Speeches and Remarks
Consul General's Remarks at Roundtable with Young Pakistani Entrepreneurs
July 23, 2012
Welcome. Thank you for coming. Ramazan Mubarak. I'm Michael Dodman and I'm so pleased to have started my work as the United States Consul General in Karachi.
I want to start by saying just how much I am looking forward to getting to know the people of this amazing city and throughout Sindh and Balochistan. It is a tremendous honor for me to represent the United States here.
I'm sure many of you knew my predecessor, William Martin, who left over the weekend for his next assignment in the United States. Many Pakistanis I met even before arriving in Karachi last week remarked to me about William's strong and frequent engagement with the media. Following his example, and with the help of our excellent Press team at the Consulate, I look forward to doing the same. I hope this is only the first of many opportunities we will have over the coming years.
Let me say just a couple words about myself. I've been an American diplomat for 25 years. My career focus has been economic growth and development. In the years before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall I worked in Central and Eastern Europe to promote economic reform and build closer economic relations with the United States and countries like Poland and the Czech Republic. I did the same in Turkey and Iraq.
The lesson I have drawn from this work is that U.S. support and small amounts of targeted assistance can help advance economic reform. In all the countries that I've had the pleasure to serve, our goal was a strong and stable economy and a lasting economic partnership with the United States.
And that's why I'm here in Karachi. Let me be clear: the United States wants to see a strong, prosperous and peaceful Pakistan. We want to see the people of Pakistan reap the benefits of strong economic growth. And we hope that growing economic ties between our two countries will translate into a stronger bilateral partnership.
But over two decades of working on this, I am certain that the key to Pakistan's economic development is not the United States. We can help, but economic success will only come from within Pakistan itself.
I am convinced that Pakistan has what it takes to achieve the future that the Pakistani people want and deserve. And Karachi is critical to that future, with a young and growing population, a thriving business community, and a location that makes this city a natural hub for regional trade.
So as I planned my first week as Consul General, I asked my staff to put together a group of young business entrepreneurs for a discussion on my very first day on the job.
The individuals you see behind me are just a small sample of the many young Pakistanis in Karachi and throughout this country who have decided to take the risk of starting a business, and committed to working incredibly hard to make it thrive.
Young entrepreneurs like these are the future of Pakistan, so as I start out my assignment I wanted to hear from them about the opportunities and challenges they face. What I heard made me optimistic about Pakistan's future.
I also asked for their thoughts on how we can help support the development of Pakistani entrepreneurs. We already have numerous U.S. government assistance programs targeted on economic growth. But I want to make sure that the Consulate here in Karachi is doing everything we can to support economic growth.
Let me emphasize that our chat today was only the start of a dialogue that I look forward to continuing in the weeks and months ahead.
My plan for the coming days is to continue to meet with a sampling of Karachi's vibrant civil society and of course with government officials and other institutions. My hope is to get to know Karachi and the rest of Sindh Province, as well as Balochistan, to be able to better support economic growth and build closer ties between our two great nations. Since my goal today and in these early meetings is primarily to listen and learn, I hope you will understand that I don't have too much to say this morning.
I want to thank all our guests for coming to my Residence today, both these impressive young entrepreneurs and our friends from the media. I look forward to getting to know all of you and working with you during my time here in Karachi. And again, Ramazan Mubarak.