Excellencies, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
Assalam-o-Alaikum and a very good evening
It is my great honour and pleasure to welcome you all at the Embassy of Pakistan.
Today, we are celebrating the National Day of Pakistan.
We are grateful and happy for the presence of representatives from the diplomatic corps, officials of the US government, and members of Pakistani American community who have joined us to mark this important day in our national history.
I particularly wish to recognize the presence of Congressman Mark Meadows and Undersecretary Patrick Kennedy from the State Department.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The National Day of Pakistan is celebrated on 23rd March every year to commemorate the Pakistan Resolution adopted in 1940 in Lahore.
It envisaged a separate homeland for Muslims in South Asia.
Within a short span of seven years after passing of the Resolution, a sovereign Islamic Republic appeared on the world map on 14th August 1947.
It was indeed a heroic accomplishment brought about by the democratic struggle of Muslims of South Asia.
Our founding fathers had resolved to create an independent democratic state, where constitutionalism and rule of law would reign supreme.
It is because of this democratic essence of our genesis that we share common values with the United States.
Pakistan is both our identity and destiny.
In its 69 years, Pakistani nation has witnessed many challenges and measured up to each one with resilience, resolve and pride.
Each time we have emerged stronger as a nation.
Let me share some important developments related to Pakistan and our relationship with the United States with this distinguished gathering.
Our resilient and critical relationship has been further bolstered by sustained frequency of multi-tiered engagements including engagement at the highest level.
The visit of the Prime Minister to Washington in October, 2015 infused a fresh spirit in the relationship.
The visit reinforced the commitment of both countries to an enduring U.S.-Pakistan partnership, a prosperous Pakistan, and a more stable region.
Pursuing the vision of the leadership of our two countries, we concluded the sixth Ministerial Review session of the Strategic Dialogue process last month.
The Dialogue reaffirmed that a robust, long-term bilateral relationship based on mutual respect and mutual interest remains critical to regional and international security and prosperity.
It is gratifying to note that the partnership between our two countries has seen progress in all areas of interaction including trade, economy, investment, energy, defence, counter-terrorism and people-to-people contacts.
The “U.S.-Pakistan Knowledge Corridor” is an important initiative geared to expanding U.S.-Pakistan education cooperation and strengthening Pakistan’s education system, which serve as engines of economic growth and prosperity.
Pakistan and United States share a common desire to add greater substance and depth to our relationship make it people-centered.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
There have been positive developments back home since we last met to commemorate this day.
Pakistan today is a country that exudes confidence and is brimming with promise.
The democratic institutions and traditions have consolidated and taken a deep root, Parliament is sovereign, judiciary independent, media free and civil society vibrant.
The successes achieved in the military operations against terrorists enjoy complete national and political consensus.
The Operation Zarb-e-Azb is in its final stages and the rehabilitation and reconstruction work in FATA is underway.
Internationally acclaimed success in dismantling the terrorist infrastructure and more importantly defeating extremism as an ideology is a testament to the progressive, moderate and resilient credentials of the people of Pakistan.
Unrelenting efforts to achieve a peaceful neighbourhood is a cardinal principle of Pakistan’s foreign policy.
We firmly believe that peace is vital for development and development is vital for durable peace.
Adhering to these principles, Pakistan remains committed to strengthening and improving relations with all its neighbours and regional countries, as well as promoting regional cooperation and connectivity.
Pakistan hosted the 2015 Heart of Asia Conference, which was aimed at bolstering regional cooperation.
Our policy of peaceful neighborhood has brought us closer to India and Afghanistan. The visit of Prime Minister Modi to Lahore and visit of our cricket team to India are developments, which give us hope for a friendly and peaceful neighborhood.
Similarly, Pakistan remains committed to facilitating an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned peace and reconciliation process.
Our sustained and sincere efforts to bring peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan, joined by United States and China from the platform of the Quadrilateral Coordination Group (QCG) constitute a case in point.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me conclude by acknowledging the role of the Pakistani American community.
It certainly constitutes a source of pride and has made valuable contribution in pursuit of our common objectives.
The critical role of the Pakistani American community and their contributions in strengthening the bilateral relationship were acknowledged at the highest level by our two leaders in Oct, 2015.
In order to reinforce our efforts to synergize the community’s efforts the Embassy will convene the third annual Convention of the Pakistani American community (CPAC-2016) in Fall.
I am confident CPAC will serve as a central platform to and a driving force to achieve our goal of a stronger Pak-U.S. relationship.
March 23, 2016