Indian Par for terror-free ties with Pak: Meira

Last Updated: Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 00:17

Islamabad: Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar on Wednesday told Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani there was consensus in the Indian parliament on forging a relationship of trust and cooperation with Pakistan "in an atmosphere free of terror and violence".

Kumar, the first Lok Sabha Speaker to visit Pakistan, made
the remarks at a reception hosted by Gilani for a visiting
Indian parliamentary delegation led by her.

India, she said, wished to see a "stable, peaceful and
prosperous Pakistan".

"There was consensus in the Indian parliament on building
a relationship of trust and mutually beneficial cooperation
between India and Pakistan in an atmosphere free of terror and
violence," Kumar was quoted as saying in a statement issued by
her office.

"Such a relationship would be to the benefit of people of
both countries and contribute to prosperity in the region,"
she said.

Kumar said the people of India desire a strong friendship
with their Pakistani counterparts.

"I will tell the people of India that the people of
Pakistan reciprocate their desire for friendship," she
remarked.

In his address, Gilani said it was "his cherished desire
to have a constructed sustainable and result-oriented
dialogue with India".

Such a dialogue is necessary for "permanent and solid
relations" and will also usher in development and prosperity
in the region, he added.

Pakistan is a peace loving country that wants good
relations with all its neighbours, including India, Gilani
said.

He noted that the first round of the resumed India-
Pakistan dialogue was held last year and expressed the hope
that the second round of talks this year would "bear fruits".

India and Pakistan resumed their peace process last year
after a gap of over two years following the 2008 Mumbai
attacks, which were blamed on Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba.

Gilani said he had "great regard" for his Indian
counterpart Manmohan Singh, who accepted his initiative for
dialogue.

"I respect Dr Manmohan Singh from the bottom of my heart
and I share his desire for peace," he said.

India and Pakistan should work together for the poor and
against hunger, disease and poverty in the two countries,
Gilani said.

"We should think about the future of the people so they
have drinking water, health and education," he said.

The premier referred to Indian Commerce Minister Anand
Sharma`s visit to Pakistan last week and said he hoped that
trade between the two countries would grow and contribute to
the prosperity of people and to trust between the two
countries.

Gilani stressed on more people-to-people contacts and
exchange of parliamentary delegations.

"Governments come and go but the love of people remains
and your visit will pave the way for strengthening relations
between the people," he told Kumar.

He asked Kumar to convey his regards to the Indian Prime
Minister and Congress party president Sonia Gandhi.

Kumar conveyed the greetings of the Indian parliament,
government and people to their counterparts of Pakistan.
She also conveyed greetings from the Indian Prime Minister
to his Pakistani counterpart.

Both leaders shared a "very good relationship" and had
moved bilateral relations in a positive direction through
their meetings over the last two years, she added.

Fehmida Mirza, Speaker of Pakistan`s National Assembly,
said in her speech that the Pakistan-Indian Parliamentary
Group should meet twice a year to increase mutual
understanding.

Earlier in the day, Indian and Pakistani parliamentarians
agreed to work to ensure the success of the bilateral peace
process and to enhance regional cooperation.

This was decided at a meeting between members of
Pakistan`s Women Parliamentary Caucus and the Indian
parliamentary delegation headed by Kumar.

The Indian delegation visited the WPC secretariat for the
meeting, which was aimed at providing greater opportunities
for interaction between women parliamentarians of India and
Pakistan and the exchange of experiences, expertise and good
practices, officials said.

Lok Sabha Speaker Kumar said women in India and Pakistan
face similar problems.

Over the past few years, there had been a "silent
revolution" whereby more women had educated and empowered
themselves to ensure their rights and to avail of
opportunities, she said.

Nafisa Shah, secretary of the WPC, said women of both
countries should act as agents of change and play their role
in transforming the bilateral dialogue process.

Trade and visa opportunities for women of both countries
figured in the discussions, officials said.

The two sides agreed that exchange programmes for
parliamentarians, students, women entrepreneurs and
researchers should be promoted to boost economic and social
ties.

Kumar and her delegation also met the Parliamentary
Friendship Group for India in the National Assembly.
The interaction was hosted by former minister and Convener
of the Group, Qamar Zaman Kaira.

PTI



First Published: Thursday, March 22, 2012 - 00:17

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