Govt committed to constructive sustained engagement with India Gilani

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ISLAMABAD: Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday said his government is committed to a constructive, sustained and result-oriented process of engagement with India.He said that Pakistan wanted a just, peaceful and negotiated settlement of the Jammu and Kashmir issue.
The Prime Minister expressed these views while addressing the Indian Parliamentary delegation, which called on him at Prime Minister House here.The delegation is currently on tour of Pakistan and holding exchange of views with their Pakistani counterparts under the banner of PILDAT.

The Prime Minister recalled his meetings with Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in Sharm el Sheikh, Thimpu, Mohali and Maldives on the sidelines of the SAARC Summit.

Mentioning his visit to Mohali he undertook to watch a cricket match between Pakistan and India on the invitation of the Indian Premier, Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said that he met President of Indian National Congress Sonia Gandhi and top Indian leadership.

The Prime Minister said that his interactions created an enabling environment paving the way for the meaningful dialogue process.

Earlier speaking on the occasion, Mani Shankar Aiyar, former Union Minister and leader of the Indian National Congress and Yashwant Sinha, former Union Minister and a BJP leader, thanked Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani for his warm hospitality at the Prime Minister House.

Uninterrupted dialogue can bring peace and stability in both countries on durable basis, which could entitle both Prime Ministers for Nobel Peace Prize, they stated.

They said the Indian Prime Minister had rightly said that Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani was a man of peace.

The Prime Minister responded by saying that in the context of Pakistani politics, he was a man of crisis.

They said that they observed complete transformation in Pakistan in terms of friendly and hospitable environment in Pakistan as compared to their last visit in January 2011 last year.

They said that there was a vast potential of trade between the both countries that could touch the figure of $15 billion instead of the current $2 billion.

Pakistani and Indian Parliamentarians also handed over the joint parliamentary resolution to the Prime Minister on the occasion.

The Prime Minister said the government fully supports Parliamentary exchanges and he believed that enhancing people-to-people contact at diverse tiers is a key to deepening engagement between both countries.

Peace and stability in the region are, therefore, critical factors, essential for socio-economic development of the people, he added.

He urged the Parliamentarians of both sides to play a positive role in taking the peace process forward by reducing trust deficit and building solid foundation for peace.

"We appreciate the contribution of the civil society of both countries towards promoting the ideals of peace, harmony and friendship between Pakistan and India."

The Prime Minister said peace can only be achieved by developing understanding and parliamentarians can play a key role in facilitating the dialogue process and conflict resolution in a just and fair manner on mutually acceptable terms.The Prime Minister said it is his most cherished dream to see Pakistan and India moving forward towards friendly, cooperative and good neighbourly relations.

"I strongly believe that it is only through constructive engagement, Pakistan and India can march towards the goal of establishing good-neighbourly and cooperative relations. It is no doubt slow but incremental process which needs careful diplomatic handling from both sides," he added.

He said he had excellent interactions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, most recently in Maldives on the sidelines of the SAARC Summit.

"I am encouraged by the Indian leadership's statements about constructive engagement with Pakistan. Pakistan fully reciprocates these sentiments. I am happy that the first round of the Resumed Dialogue Process has been completed."

He said, "We express satisfaction at the recent visits to India by the Foreign Minister in July and by the Commerce Minister in September. These visits have significantly improved the atmospherics between the two countries."

The talks have served to reduce trust deficit and both sides need to exert greater effort towards creating a solid foundation for taking the process forward, he added.

"We also welcome the decision to revive Pakistan-India Joint Commission and look forward to the holding of this meeting at an early date."

He said Pakistan looks forward to the next round of bilateral talks at the secretaries' level.

"We hope that the next round of talks would yield positive and forward movement in all the eight segments contained in the composite dialogue framework."

The resolution of the differences between Pakistan and India would usher in an era of peace, progress and prosperity for the peoples of the subcontinent and in the wider SAARC region, he noted.

The Prime Minister said SAARC possesses huge potential for growth provided India and Pakistan give necessary impetus to it.

Pakistan, on its part, is committed to SAARC charter and wants to see it develop into a strong economic regional grouping, he added.

Pakistan is committed to a just and peaceful resolution of the Kashmir dispute, he said adding the CBMs, agreed upon between the two countries on Kashmir, have paid dividends.

The recent Cross-LOC measures announced by the two foreign ministers to further ease intra-Kashmir trade and travel must be implemented in all sincerity and efficacy.

He said there is also a need by India to ensure full implementation of the Indus Waters Treaty and address concerns relating to that.

He said Pakistan is keen to build people to people contacts as well as mutually beneficial exchanges between the Parliamentarians from both countries "We look forward to the visit of the Speaker of Lok Sabha, Meira Kumar, in February as well as the visit of the Commerce Minister Anand Sharma to Pakistan on February 13," he added.

"We also look forward to the visit of External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna for the Ministerial review meeting at the end of the second round of talks of the Resumed Dialogue process. These high level Ministerial and Parliamentary visits are extremely important in building an environment of trust and mutual confidence."

He expressed hope that Pakistan-India inter-Parliamentarians' dialogue will help in furthering the dialogue process and strengthening peace and stability in the region.

The Indian parliamentary delegation consisted of Mani Shankar Aiyar, Derek O Brien, Naresh Gujral, Satish Chandra Mishra, Sitaram Yechury from Rajya Sabha and Yashwant Sinha, Asaduddin Owalsi, Baijayant Jay Panda, Dasgupta Gurudas, Hamdullah Sayeed, Harsimrat Kaur Badal, Shatrughan Prasad Sinha, Supriya Sadanad Sule, Raghuvansh Prasad Singh and Tathagata Sathpathy from Lok Sabha.

The Pakistani parliamentary delegation consisted of Jan Muhammad Jamali, Deputy Chairman of Senate Senator S.M. Zafar, Senator Salim Saifullah Khan, Makhdoom Amin Faheem, Minister for Commerce, Chaudhry Ahmad Mukhtar, Minister for Defence, Mrs. Hina Rabbani Rabbani Khar, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Mir Israrullah Zehri, Minister for National Food Security and Research, Dr Farooq Sattar, Minister for Oversees Pakistanis, Mian Riaz Hussain Pirzada, Minister for Professional and Technical Training, Faisal Karim Kundi, Deputy Speaker National Assembly, Qamar Zaman Kaira MNA, Ms Asma Arbab Alamgir MNA, Asfandyar Wali Khan MNA, Haji Munir Khan Orakzai MNA, Ms Kashmala Tariq MNA, Ms Bushra Gohar MNA, Maulana Muhammad Qasim MNA, Aftab Ahmad Khan Sherpao MNA and Gulam Murtaza Khan Jatoi MNA.

Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, Executive Director of PILDAT, Ms Aaisya Riaz, Ms Wajiha Kanwal and Hammal Dostain of PILDAT were also present on the occasion.

Courtesy: Business Recorder

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