On behalf of President Obama and the people of the United States, I congratulate the people of Pakistan as you mark your National Day on March 23rd. Almost seventy years ago, men who would become the Founding Fathers of Pakistan met in Lahore and helped shape the birth of your nation.
Pakistan is close to my heart, and I have been privileged to make five visits over the years. And I have seen firsthand how special your country is -- rich with history and culture, blessed with natural beauty, and home to people of unforgettable warmth and strength.
This week I am honored to welcome Foreign Minister Qureshi and other Pakistani officials to Washington for our first Ministerial-level U.S.-Pakistan Strategic Dialogue. The United States is supporting Pakistan's efforts to strengthen democratic institutions, foster economic development, expand opportunity, and defeat the extremist groups who threaten Pakistan, the region, and even our own country. Our broad partnership is based on mutual respect and mutual interest, and this dialogue will be an opportunity to forge even closer ties between our nations.
Today, your country is suffering from terrorism and your security forces and civilians are making great sacrifices to fight extremists. The people of the United States will stand by and support Pakistani efforts to build a peaceful and prosperous future. We wish you a happy Pakistan Day.