Honourable Minister of Economy, His Excellency Dr. Muhammad Jalil Shams,
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a matter of great honour and pleasure for me to welcome you to the Pakistan Day reception. On behalf of my Embassy, and on my own behalf, I wish to convey our deep gratitude for your presence here this evening.
Pakistan and Afghanistan share deep-rooted bonds of history, culture, geography and faith. Our customs, languages, literature and heroes are all common. Also, we have a common vision of peace, prosperity and development of our peoples and the region.
Our destinies are indivisibly linked.
Pakistan is deeply committed to improving ties with Afghanistan . We believe our two countries can build a lasting partnership based on the principles of non-interference and respect for each other's sovereignty and territorial integrity. We are committed to removing misunderstandings of the past and nurture an atmosphere of trust and confidence.
With the signing of the landmark joint Declaration on Directions of Bilateral Cooperation on 6 th January 2009 , we have turned a new page in our bilateral relations. This Declaration is a roadmap that would take our bilateral relations to a bright and promising future. It is also a manifestation of the aspirations and determination of our two peoples for a better, peaceful and prosperous tomorrow.
Pakistan will be hosting the 3 rd Regional Economic Cooperation Conference on Afghanistan (RECCA) in mid May 2009. Pakistan and Afghanistan will jointly present proposals for high impact, achievable projects. This event, we hope, will prove to be a milestone in assisting Afghanistan in its developmental efforts and forging greater regional cooperation.
We need to increase our cooperation to effectively deal with the scourge of terrorism and extremism. It is not only destroying the fabric of our societies but also poses a threat to peace and stability in the entire region.
Terrorism is against the spirit and essence of our glorious faith, Islam. It is a regional phenomenon. We are determined to reverse the tide of terrorism. We are combating it, with determination, for the sake of our future generations.
An important area of bilateral cooperation, which we need to explore, is capacity building in Afghanistan . Pakistani civilian and military training institutions and higher educational institutions can absorb participants from Afghanistan . It is comparatively easier for an Afghan brother or sister to live in Pakistan than any other country as there are over two and a half million Afghans already living in Pakistan.
Also, some 50 thousand people, overwhelmingly Afghan citizens, cross the international border with Pakistan everyday. This is the kind of interaction that no two other countries have in the world.
Thank you very much, ladies and gentleman for celebrating our National Day with us. I particularly thank our chief guest, His Excellency Dr. Muhammad Jalil Shams, for gracing this occasion and invite him to address us.