U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Anne Patterson, commemorates the delivery of the first three of 18 new F-16 aircraft to the Government of Pakistan in a speech during today’s induction ceremony at Shahbaz Air Base near Jacobabad, Pakistan.
ISLAMABAD (June 27, 2010) – During an induction ceremony held today at Shahbaz Air Base near Jacobabad, Pakistan, U.S. and Pakistani officials commemorated the delivery of the first three of 18 new F-16 aircraft to the Government of Pakistan from the United States.
The full text of U.S. Ambassador Anne Patterson’s speech as prepared for delivery follows below:
I am very pleased to be here today at Shahbaz Air Base with all of you on yet another important date for the Pakistani – U.S. relationship.
Our two countries today share a deep and broad partnership, which is growing to encompass nearly every element of government-to-government cooperation. Under the Strategic Dialogue established by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi, our two nations are working together on economic development, trade and energy, on health care and education, on science, technology and agriculture. Our governments share a vision of partnership today which is unprecedented in the history of our bilateral relationship. It both reflects America’s long-term commitment to Pakistan as an important ally and partner and is a testament to the shared vision of our democratically elected governments.
An important element of our relationship is our strong and growing security partnership, through which our two countries are working to make this region secure, stable and peaceful.
Four years ago, the United States and the Government of Pakistan signed a Letter of Agreement for the acquisition by Pakistan of 18 new F-16 aircraft to support this country’s counterterrorism efforts. I am glad to be here today to witness the induction of the first three of these aircraft into the Pakistan Air Force in an event which begins yet another cycle of fulfillment in America’s commitments to Pakistan. The induction of these advanced F-16s is a historic milestone for U.S.-Pakistan relations – both a symbolic and a tangible demonstration of our strong partnership and the U.S. intent to stand beside Pakistan over the long-term as an important ally and friend.
Our commitment does not end with the delivery of these aircraft. The United States will continue to support the Pakistan Air Force through training and munitions procurement, and through updates to the 45 F-16s in the Pakistan Air Force’s existing fleet.
Air Chief Marshal Suleman, these advanced fighters are enormously significant tools. They have remarkable capabilities to protect your people and your nation against the extremists who wish to harm them. We know that you and the Pakistan Air Force have been preparing for some time to receive these weapons – and we have been impressed by the skills of your pilots as they have prepared to fly them in defense of Pakistan.
But Americans know that extraordinarily powerful weapons alone cannot strengthen this or any other nation. The strength of our economies and our institutions and our people also are key elements of national power. Today as we look at these outstanding examples of American high technology military technology, we are also making another commitment to Pakistan, and specifically to the people in the Jacobabad District, which is near to this air base.
Our civilian assistance programs are already working in Jacobabad to fight polio, train health workers and conduct public information campaigns. Yet we want to do more. Today, after this ceremony, I will hand over to Dr. Kazim Jatoi and the Jacobabad Civil Hospital some medical equipment to symbolize this commitment. The donation includes four digital fetal heart monitors, an extensive set of new surgical tools, and a high-capacity autoclave, which will help hospital staff safely deliver Jacobabad’s babies, ensure good quality surgical outcomes, and properly sterilize equipment and supplies to reduce the chances of infection among hospital patients.
In the future, we intend to work with Jacobabad District Headquarters Hospital, which serves a population of about one million people. For the next several months, our USAID staff will work with the hospital on basic improvements and develop a renovation and equipment program that I hope will be underway even as the next series of F-16s arrive at this base.
In addition, the U.S. intends to work with Jacobabad officials on the water supply and wastewater collection systems in this district that will allow more water to be delivered to more households and connect more people to the wastewater collection system.
Ladies and gentlemen, today is another great day for the Pakistan – U.S. relationship. Today we can see, here at the Shahbaz Air Base, in nearby Jacobabad and increasingly across this country, Pakistanis and Americans working together to build the better world we all aspire to leave as our legacy. America’s offer of a long-term partnership with Pakistan is tangible here today and it is our hope that this partnership will deliver our common goals of security and prosperity, in this region and throughout the world.