Mr President, can I say how very grateful my wife and I are for this wonderful banquet and for the warm and generous hospitality which you and the Prime Minister have shown us during our visit to Pakistan.
As I mentioned to you during our meeting on Monday, Mr President, I have wanted to visit your country for a great many years and am delighted at last to have achieved that ambition.
More than anything else, I wanted to be able to set the relationship between Britain and Pakistan in its proper context, as Commonwealth partners; to travel beyond Islamabad and to see something of life in your other great cities and in rural communities.
My wife and I were particularly pleased to have visited the village of Pattika this afternoon, where so many lives were lost - so many families torn apart - in the terrible earthquake just over a year ago. Of that tragedy, the image I will retain is not one of destruction – appalling though it was – but one of the World uniting in support of Pakistan, across religious and ethnic boundaries. It gives me great pride that Britain has played – and continues to play – an important role in helping those communities to rebuild their lives – and, indeed, that so many British citizens with their roots in Pakistan have provided such wonderfully generous assistance. I know I speak for us both when I say that my wife and I were so moved - and humbled - by the extraordinary resilience of everyone we met this afternoon.
May I say that this is just one area in which Britain and Pakistan are working together to great effect …
We stand shoulder-to-shoulder in combatting extremist threats to international peace and stability. Our Armed Forces are carrying out an incredibly difficult and dangerous task – often involving terrible sacrifice. They are working, Mr President, not just in the interests of our two Nations, but of all Nations and we can take enormous pride in them.
Our relationship does not, of course, lack other challenges. They may not regularly capture the headlines. But they are no less important for that, whether it be a question of helping young people to realize their full potential or in protecting the environment. On Monday I was delighted that the Prime Minister and I were able to launch a new initiative – based on the model of my Prince’s Trust – to give bright, but disadvantaged young people the commercial expertize and finance they need to launch their own businesses. Given the enormity of Pakistan’s other concerns, environmental issues – in which I include future energy security - may seem low priorities. But, as the history of so many countries – including my own – make clear, they are priorities which we cannot afford to push into the middle distance.
May I just say, as the Sixtieth Anniversary of Independence approaches, how deeply impressed I have been by the statesmanship and determination shown by you, Mr President, and by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, to put an end to years of confrontation and suspicion. You deserve our strongest support in your vital efforts to resolve disputes between Pakistan and India, so that these two great Commonwealth countries can live in peace and harmony with each other.
To return to our bilateral relationship, Mr President, can I conclude by saying that the challenges we face may seem daunting. But one thing is abundantly clear: the closeness of our partnership equips us supremely well to respond to them.