Islamabad: July 16, 1989
We welcome Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi, Madam Sonia Gandhi and the members of their delegation.
Mr. Prime Minister, this is the first official visit to Pakistan by an Indian Prime Minister since 1960. Your illustrious grandfather, Pandit Jawaharlal Nehru, whose birth centenary India is celebrating this year, was our honoured guest on that occasion. During that visit, India and Pakistan signed the Indus Waters Treaty which equitably settled the complex and volatile issue of sharing of the river waters of the Indus Basin. That treaty has stood us in good stead over the past 29 years and we should preserve its sanctity.
The last bilateral visit to India by a Pakistani Prime Minister was that of Shaheed Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in 1972 to sign the Simla Agreement. I had the privilege of. accompanying him on that occasion. Despite the difficult circumstances prevailing at that time, it became possible to sign an agreement because both Pakistan and India had resolved to put an end to conflict and confrontation, to promote friendly and harmonious relations and to work for the establishment of a durable peace in the subcontinent. The Simla Agreement has ensured peace between our two nations over the last 17 years. We should ensure that the Simla Agreement is implemented in letter and in spirit.
Mr. Prime Minister, six months ago, we had the pleasure of welcoming you and Madam Gandhi on the occasion of the SAARC Summit. That visit provided us with an opportunity to have in-depth discussions on our bilateral relations. Three bilateral agreements were also signed on that occasion. Since that meeting, many exchanges at official level have taken place and good progress has been made at these meetings. The Pakistan-India Joint Commission is to meet now to finalize proposals which would go a long way to increase people to people contacts and cooperation in the cultural, commercial and other fields. We hope that these efforts will contribute to a more meaningful relationship between our two countries based on equality and mutual benefit.
A wind of change is now blowing across the globe. Cooperation is replacing confrontation. The Super Powers have agreed to cut down their nuclear arsenals and in our neighbour hood momentous changes have taken place. The Soviet Union has withdrawn its troops from Afghanistan. We hope that soon a broad-based government acceptable to the Afghan people would be established there. China and the Soviet Union have taken significant steps towards improvement of relations.
At a time like this, when nations with traditional hostility are moving towards peace and friendship, we must ensure that in our region peace and amity do not become hostage to narrow national considerations. We owe it to our people to safeguard peace and security so that they can devote their energies and resources towards development. We should ensure that South Asia remains free of nuclear weapons. Pakistan is ready to join any arrangement which can guarantee non-proliferation of nuclear weapons in South Asia. We would also like to prevent an arms race in our region and to encourage arms control talks.
Mr. Prime Minister, we can proudly claim that in our own region we have taken some significant steps for the establishment of peace and the promotion of co-operation. The South Asian Association for Regional Co-operation is one such step. In the last four years, our Association has made more progress than any other comparable regional organization. We have to conserve and consolidate our gains. One-fifth of humanity lives in the South Asian sub-continent. They are also amongst the poorest in the world. Our people want progress, development and better quality of life. Through SAARC, we can provide it to them. Unfortunately, SAARC is today faced with a crisis. We have to make individual and joint efforts not to allow any harm to come to this organization.
Mr. Prime Minister, distinguished guests!
Pakistan and India have a shared history. Our people face similar problems and have the same aspirations. Our people want friendship and not hostility. We, in Pakistan, have waged a long struggle against the dark night of dictatorship. We, therefore, have a deep commitment to freedom, to democracy and to peace. We are committed to abide by the Simla Agreement and we wish to conduct our bilateral relations in accordance with the letter and spirit of the Simla Agreement. In December last year, we initiated a new phase in our relationship-a phase in which we would try and get our countries out of the mire of mutual mistrust and suspicion; a phase in which to build our relations based on the principles of equality and respect for each other's internal affairs. We would like to renew our commitment to these principles.
I request all of you to join me in a toast to the health and happiness of His Excellency Mr. Rajiv Gandhi and Madam Sonia Gandhi, and to the progress and prosperity of the peoples of Pakistan and India.