Pakistan’s president Zia, U.S. ambassador die in plane crash – Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, Arnold L. Raphel, George Shultz and John C. Whitehead address

Pakistan’s president Zia, U.S. ambassador die in plane crash – Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, Arnold L. Raphel, George Shultz and John C. Whitehead address – transcript

President Mohammad Zia ul-Haq, U.S. Ambassador to Pakistan Arnold L. Raphel, Brig. Gen. Herbert M. Wassom (head of” the Military Assistance Advisory Group at the U.S. Embassy in Islamabad), and 27 others died August 17, 1988, when President Zia’s plane exploded minutes after taking off in eastern Pakistan.

Following are a statement by Secretary Shultz made in Islamabad where he represented the United States at President Zia’s .funeral, his remarks at the memorial ceremony ,for Ambassador Raphel at Andrews Air Force Base, and Acting Secretary Whitehead’s remarks at the funeral service .for the Ambassador



My delegation and I have just had a very good meeting witb Acting President Ghulam Ishaq Khan. I conveyed to him, on behalf of the President and the American people, our profound sorrow over the tragic death of President Zia ul-Haq and those who died with him.

President Zia was a strong and principled leader, who earned the admiration of the world. He was a steadfast defender of Pakistan’s territorial integrity and freedom, who yearned for peace in this troubled region. He was a tireless promoter of regional cooperation whose promise is evident in the South Asian Regional Cooperation Council. He was a magnanimous benefactor to the Afghans, whose quest for independence he never ceased to champion.

We mourn our own loss as well. Ambassador Raphel and Brig. Gen. Wassom were skillful and devoted Americans-public servants who worked tirelessly to build and strengthen relations between our two countries.

This tragic incident shocked Pakistan and the world. Pakistan’s leaders have reacted calmly and quickly to preserve the continuity of constitutional government and to reaffirm that elections will be held in November. We expressed the admiration of all Americans for the wise manner in which Pakistan’s Government has responded to this trial and for the patience, strength, steadiness, and determination of the Pakistani people.



Mrs. Raphel, Mrs. Wassom, your families and friends; last Thursday night, from this spot, I took off in this U.S. Air Force jet for Islamabad, Pakistan. There, yesterday, I stood in an open field next to a mosque to extend our country’s honor to a fallen friend, President Zia ul-Haq of Pakistan.

Today I stand here again, as a guardian in your stead, to return to you beneath our Stars and Stripes two of our best, Arnold Raphel and Herbert Wassom. Arnie and Herb. Over there, Ambassador and General. To us they will always be Arnie and Herb.

Why were they over there? Why? They were over there because of big words: liberty, freedom, justice, security, prosperity, peace. We hear these words all the time; maybe sometimes we’ve taken them for granted. I can tell you that most people around the world do not take them for granted. They lack them; they want them; they’ll fight for them, as the Afghan people, with President Zia behind them, have been fighting and winning.

Arnie and Herb went halfway around the world to join the fight for these great causes, not just for others but for America. If we do not work to shape a world of freedom, peace, prosperity, and justice, then here at home those principles will be endangered and could be lost.

So yesterday, halfway around the world in Pakistan, I saw people far different from ourselves moved to tears by America’s-and Arnie and Herb’s-dedication to these causes.

An Ambassador A General. As individuals they were strong, energetic, dedicated, and they had that bright, light, endless American optimism and humor. As professionals and patriots, they were committed to the inseparable principles needed for success: a readiness to engage with others diplomatically to reach agreement and a readiness to employ strength in the interests of a safer world. We must keep our effort going to engage the world out there.

Here they are, Arnie and Herb, your sons. The world is a better place and your country is better off and safer because of their sacrifice. In far off lands, people know this. I want you to know it, too. Be proud of them. Never lose heart. There is so much more to do. Be proud to engage, as they have, in the spirit of America.



In the State Department lobby, just inside the C Street entrance, there are two large plaques, where the names of ambassadors and others who have died while serving their country are inscribed. It is a grim list, but a proud list, too; a list of those who defended peace and freedom to the very end. And now today there will be added to that list the name of Arnold Raphel.

Last Friday I participated in the swearing-in ceremony of John McCarthy as our new Ambassador to Lebanon. In a few days, he will depart for service in tbat troubled land. John was Arnie’s deputy in Islamabad. In his brief remarks at the ceremony, he introduced his wife and his children and then he said, “During the past week, we have lost a very dear member of our family.” For a brief moment I didn’t know what he meant, but then, of course, I quickly realized that he meant Arnie. And I thought how much of a family the Foreign Service really is, including those of us fortunate enough to serve with it for a short time: loyal to each other, proud of each other’s accomplishments, mutually supportive, eager to see its standards and traditions maintained. Arnie was one of the leaders of our family, highly respected and dearly loved.

On the seventh floor at the State Department, Arnie will be warmly remembered as the guy who’d show up first at a meeting, rarely waiting to be announced, and with his shirt sleeves rolled up. He was always out ahead of others, eager to get started, quick to catch you in the corridor. He relished wrestling with the issues and was ready with the paper sometimes even before you knew you needed it.

He was quick to identify the trends, anticipate the likely outcome, and work the problem. In short, he was a senior policymaker’s delight, a man of incisive thought and of decisive action.

Arnie was never motivated by garnering personal prestige but by a deep sense of public purpose. He was not a man to be awed by rank or power. But he did hold one thing in unshakeable reverence-his country. And although he often referred to the ways of the Foreign Service with a winning irreverence, there was no more fiercely loyal a supporter of the Foreign Service than Arnie Raphel. He loved his work and his country, and he was grateful for the opportunity the Department offered him to serve it.

And serve it he did. His outstanding work led directly to the achievement of the Afghanistan peace accords. The hostages in Iran owe their freedom in large part to Arnie, as indeed do the hostages from hijacked TWA #847.

Arnie was also an energetic recruiter and cultivator of new talent. He was a builder of bureaus, a mover and shaker-upper of the personnel office. He sought out the very best people. Perhaps his most lasting achievement among the many is the fact that, thanks to him, the State Department now has a veritable army of his fine young officers just as eager to serve as he was. He was a great advocate for the people who served with him in Washington and overseas. The life he knew and shared with these dedicated men and women was no tea party. His world was not the world of the proverbial crisp, pin-striped cocktail party diplomat, for he knew the hardships and the dangers our people endure for service’s sake, particularly those who are abroad.

In closing, let me share a smile with you from Arnie. His colleagues in the Bureau of Near Eastern and South Asian Affairs (NEA) saved a postcard that he and Nancy sent to the front office staff just over a year ago. On the front is a picture of a beautiful lake in Pakistan. Snow-covered mountains plunge into the lake’s azure expanse and a small boat floats peacefully in the center. The NEA staff saved the card all this time because the wry message written on the back is “pure Arnie.”

It says: “Here is a picture of our embassy gunboat providing escort services on a vital sea route in the region. Notice the absence of enemy assetsit’s tough out here on the front lines, but someone has to do it!”

It is a tough job out there. And Arnie did it and so did Herb Wassom, and superbly well. They truly served on America’s front lines, although the landscape may have seemed deceptively beautiful at times.

And so, we join Nancy and Stephanie, Judy, Tara, and Doug, and their large community of friends around the world, in pride as well as in sorrow. Arnie and Herb will be always with us. They live on in the acts of service and of the goodness they performed, and in the hearts of all of us in their extended family who cherish their memories.

“Blessed are the peacemakers: for they should be called the children of God.”

COPYRIGHT 1988 U.S. Government Printing Office

COPYRIGHT 2004 Gale Group