`Forward movement on Indo-Pak ties good for SAARC`

Gilani will hold bilateral talks with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh in Maldives on Thursday.

Last Updated: Nov 09, 2011, 15:35 PM IST

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza
Gilani on Wednesday said things were moving in the "right direction"
in the Indo-Pak dialogue process and this has increased the
importance and effectiveness of SAARC.

"Naturally, Pakistan and India have a dialogue procedure
under which everything is going in the right direction,"
Gilani told reporters in Lahore before leaving for the
Maldives on a three-day visit to attend a summit meeting of
the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation.

The importance and effectiveness of SAARC had increased
following the ongoing dialogue process between Pakistan and
India, he said.

SAARC had earlier been losing its effectiveness and could
not move forward due to the tense relations between the two
major countries of South Asia, he said.

Gilani will hold bilateral talks with his Indian
counterpart Manmohan Singh in Maldives tomorrow.
India and Pakistan resumed their peace process, which had
stalled in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks, in February
this year.

The attacks that killed 166 people were blamed on the
Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba.

The two sides have held several rounds of talks and agreed
to boost bilateral trade to USD six billion in three years.
Gilani said SAARC`s value and importance had increased
manifold since Pakistan and India started discussing their
mutual disputes at the negotiating table.

The Pakistan People`s Party-led government has been giving
significance to SAARC, Gilani added.

"I have never missed any SAARC conference since I became
the Prime Minister," Gilani said.

The commencement of the 17th SAARC Summit in the Maldives
showed that there was determination and will among member
states to work together for the betterment of the region.

Responding to a question, he said: "We will definitely
focus on the conference`s theme of `Building Bridges` by
discussing all possible ways and means for mutual cooperation
through rail, road and sea routes".

Gilani said he would meet the Presidents of Sri Lanka and
the Maldives, the Prime Ministers of India, Bhutan and Nepal,
and the SAARC Secretary General on the margins of the Summit.
A 12-member delegation, including Interior Minister Rehman
Malik, Communications Minister Arbab Alamgir and Ports and
Shipping Minister Babar Khan Ghori, accompanied the Prime
Minister to the Maldives.

PTI