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Toasts of the President and President Yahya Khan of Pakistan at a State Dinner in Lahore

August 01, 1969

Mr. President, and our friends from Pakistan and the United States:

I have the privilege of responding to the very gracious and eloquent words of the President on this occasion, and in doing so, I want to respond for all of those from the United States that are here, and for the many who are friends of Pakistan in the United States who could not be here. Mr. President, I can say that this has been a very memorable day for all of us, and particularly for me and for Mrs. Nixon; memorable from the time that we arrived at the airport, when we saw the very friendly people who welcomed us as we drove through the roads on the way here to this residence, and then the very constructive talks that we had during the afternoon, the truly magnificent presentation on the grounds where we saw not only the dances, but in addition, the splendid-I perhaps should say the best--bagpipe group that probably exists in the world.

Then tonight this dinner, one that we shall always remember because of the historic setting in which it takes place, because of the good company that is here, and because of the really superb way in which this dinner has been presented.

In that connection, if I could be permitted one personal comment, we have particularly enjoyed the music, the chance alternately to appreciate and understand the music of Pakistan and then the music of the United States. We are most grateful to the orchestra and we thank you for that.

I learned something interesting about the music, incidentally, when one number was being played. I found that it was a wedding number and I was told that wedding numbers quite often are melancholy in Pakistan because it is a sad time to have the bride leave the family and go, of course, away from home to someone else. When we had met the lovely ladies from Pakistan here tonight, we well understood why that would have been the case.

But if I may turn to what are more serious thoughts for a moment, earlier this evening in the reception, one of your guests pointed out that on this occasion our stay in Pakistan would be exactly 22 hours, which happens to coincide with the exact number of hours that the two astronauts spent on the moon.

I think there is a lesson in that, a lesson in it that I would like to expand on very briefly. This journey came about due to the fact that I wanted to be present when our astronauts came back from the moon. It was truly a very exciting experience-after having talked to them on the telephone when they were on the moon--to be there in the Pacific when they completed that successful journey.

Now, with this visit to Pakistan, we complete the Asian phase of our journey around the world. It is true that the visits have been brief, only one day in each country, except for a longer stay in Bangkok, where we had 2 days. But in that period of time, it gave us the opportunity, and particularly me the opportunity, to revisit a number of countries that I had known before, to talk to a number of leaders that I had met before and to meet some that I had not had the opportunity to talk to before, but beyond that, putting it in the perspective of that 22 hours on the moon, and the 22 hours that we are spending in Pakistan, it brings home this one thought:

Unfortunately--I say unfortunately because all around this table, I am sure, would like to participate in the high adventure of being the first to go to the moon or the first to go to Mars, provided we had an absolute, guaranteed, free ticket, whatever the case might be--but we all know that that is not possible, that none of us here will be in that experience, although we will share in it, share in it through the medium of television and radio and communication, which now brings the world together as it has never been brought together before.

On the other hand, while that was a very great adventure, and as the president very generously has pointed out, an achievement of which we are very proud, I think that what we have seen in this less than a week in Asia is also adventure of the very highest order.

I visited all of these countries 16 years ago. Many problems have developed since that time, and I know that there are still many problems today. But looking at the perspective of 16 years, I know that virtually all of the nations that I visited then have moved forward substantially from where they were. That is true of Pakistan. It is true in terms of your economic development. It is true in terms of your industrial development. Despite whatever other problems may have occurred in the meantime, keeping it in the long perspective of history, this is something we must always have in mind as a symbol of hope for the future.

But looking further down the road, in the countries we have visited and the area that we have covered, what we see are one and a half billion people in Asia. In 25 years there will be 3 billion people in Asia. And from this part of the world will either come the greatest progress, and thereby the peace that we all want in the Pacific and in the world, or the greatest destruction that the world has ever known.

I do not think I am overstating in putting it that way. So we look at these countries, we look at the hope, and we look also at the problems. We can see that all of our hopes are bound together. We have our differences, yes, between nations in the area, on this policy or that policy, but looking toward the future, it is essential, absolutely essential, that we have a generation of peace for Asia and the world.

We in the United States want to play our part in attempting to begin that generation by ending a war in which we are presently engaged on a basis that will promote that real peace that we all want, and then to work on for peaceful policies all over the world in the future.

But beyond that, and responding particularly to what the President has said, as we consider this explosion in population from 1 ½ billion to 3 billion people over 25 years, the greatest explosion that has ever occurred in the history of the world, it means that there must be an increase in agricultural production, in industrial production, and also the ability to handle this period of tremendous change in a peaceful way.

What I am really trying to say is, as great and exciting as was the accomplishment of those men landing on the moon, those of us who have the opportunity and the responsibility and the challenge of dealing with this problem also have an exciting and, it seems to me, great adventure, because what we do--what we do day by day in making the decisions that will determine whether peace and freedom and justice and progress go forward together in Asia and the world--what we do can affect the future of not just a billion and a half, not just 3 billion, but of the 4½ to 5 billion people that will live on this earth 25 years from now.

Talking in such big numbers I am sure seems to raise the whole problem beyond the ability to comprehend. But, again, we get back to the moon.

Who would have thought 25 years ago that two men from earth would stand on the moon? It was too much to comprehend. But it happened. It happened because men worked together and they planned together, and as a result, they achieved success.

And I say that that kind of planning and working, that kind of genius, it is not limited to one nation, but that comes from all peoples all over the world, that that kind of genius applied to these enormous problems and these enormous challenges that we see, particularly in Asia.

We can have a period of peace, uninterrupted peace, for a generation. And that can mean the progress that we want for this area and for all the world.

And I just want to say, finally, Mr. President, I came here, as everybody around this table knows, as one who has long been a friend of Pakistan. You were generous to state that while I was Vice President of the United States, I played some role in seeing that the friendship between our two countries remained strong and became stronger.

Now that I am President of the United States, with somewhat more influence than I had as Vice President, I can assure you that I am going to continue to work for a cause that is very close to my heart, the friendship, the friendship between two great peoples, so that we can work together in the solutions of these great problems, work together possibly not in going to the moon or to Mars, although we can participate also in those great ventures in one way or another, but in working together in the equally exciting adventure that I have described, of the future, the future of the hundreds of thousands, yes, I would say millions of children that I have seen on the streets of the cities of Asia over these past 6 days.

And, so, with that, I conclude simply by saying that I am proud to be in this room to respond to this toast in this way, in a country where I have been received so often officially in such a generous way, and when I came as a private citizen in just as hospitable a way.

Mr. President, I ask that all here stand and raise their glasses to the President of Pakistan and to the continuing and increasing friendship between the people of Pakistan and the people of the United States.

Note: The President spoke at approximately 10:30 p.m. at Government House in Lahore in response to the following toast proposed by President A. M. Yahya Khan:

Mr. President, Mrs. Nixon, ladies and gentlemen.

It gives me immense pleasure to extend a most hearty welcome on behalf of the Government, the people of Pakistan, and on my own behalf to an old and esteemed friend of Pakistan, His Excellency, Mr. Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States of America, his charming wife, and the distinguished members of their Party who have come to 'Pakistan.

We recall, with pleasure, your several visits to Pakistan, commencing in 1953 when you were your country's Vice President, and your key role in establishing close, friendly links between our two countries. Your continued interest in Pakistan over the years is reflected in the compliment you paid us by visiting our country several times even when you were no longer in office. Your election last year to the highest public office in the United States was a source of great satisfaction to your friends and admirers, among them Pakistan, and today we are happy to welcome you as a friend, as a world statesman, and as the head of the great United States.

We are glad, Mr. President, that you decided to undertake your present tour and thus afforded us this early opportunity to meet you and some of your distinguished officials for an exchange of views on important questions of the day.

Our discussions today were wide-ranging. They were marked with cordiality and frankness, and I found them very useful. I trust, as a result, both of us understand each other's viewpoint on bilateral, regional, and world affairs a little bit better. We were greatly interested to know how you viewed the current situation in this region, the intraregional problems and the shape of things after, as everyone hopes, peace comes to the troubled land of Vietnam. We are grateful to you, Mr. President, for giving us your assessment.

It is natural that in the course of our discussions we should have covered our bilateral relations. We attach great importance to continued friendly and meaningful relations with the United States.

We are grateful for the generous assistance your country has given us in the past, and your own personal initiative and role, Mr. President, therein is remembered with gratitude and appreciation. We hope that we shall continue to receive this assistance of which in the past we have made excellent use.

As you know so well, we are at a critical stage in our efforts to attain the takeoff stage for self-sustaining economic growth. While endeavoring to sustain a high rate of economic growth, we must insure that progress in the social sector goes hand in hand with economic development and does not lag behind.

With the demands of the social sector being accorded high priority, our main hope for preventing the rate of development from slipping below the rate of population growth lies in the continued adequate availability of aid from friendly countries like the United States.

Mr. President, the world is passing through deeply troubled times. There is hardly a country which is not going through an excruciating self-examination over domestic conflicts or tormented by one aspect or another of the international situation. We, in Pakistan, are convinced that peace is mankind's most urgent need of the day. Nations need peace at home and peace abroad.

As a developing country, we regard peace among nations as the most essential prerequisite of progress. It is out of this conviction that we actively seek, and not merely desire, durable friendly relations with all countries, especially our neighbors.

It is for this reason that we have always been urging that the basic disputes between India and Pakistan be resolved and got out of the way so that the two of us can live in peace and amity and bend all our energies for the betterment of our people.

This also explains our deep concern over the dangerous situation in the Middle East and over the Vietnam conflict. We know, Mr. 'President, how strongly you and your countrymen feel on the peace issue. We earnestly hope that through your policies and your administration's endeavors a way will be found to reduce tensions everywhere and to bring peace to the embattled lands.

Your countrymen have just performed what may be rightly regarded as man's most outstanding feat in science, technology, and high adventure. While sharing your joy and pride in this historic achievement, it is our fervent hope that this feat, and the many further triumphs that await man, will be used solely in the service of man and for peace and prosperity of the human race.

Ladies and gentlemen, I would request you now to join me in a hearty toast to the health and happiness of our distinguished guest, His Excellency, Mr. Richard M. Nixon, President of the United States, and Mrs. Nixon, and to the lasting friendship between Pakistan and the United States.

Richard Nixon, Toasts of the President and President Yahya Khan of Pakistan at a State Dinner in Lahore Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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