ISLAMABADOver 200 Pakistani alumni of American government exchange programs participated in the 2018 Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network (PUAN) international conference opening ceremony today.

The conference, which runs through July 15, is focusing on Pakistani-American partnerships in cultural industries, entrepreneurship, and international education, while promoting shared values of tolerance and social inclusion.

Visiting from Washington, Assistant Secretary of State for Educational and Cultural Affairs Marie Royce participated in the event, together with American Embassy Chargé d’Affaires John Hoover.

They were joined by hundreds of alumni, including Nazir Sabir (the first Pakistani to summit Mount Everest), attorney Ramesh Jaipal, and performing artist Sheema Kermani.  All spoke about the transformative power of exchange programs and people-to-people ties in advancing shared American-Pakistani goals.

Assistant Secretary Royce highlighted the conference’s goal to support Pakistan’s domestic growth and international trade.  “Many of you know that the United States is Pakistan’s largest market, with bilateral trade topping 663 billion rupees this year,” Royce noted.

“Whether it is supporting tourism and cultural industries, or advancing entrepreneurship and technical education, American-Pakistani connections in all fields will only benefit both our countries.”

“There is no group quite like the Pakistan-U.S. Alumni Network,” Chargé Hoover said.  “The 25,000 members of this community possess staggering power.  You have the resources, knowledge, and ambition to shape Pakistan and the future of the region.”

He also participated in the opening of an art exhibition featuring work by emerging Pakistani artists and prominent alumni of U.S.-funded exchange programs.

The exhibition was organized by PUAN, in cooperation with Nukta Studios and the Satrang Gallery at the Serena Hotel, Islamabad.