years ago, I was like you. I did not know what career to choose. In those days everyone became either a lawyer or an engineer.

Then one summer, I remember it was in 1958, my father said to me over lunch: “Become a Chartered Accountant!”

“What on earth is a Chartered Accountant?” I asked him.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “But you have five years to find out!”  Well, I have spent the past fifty years finding out.

Today, as I look back, I am grateful for his having arranged this ‘arranged marriage’. It has lasted fifty years. There were times, as in any marriage, when I regretted that decision, wished I had married someone else, ‘opened the door,’ as poet once said, ‘that might have led to another garden.’

There were times when I felt the relationship was unevenly one-sided. I found myself giving more to my profession than I was receiving from it.

Of one thing I was sure. On balance, I have been the beneficiary – by far. The discipline, the regimen of self-training, the standards of professionalism inculcated in me have made me what I have become. I have worked in the Automotive & Tractor manufacturing plants, in the Oil & Gas industry, in the Insurance and Banking sectors, in Education and Literature. I hope I have made a contribution to each.

 There is not one moment, though, in such varied enterprises with their myriad challenges that I have not the opportunity to apply the precepts and the principles I had learned when I was your age.            

I qualified at the age of twenty-two in England. When I returned to Pakistan, I met a friend who had also qualified. I noticed her driving past one day. I stopped. We agreed to have lunch and after she had driven away, I turned and said to my Pathan driver: ‘Noor Samad, you know she has the same qualification that I have.”

Noor Samad looked startled. “Sahib,” he said, “you went all the way to England to learn women’s work !!”

This morning, your Dean Mr Maqbool and his Department of Accounting & Finance can be proud that out of a total number of 350 graduates, 100 are women. In effect, therefore, out of 350 graduates, applying my driver’s logic, 250 men will be doing women’s work.

Professionalism is not a matter of gender. It is a combination of talent, application and endeavour. It is driven by the ambition to succeed. It is rewarded as you are being today by recognition.

Until today, you have been receiving. You have been incurring debts which go beyond monetary obligations. It is now pay-back time.

The best way you can repay your parents is to make them as proud of your success as you yourselves feel. They are an integral, inseparable part of it. 

The best way you can repay your university is to be an active member of its Alumni body.  Give books to its library, give money for scholarships to help future students, but above all give of yourself. Come back and repay through the benefit of your experience what you gained here during your greener days.

The best way you can repay your country is to live and contribute like responsible citizens. There are a thousand things wrong with our country. Take me anywhere in the world and in every country, you will find citizens complaining about their country, criticizing their governments, or wishing they could live somewhere else.

The test is not whether you can migrate. That is a matter of the right paper-work. No one though who has ever immigrated to Canada, the US, the UK or Australia has ever improved Pakistan – which is your country and mine - long-distance.

There is not a moment in our history when we have not felt we were in the direst of straits. In 1965, 1971, the Bhutto years, the Zia years, BB 1 & BB2, NS 1, 2 and now 3. But every year, a new generation of younger, better educated, more dynamic and more motivated Pakistanis has replaced their elders, just as you today are replacing us. Our future is not in your hands. Our future is You.

Let me conclude by thanking Maqbool sahib for the invitation to address you today. I want to thank you for sharing this important moment in your lives with me. And I want to congratulate your Faculty which has brought you to this pinnacle of academic success.  Savour this moment. You have the rest of your lives – and may they be long ones – to master your chosen field of study.

And remember:

When you feel depressingly

Slow is your climb,

It is well to remember that

Anything worth waiting for

Always takes time.  



21 November 2015
All Speeches
Latest Books :: Latest Articles :: Latest SPEECHES :: Latest POEMS