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Toasts of the President and Prime Minister Bhutto of Pakistan

September 18, 1973

Mr. Prime Minister and Mrs. Bhutto and our distinguished guests from Pakistan and the United States:

We are very honored, Mr. Prime Minister, to have you, Mrs. Bhutto, the members of your official party here in this room tonight, and we only regret that the room is so small that all of the friends that you have--and there are legions in this country--could not be here to honor you and to express their friendship for Pakistan and the people of Pakistan.

On this occasion, I would like to speak in somewhat personal terms, since this is essentially a dinner honoring you personally and your wife personally. I think of all of the leaders of great nations that have visited this country since I have had the privilege of being here as President, and in a way I think I have known you longer, although we did not meet at the time, than any other, because in the year 1950, when I was a very young Congressman campaigning for the United States Senate, you were a very young student at the University of California. And so, while we did not meet, we knew each other, in a way.

Much has happened since then. Neither of us would have guessed that in 1953 we would meet again in Pakistan, when you were still very young. You and Mrs. Bhutto had been married only 2 years, and Mrs. Nixon and I were so honored to meet you then at the residence of our Ambassador on our first trip around the world.

In 1964, there was another meeting. I should not really disclose this to such a large group, but this is a group that is so small that a secret can be kept. [Laughter] And in Washington that is saying a very great deal today.

But in 1964, I met Mrs. Bhutto again, at a private party, at which her husband was not present and my wife was not present. [Laughter] I was traveling around the world by myself with a friend on, a business trip, and the Prime Minister was on his official duties traveling abroad.

And then, of course, again we have had the occasion of meeting, particularly just 2 days before the Prime Minister assumed his present duties.

Now, what I have just referred to is not meant to be simply a personal recounting of our association, but is to make a point and it is this: Pakistan and the United States of America have been friends since the time that Pakistan became an independent nation.

I, as an American, sometimes in office and sometimes out--out not at my own choice--[laughter]'--but nevertheless, I can assure you that Pakistan and the people of Pakistan have always been very close to my heart. I admire them, I respect them, as do all of the people, Mr. Prime Minister, in this room, and many others across this Nation. That friendship has lasted through a generation, and it will continue to last. And it will last for reasons that we do not need to go into now, but one of the reasons that appeals to me particularly to mention on this occasion relates to what could have been a total national disaster for your nation, a natural and national disaster of the past few months. I refer to the floods that have been ravaging your country just at a time that with your leadership the nation was moving on after the very difficult and traumatic experience of war.

I asked your wife, Mr. Prime Minister, Mrs. Bhutto, what was the spirit of the people. I said, none of the leaders, none of the members of Parliament, but the peasants, the others, the people that worked the land--were they discouraged, were they giving up after a war and after all of the bloodshed and the tragedy, and now the flood.

And her answer, it seems to me, tells us something about Pakistan and also something about human nature generally that is quite profound.

She said, no, as she visited the areas most ravaged by the floods and talked to the farmers and their wives, they did not talk about the past. They said, yes, the floods had destroyed their crops for this year, but the floods had brought new silt into the land, and the land would be richer for the crops next year.

And so, rather than looking backward, they were looking forward. Rather than letting adversity destroy them, they were proving the profound truth that from adversity grows strength.

And this is the story of Pakistan and of many other countries, including our own, from time to time. Pakistan has had more than its share of adversity in recent years, but out of that adversity has come a strong people, 65 million in numbers, and out of that adversity has come a strong leader, our Prime Minister, who is our guest today, his wife, and the members of his official party.

And in paying our respects to him, to his people, we do so because we have an official obligation to do so which we welcome, but also because of a deep personal respect which I have tried to convey, because of a deep personal friendship which I have tried to convey.

And so I know all of you in this room and many others who could not be here would like to join me in our toast to the friendship between the people of Pakistan and the people of the United States and express that friendship by raising our glasses to the health of the Prime Minister.

Note: The President spoke at 9:56 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House. See also Items 261 and 266.

Prime Minister Bhutto responded as follows:

Mr. President, Mrs. Nixon, distinguished guests, and friends:

Mr. President, you have been most gracious in your remarks, and you have said that this is an intimate gathering of friends. I will proceed from that point.

Since it is an intimate gathering of friends, with your permission, I would like to tell them about our discussions, the inner truth of our talks.

We discussed three matters--economic matters, cultural matters, and military matters. I don't know how, but cultural and military matters got intertwined, perhaps because Dr. Kissinger was there.

And we discussed these highly complicated problems. We were told that since military and cultural matters are interrelated we must know that Jill St. John is booked for the Soviet Union and Raquel Welch is earmarked for China. As far as our old friend Pakistan is concerned, Tallulah Bankhead is there available for Pakistan.

THE PRESIDENT. What do we get?

THE PRIME MINISTER. So we said we are old friends but not in that sense. And then we were told that that is all we can do. And that also is true of either Saudi Arabia or Iran.

So we told our friends candidly that what we are interested in is not obsolete spare parts, but in red hot weapons. [Laughter]

Mr. President, I have been in your great country as a student. You have made mention of it, and my sojourn here was a warm one. It is here that I came to respect the vitality of the people. And I remember that on one occasion in 1949 I was standing outside your White House, this distinguished house resplendent with history, and I was standing by the rails looking at it, its architecture, its beauty, and a Negro friend, a gentleman passing by, stood by as well. And we both had our hands on the railing. He looked at me and asked me from which country I came, and I told him from where I came, and he said that, "If you were an American, what would you like to be?"

So I said, "If I were an American, I would like to be inside that house."

So he told me that, "You better get the hell out of this country because we are going crazy picking the man for the house itself in our own country."

But that is how the past is, and it is remembered vividly. We know that you have been a good friend of our country, not in the subjective sense, because you have known that Pakistan has been a good friend of the United States, and I don't use this word in its chauvinistic sense, in the sense of its past chivalry.

The world has changed, and we must learn to adjust ourselves to the changes.

If you ask me, sir, what we have to offer to your great country, I would tell you candidly, nothing. We are not a nuclear power; we are not a technologically advanced country. There is nothing we can offer in that sense, but there is something which we can offer to you as your friends, and that is that our country stands by its pledges. Our country is dedicated to its principles according to its own light, and we have shown in the existence of Pakistan that in the last 25 years, no matter what the price--and sometimes we have had to pay a very heavy price--but we have stood by our principles and our pledges.

And if there is any place for us in your big wide world, please do remember that, that although you might not need the friendship or the assistance or collaboration of my country far away from yours, it is a country which is allied to your country. It is a country which has stood by its commitments and pledges with your country throughout the vicissitudes and buffets of life, and we have every intention of doing so in the future.

This is our outlook, and this is our conception of our relationship with the United States. We have admired, Mr. President, your own contribution to a new world order, and when the history of this country is written and when the history of the great Presidents of the United States is penned, what will they say of President Nixon?

As far as we are concerned, not only as a Pakistani but as an Asian coming from Asia, I can tell you that at least my history books, the history books of my country, will say here was a great and a lofty President who broke the barriers of prejudice and who chalked out a bold, new policy according to the finest traditions of American history and brought peace to a tormented part of the world.

There will be a stamp on the Vietnam chapter; there will be your mark on your relations with the People's Republic of China; there will be your image and your sign on your relations with the Soviet Union.

To us in Asia, these are very important pillars, and we feel that the world would have been further tormented if you had not taken these splendid initiatives for peace in that part of the world where most of the humanity lives in. And this is not how we alone feel, this is how many of the other countries in Asia feel.

So, history will pay rich and glowing tributes to your statesmanship, not only as an American President but as a world statesman.

When we look on the future in this light, the present trivialities will be brushed aside and a more glorious people dedicated to the cause of eternal peace will emerge. And in that struggle and in that quest, you, Mr. President, will be in the forefront.

This is how we see your role, as the leader of the free world--if that expression is used anymore--as the leader of Western civilization and as a man of peace.

So, ladies and gentlemen, on behalf of my friends from Pakistan, let me salute the American people and their great President for their everlasting contribution to world peace and international tranquillity.

Thank you.

Richard Nixon, Toasts of the President and Prime Minister Bhutto of Pakistan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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