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Toasts at the State Dinner for Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan

June 06, 1989

The President. Prime Minister Bhutto, Mr. Zardari, it's a great pleasure and an honor for Barbara and me to welcome you to the United States and to the White House. I also want to welcome a third honored guest not here tonight, the master, Bilawal Zardari. [Laughter] He's 9 months old. He had to go to bed early, so he couldn't come to the White House. And we're all heartbroken, but I hope he's having a good time in the United States.

Madam Prime Minister, I've had many years of dealings with the Pakistani people, and always I've marveled at that blend of warmth and kindness best embodied in your phrase, Zindabad -- "Long live the friendship." And this evening it is my great pleasure to return that friendship and to say what a privilege it is to salute a woman whose reputation for eloquence and intelligence and courage is all here -- we'll see in a moment -- is eminently well-deserved. And in that context, I should note how one observer said that it was an asset to today's talks that the leaders of both our countries are fluent in the same tongue. [Laughter] That was very nice. Fluency in English is something that I'm often not accused of. [Laughter]

But we've just concluded a round of very frank discussions -- meaningful. And I don't mean it in the diplomatic sense, the U.N. sense, that we used to talk about, but meaningful discussions on a matter of traditional importance. And I think it's a fair characterization to say that the Prime Minister has flatly refused my latest offer: She's not going double or nothing on this year's Harvard-Yale game. [Laughter]

What we did, though, agree to was the steadfast conviction that the cooperation between our countries will grow stronger by the year and to address regional and international issues in the spirit of our shared commitment to liberty, individuality, and democratic ideals. And as you know, I have just returned from Europe, where those ideals strengthen the already close ties between America and her European allies. And that same commitment to democracy joins Pakistan and America as we move towards a more stable and prosperous Asia.

We also talked at length about the plague of drug abuse which afflicts both America and Pakistan. And neither country can afford to allow the scourge of drugs to continue. And throughout our talks we reaffirmed the values which bind us, bind the United States and Pakistan -- values of faith and family and the dignity of work. And we pledge to continue our work together to bring peace and freedom to Afghanistan, stability to all of south Asia.

Madam Prime Minister, our goals are great goals, worthy goals. And together our countries have already done much. And in particular, let me simply salute your role in Pakistan's return to democracy. It was the great Pakistani poet-philosopher Muhammad Iqbal who once observed, simply, "Love is freedom and honor." And, Madam Prime Minister, your entire life shows the meaning of those words. And in that spirit, I ask all of us here tonight, all our guests, to rise and raise their glasses to Pakistan-American friendship; to a safer world for your son and for all children; and to your health and what you symbolize, both for Pakistan and for the rest of the world. God bless you, and good luck.

The Prime Minister. Thank you. I thank you, Mr. President, for the warm and gracious words that you have spoken about Pakistan and about me, personally. We hold you in high esteem because of your exceptional experience in world affairs, the moderation of your approach to the problems facing mankind, and the wisdom and moral quality of your statesmanship.

It is an honor for me to be in this world capital of freedom, in this historic room as the elected leader of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan. Yet standing here before you, I cannot help but remember the darker days, the days of dictatorship. I feel gratified that our faith, our determination, and our commitment to the universal principles of human dignity and freedom sustained us to this glorious evening, to this glorious day.

Mr. President, I stand with the leader of the world's greatest democracy. I look forward to a new partnership between your country and mine, with democracy giving a fresh dimension to our relationship. Pakistan and the United States have been friends of longstanding. With the triumph of democracy, the relationship is now at the threshold of a new vitality.

This springs from the reservoir of good will that has been nourished by our sustained joint endeavor in support of a worthy cause in Afghanistan: the cause of freedom. We look forward to the day when real peace and stability will return to Afghanistan, when power is transferred to a genuinely representative government. This will allow millions of refugees who have sought sanctuary in Pakistan to return to their homes in honor and dignity.

We now need to look at broader horizons. The people of Pakistan seek peace and stability in their region and a world free of tensions. We would like to see mankind progress and prosper. Pakistan would like to strengthen its friendship with the United States, which shares these objectives.

We have come here with new priorities, Mr. President, new priorities to take our nation and our people into the 21st century. We have come to enrich our friendship and strengthen the partnership between our two nations. Mr. President, I wonder whether you know -- I didn't until very recently -- that we have something in common. We are born, apparently, under the same star. And when I was in Pakistan and the government had just been formed, we weren't allowed much of a political honeymoon by the press. I believe you weren't allowed much of a political honeymoon, either. But I'm glad to know that your trip to Europe in connection with NATO was a big success, because if you've had a successful trip, I must have one, too.

Ladies and gentlemen, I studied at Harvard, and believe me, I didn't know until tonight that Yale ever produced charming men. I'm glad I met the only one. [Laughter]

May I now request you to join me in a toast to the health of the President of the United States and Mrs. Bush, to the strength and prosperity of America and friendship between our people.

Note: The President spoke at 10:16 p.m. in the State Dining Room at the White House.

George Bush, Toasts at the State Dinner for Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto of Pakistan Online by Gerhard Peters and John T. Woolley, The American Presidency Project

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