ISLAMABAD (APP):Ambassador of Pakistan to the United Arab Emirate (UAE) Moazzam Ahmad Khan paid tributes to late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the UAE’s founding father, saying that he was a great friend and benefactor of Pakistan.

“Sheikh Zayed always considered Pakistan his second home. His love and affinity for Pakistanis, his benevolence and kindness, are now the stuff of legends. Till this day he rules our hearts and minds,” he said in his speech at a reception to mark Pakistan’s 78th National Day, a message received here from Abu Dhabi said.

The ambassador said, “It is a happy coincidence that we are celebrating our National Day in the Year of Zayed. Pakistan is very much a part of his legacy, as he is part of ours.”

His vision of fraternity and tolerance, of development and social welfare carry pertinent lessons for today, he added.

Pakistan’s embassy has also organised a small exhibition as a mark of love and deep appreciation for the role Sheikh Zayed played in harnessing this extraordinary relationship between our two countries, he continued.

The momentum initiated by Sheikh Zayed has been sustained under the current leadership of President Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, and Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces.

“We pray for their long life, health and happiness. Today, we not only pay tribute to our founding fathers but also recognise our friends who have always been a source of strength and support for us.

I count the UAE among the foremost of Pakistan’s friends and partners. Right from its inception in 1971, the UAE has stood by Pakistan in good and bad times. It is our largest trading partner in the MENA region, a leading source of foreign direct investment (FDI), a significant employment and investment destination as well as an important development partner.

I am very pleased to inform you that as a special gesture of its commitment to the longstanding friendship and brotherhood with Pakistan, the government of the UAE has decided to send a big contingent of its armed forces to participate in our National Day parade this year. We feel honoured to have these special guests on our soil.

On this very special day, let me also reaffirm that in Pakistan and in all Pakistanis, the people and the government of UAE will always find sincere friends, partners and supporters. Pakistan attaches great importance to the peace, security, stability and continued prosperity of the UAE. We wish to see the UAE continue to scale greater heights, shatter more barriers, and cross more threshold.

This relationship of trust and affection between our two nations is grounded in age-old bonds of history and heritage, culture and civilisation, community and common purpose. I sincerely hope, that while building on this proud legacy, our two people would continue to strive for progress, prosperity and stability of both the UAE and Pakistan,” he concluded.

The reception was attended by Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister for Tolerance, Dr Maitha bint Salem Al Shamsi, Minister of State, Sheikh Mohammed bin Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Mohammed Ali Omran Al Shamsi, Director of Diplomats Affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, along with a number of officials, heads of Arab and foreign diplomatic missions accredited to the state, and members of the Pakistani community in the country.