Address by President Nelson Mandela at banquet hosted by Minister Nawaz Sharif of Pakistan, Islamabad

4 May 1999

Mr Prime Minister;
Distinguished Guests;
Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are deeply honoured by the invitation to visit your country. I have been overwhelmed, as I was during my visit in 1992, by the friendliness, warmth and hospitality shown to me and my delegation. For this, we sincerely thank you, Mr Prime Minister, His Excellency the President, as well as the Government and the people of Pakistan.

When I last visited Pakistan, South Africa was not yet a democracy. Today we come as representatives of a free people. No longer is our country the pariah of the world.

Ours is a nation which proudly protects the rights of all its people. We are united in working for the fundamental socio-economic changes for all our people that will give substance to our new-found and long-awaited democracy. Steadily but surely we are eating away at the legacy of poverty and inequality created by the oppression and discrimination of the past.

None of this would have been possible without the freedom which was achieved with the support of our friends. During the darkest of times, our struggle was inspired and encouraged by the international community, including the people and government of Pakistan. This visit, provides an opportunity for us to say in person, on behalf of all the people of South Africa: Thank you for sharing our struggle.

Our nations are joined, not only by cultural and religious bonds, but also by common experiences and challenges.

We have both struggled and sacrificed for the ideals of freedom and learned how valuable democracy is.

We are challenged to consolidate and strengthen democratic values and institutions, and to build a society in which the rights of each man, woman and child are sacrosanct.

Today Pakistan and South Africa have the opportunity to work together to eradicate poverty in our own countries and to promote equity in the global arena. To ensure a stable democracy in South Africa and create sustainable development, our renewal must be fuelled by a vibrant economy. The same can be said for Pakistan. The recent establishment of a South African-Pakistan Joint Commission at senior officials level is already a step in the right direction.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and gentlemen,

Economic and social development is impossible without global peace and stability. Democratisation has brought South Africa an historic opportunity to play its rightful role on the world stage for the first time in its history. Our acceptance by the international community coincides with a fundamental reordering of the international order in the wake of the Cold War. In this context, we are fully committed to working for human rights, non- proliferation, disarmament, protection of the environment as well as other issues of human development.

South Africa was proud to host the Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement last year. The Durban Declaration provides the framework for collective action to strengthen South-South co-operation and promote a new and just world order.

As we prepare to enter the new millennium, let us re-dedicate ourselves to the principles of democracy, human rights, peace and the eradication of poverty. Together we have it in our power to improve the quality of life of all our people. South Africa looks forward to working with the Pakistani people in addressing the problems which still beset our global family.

Ladies and Gentlemen

Allow me to conclude by humbly thanking the Pakistani Government and people for your enduring support to and co-operation with our people. I leave Pakistan with fond memories, confident that we have laid the basis for all-round and mutually-beneficial relations.

I ask you all to rise in a toast to the Government and people of Pakistan, and to the flourishing of relations between our two countries.

Khuda-Hafeez (May the Lord be with you).

I thank you.

Issued by the Office of the President

Source: South African Government Information Website