Image Credit: Ramachandra Babu/©Gulf News

The 71st anniversary of Pakistan’s independence is an extraordinary moment in the history of the world. The recent peaceful election of leaders who will form a new Pakistani government promotes civility and the rule of law and naturally kindles hope for the future. As the world’s sixth most populous country, occupying one of the most strategically important locations on earth, Pakistan is an influential global leader.

One has only to know (the country’s diaspora) to understand the enormous potential of Pakistan. You have impressed the global population of the UAE with your skills, your competence, your entrepreneurial spirit, your civic responsibility, your allegiance to sound moral values, and your ability to succeed in a global economy. You signal the potential of 200 million other Pakistani people, and that potential is breathtaking.

In this Year of Zayed, we are recalling the bold actions of our nation’s founder, the late Shaikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan. He was a leader dedicated to the ideals of tolerance, compassion and dialogue. He was able to welcome the world fearlessly to the new nation of the UAE. His welcoming Arab tent shielded us all, irrespective of culture, nationality, religion, gender, ethnicity or economic status. He valued people for their competence, their energy, their fortitude, their creativity and their moral strength. His wise tolerance enabled the rapid development of the country. You have shared in and contributed to the prosperity and well-being that marks the UAE. Our country is grateful to you and your predecessors. The UAE is proud to count the Islamic Republic of Pakistan as a great friend. Our friendship is here to stay.

His Highness the President, Shaikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and the entire Leadership of the UAE look to history for guidance into the future. They look naturally to the example of Shaikh Zayed and of other great leaders such as Pakistan’s remarkable founder, Quaid-i-Azam (Great Leader) Mohammad Ali Jinnah. In the convictions of Jinnah, they doubtlessly find support for their high regard for tolerance. Just three days before Pakistan obtained its independence 71 years ago, Jinnah addressed the country’s new constituent assembly in Karachi. These are his inspiring words:

“You are free; you are free to go to your temples, you are free to go to your mosques or to any other place of worship in this State of Pakistan ... You may belong to any religion or caste or creed — that has nothing to do with the business of the State ... I think we should keep that in front of us as our ideal and you will find that in course of time Hindus would cease to be Hindus and Muslims would cease to be Muslims, not in the religious sense, because that is the personal faith of each individual, but in the political sense as citizens of the State.”

I am sure that we can all agree with both Shaikh Zayed and Mohammad Ali Jinnah that the exercise of tolerance is instrumental to the proper functioning of a civil society. We must simply respect and seek to understand people different from ourselves. We are certainly capable of engaging in difference because we are, each one of us, different from each other even within our own families and our own local community. We respect and seek to understand those differences every day. For the sake of global peace, we must apply our tolerance on a grand scale within the inevitably diverse populations in which we live.

It was an overwhelming tragedy that Quaid-i-Azam did not live to lead his country. It was the good fortune of the UAE that Shaikh Zayed lived to lead us through our first 33 years. But today, in 2018, both Pakistan and the UAE can find strength in a friendship based on shared values. They are values found in our shared religion. They are values shared by people all around the world who respect one another and treat other people as they themselves wish to be treated. They are values that give our world a degree of security that all the armies in the world cannot provide. They are values exemplified by citizens of Pakistan (here) who enrich the society in the UAE. They are values that I have experienced first-hand in my many visits to Pakistan. They are values that unite and strengthen us — both an independent UAE and an independent Pakistan. Long live Pakistan. Long live the UAE. And long live the strong relations of friendship and brotherhood between our two countries.

Shaikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan had delivered this speech at the Pakistan Independence Day ceremony organised by the Pakistan Embassy and the Pakistan Association in Dubai on August 14.