John F. Kennedy photo

Remarks of Welcome to the President of Pakistan at Andrews Air Force Base

July 11, 1961

Mr. President, your daughter the Begum, the Ambassador of Pakistan, members of your party, ladies and gentlemen:

It is a great pleasure and great honor for me to welcome our distinguished visitor, the President of Pakistan. I do not know if he realizes that many generations of young boys, of which I was one in this century, found the same excitement, the same adventure in the history of his country that young men, young boys find in my own country in Laramie, Fort Dodge, Tombstone, and all the rest.

The Khyber Pass, the fact that Alexander's troops moved through your country so many years ago in extending their control into the far reaches of the known earth, the great struggles of the 19th and 20th century on your frontiers--all this had a great effect upon at least one young American growing up, and I'm sure it was shared by many of my contemporaries.

We are also glad to have you here because Americans in private and in their public life appreciate the value of friendship and the constancy of friends. And it is a fact which is remembered by every citizen of this country, that during the difficult days which faced our country at the time of the war in Korea, one of the first to offer us assistance was your country, and one of those who played a most significant role during the whole years of the long struggle was the country of Pakistan.

Thirdly, we are glad to have you here because even in my short months as President of the United States I have had my own opportunity to make a judgment of the vigor, of the friendship, of the people of your country. And during the difficult days which we have already had, the support and friendship which your country has extended to us has caused you to be especially welcome today.

Most of all, we're glad to have you here because you come as the head of an important and powerful country which is allied with us in SEATO, which is associated with us in CENTO, which represents a powerful force for freedom in your area of the world.

I want to say that the President originally had intended to come in November, but after the Vice President's trip there, where he was most impressed with the exchange of views which he had with the President, he suggested that we impose upon the President and ask him to move his trip ahead, because of the importance of consultation on great issues during these summer months. He was kind enough to do it, and I want to say, Mr. President, that we appreciate your coming now.

We are looking forward to having a chance to talk with you on the great issues which face both of our countries. Your leadership in your country, your stand for freedom, your efforts to build a better life for your people, your efforts to harness science in order to defeat nature, in the whole effort to reclaim your land and make it fruitful--all these things have made you a figure which causes us to be extremely grateful to have you here.

I want you to know, Mr. President, and I hope your countrymen know, that you come with the warmest welcome from the people of this country, and the warmest welcome from the Government, the warmest welcome from the Congress--as you will see tomorrow.

I want to say, Mr. President, that in these difficult days it is a pleasure to welcome a friend of immediacy and constancy, the President of Pakistan.

Note: President Ayub Kahn responded as follows: Mr. President, Secretary of State, General Lemnitzer, and other friends:

I am overwhelmed by the warmth of the reception, Mr. President, you have given me, and the very kind words you have expressed about my country and its relationship with your country.

We in Pakistan take deep interest in the thinking, policies, and actions of the United States of America, although we are a long way away from you and you are a long way away from us; but the world has shrunk and we feel that our safety and our security and our independence is endurably linked with yours. And I hope that you also feel that your interests in the regions in which we live are an identification with our interest.

We therefore naturally take deepest interest in what goes on in this country and especially what you do, sir. We watch you very carefully, for the simple reason that what you do affects our future. And so therefore, Mr. President, I have come here to see you especially, to exchange views with you, for the simple reason that your country and my country are so close to each other. And when in the near future very far-reaching events may overtake us, it is necessary that we should all have our minds clear as to the work that has to be done. At the same time I have heard of your great dynamic personality, and the people that are around you, and it is so nice and refreshing to hear that somebody has the wisdom, the drive, and the go, that at least it does my heart a lot of good. I am looking forward to having the opportunity of exchanging views with you and the other members of your team, and I shall be presenting before you the views of the people of Pakistan right on the other side of the world--and it is a good thing to know what goes on, on the other side of the hill.

And at the same time I shall be anxiously listening to what you have to say, and I have no doubt that our area of understanding will enlarge as a result of it, and our friendship will get stronger.

Before I finish I would like to perform one more pleasant duty, and that is this: Mr. President, I bring to you the greetings--through you to the people of the United States of America--the greetings of the people of Pakistan. They wish you all well.
Thank you.

John F. Kennedy, Remarks of Welcome to the President of Pakistan at Andrews Air Force Base Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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