Thank you. Thank you, thank you. Thank you. And it truly is a pleasure to be back here at Embassy Islamabad again. And I want to thank everyone, certainly Cameron and Marilyn for making me feel so welcome, being my hosts for the evening. And I want to thank also the deputy chief of mission as well.
There’s a lot of incredible energy at this mission, and that is in part due to your understanding and commitment, American and Pakistani alike, to the importance of this relationship. You understand you are working at the epicenter of American foreign policy, that you have important jobs to do, and that what you do has deep and wide-ranging consequences.
Now, I know that these past weeks have been especially challenging. Our two countries have hard work ahead of us to improve this relationship. But on behalf of President Obama and myself and our government, we are committed to making that happen.
I had excellent meetings with the leadership of Pakistan as well as civil society and media representatives, and I think there is a joint commitment to try to work through the difficulties that we have encountered. And we have to because we have critical shared priorities. This is not a question of “it would be nice, wouldn’t it?” This is clearly an imperative, that we face a wide range of difficulties, but also opportunities, together. Advancing the Afghan peace process; taking on the remnants of al-Qaida, the Taliban, the Haqqani Network, those require Pakistan’s active cooperation, and I think we had a very good set of discussions about what kind of work we need to be doing together.
We also have to continue the other essential work that you are doing, from providing flood relief to rebuilding bridges to making electricity accessible to distributing wheat and vegetable seeds and helping half a million farming families get back on their feet. Moving toward a stable self-sufficient Pakistan, governed by democratic and civilian-led institutions able to provide jobs and opportunities for the Pakistani people, is our shared goal. So I can’t thank you enough. And I extend that appreciation to the entire American team here, civilian and military, representatives not only of State and USAID but the multiplicity of agencies represented here.
And certainly, I want to say a special word of thanks to our Pakistani colleagues. I know that sometimes you and your families come under intense pressure because you work with us. I know that terror attacks have destabilized your communities and claimed thousands of innocent lives. And some of you have even been harassed simply because you work at our Embassy or our consulate. But I want you to know how grateful we are, and I also want you to know that we truly believe that you are in the forefront of forging a relationship between not only our two countries but our two peoples that is very much in the interests of both.