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Toasts of President Reagan and President Mobammad Zia-ul-Haq of Pakistan at the State Dinner

December 07, 1982

President Reagan. If I'm late getting up here, I just had to finish the story. [Laughter]

President Zia, Begum Zia, distinguished guests, it's an honor for me to welcome you to the White House this evening.

Mr. President, our talks this morning underlined again the strong links between our countries. We find ourselves even more frequently in agreement on our goals and objectives. And we, for example, applaud your deep commitment to peaceful progress in the Middle East and South Asia, a resolve which bolsters our hopes and the hopes of millions.

In the last few years, in particular, your country has come to the forefront of the struggle to construct a framework for peace in your region, an undertaking which includes your strenuous efforts to bring peaceful resolution to the crisis in Afghanistan—a resolution which will enable the millions of refugees currently seeking shelter in Pakistan to go home in peace and honor. Further, you've worked to ensure that progress continues toward improving the relationship between Pakistan and India. And in all these efforts the United States has supported your objectives and will applaud your success.

A great intellectual forefather of Pakistan, Muhammed Iqbal, once said that, "The secret of life is in the seeking." Well, President Zia, today the people of the United States and Pakistan are seeking the same goals. Your commitment to peace and progress in South Asia and the Middle East has reinforced our commitment to Pakistan. We want to assure you, Mr. President, and the people of your country that we will not waver in this commitment.

Our relationship is deep and long-standing. It stretches back to Pakistan's first days of independence. It stretches forward as far as we can see. It's based on mutual interest, yes, but also on shared visions and goals in the world around us. It is based, as well, on the fact that the people of both our countries sincerely value the good relations and the affinity between us.

Our people already work together in significant ways through educational exchanges, tourism, economic cooperation, and through bonds of family and friendship. We have cooperative programs in science and technology and in agriculture, and we hope to explore with the Government of Pakistan various ways of enhancing cooperation.

Differences may come between our nations or have come between our nations in the past, but they've proven to be transitory while the ties which bind us together grow stronger year by year. As we welcome you here tonight as the representative of your country and its people, we can say with confidence that those ties will continue to grow stronger and that the good will which exists between our two countries will prove to be both true and lasting.

And, Mr. President, I propose a toast to you, to the people of Pakistan, and to the friendship that binds our nations together.

President Zia. In the name of Allah, the beneficent, the merciful, we praise Him and we send blessings on His honored messenger.

Mr. President, Mrs. Reagan, Excellencies, distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen:

After hearing such an eloquent speech from—Mr. President, from you, and having had such a sumptuous—so well presented in such a fine company—a meal that I will perhaps cherish for many years to come, I see very little that I can add to what you have very kindly said. But still, Mr. President, my wife and I, as well as the members of my delegation, are most grateful to you, sir, for the honor you have done us in hosting this delightful banquet for us tonight. I have been deeply touched by the sentiments of your friendship that you have expressed towards me and my country, which are most warmly reciprocated.

Mr. President, the people of Pakistan are deeply committed to molding their lives and building their institutions in keeping with the dictates of Islam. Islam ordains upon—follows a belief in the equality and universal brotherhood of mankind. It was the dedication of your Founding Fathers, Mr. President, to similar ideals that created this great republic, the United States of America.

Mr. President, your country has been called the melting pot of people from all over the world. This is a trait we share with you, though, perhaps, on a very smaller scale. Let me therefore take you back to Pakistan, if I can.

Herein lies the Indus Valley, which is the heartland of Pakistan. This valley has been a veritable thoroughfare throughout history. Untold millions, representing all the major races of the Eurasian mass have made their way through our mountain passes to settle in or to pass through the Indus Valley. They came in all guises. They came as conquering hordes, as defeated or wandering tribes, as mystics and missionaries, as saints and sultans, and even as tourists and traders, both ancient and modern. And 35 years ago, Mr. President, many millions of Muslims of the South Asian subcontinent came together to help build a dream called Pakistan.

Thus we are indeed the heirs to a rich and a varied, if also somewhat turbulent historical heritage. But by the same token, we are a vigorous people with an innate feel for the movements of history.

And, Mr. President, unfortunately, a new and menacing turbulence has arisen in our region. More than a fifth of the entire population of Afghanistan has been compelled to seek shelter in Pakistan as a result of the armed intervention in that country by a foreign power. We are bending our effort to resolve this tragic situation through a peaceful political settlement, in accordance with the principles enunciated by the international community. The latest manifestation of this was the Resolution of Afghanistan adopted by the United Nations General Assembly, once again with the overwhelming support of the member states.

There are other turbulences in our region, Mr. President. The war between Iran and Iraq and the suffering recently visited upon the Lebanese and Palestinian people continue to cause us profound concern and anguish.

The situation calls for difficult yet courageous decisions. The most important of these is to find a just and a durable solution to the Palestinian problem, in accordance with the national rights of the Palestinian people. If I may be permitted, sir, to recall my words, it is for the first time that Arabs have put up a unified plan for the solution of the Palestine problem. To the best of my knowledge, it is for the first time that the President of the United States of America has put up a very comprehensive plan with some very positive elements in this.

Mr. President, knowing your humane qualities, knowing you as a man of God, knowing you as a man of peace, I urge you not to leave this opportunity that is coming your way. I request you to be yourself, to find the rest of you and take this bold step, because history will then remember you not only as Reagan of the United States of America but Reagan the Peacemaker, the Reagan who solved practically an insolvable problem. We in Pakistan, Mr. President, wish you to take this initiative, and we wish you all the best. And we will pray for your success.

Earlier today in our personal discussion and in the talks including our colleagues, I had an opportunity to discuss these and other issues with you. I'm deeply gratified by the manner in which you made clear your continuing and deep-felt interest in the welfare and prosperity of the people of Pakistan and your support for what we are doing for the sake of stability in our region.

In turn, Mr. President, I would like to assure you, sir, of our confidence that with your acknowledged qualities of human understanding and with the high principled tradition of your country behind you the United States will keep faith with its friends and well-wishers.

Mr. President, allow me to thank you also for what you have said, for what you have said about the continued relationship between Pakistan and the United States of America. We cherish this union of partners—though unequal partners—but as two sovereign states comprising of people who love each other, comprising of people who have love and regard for humanity, comprising of people who love peace. And, as you said about the United States of America, that if this country has been created, God must have ordained this to be a country of peace.

Spread this America, Mr. President, to areas other than the United States of America. Let America be the torchbearer of peace, peace not only on the American continent but peace in Afghanistan, peace in Vietnam, peace in Somalia, and above all, peace in Palestine. We wish you, sir, all the best in your endeavors. And you will never find Pakistanis faltering. We'll be there right behind you to give you the helping hand, if we can, at the moment that you wish us to do so.

With these words, may I request you, ladies and gentlemen, to join me in a toast to the health and happiness of President Reagan and his charming wife, Mrs. Nancy Reagan, the continued progress and prosperity of the people of the United States, the establishment of peace, stability, and justice throughout the world. To the health and happiness of all friends, ladies and gentlemen, who are present here tonight. And, finally, a continuing friendship between Pakistan and the United States of America. I thank you.

Note: President Reagan spoke at 9:50 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House.

Ronald Reagan, Toasts of President Reagan and President Mobammad Zia-ul-Haq of Pakistan at the State Dinner Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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