Gilani defends resumption of peace process with India

Last Updated: Wednesday, August 5, 2009 - 23:22

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani on Wednesday defended his move to push for resumption of the peace process with India, saying it was made only after consulting leaders of all political parties in the country.
Responding to a stinging attack on his government by
Leader of Opposition Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan in Parliament,
Gilani said he consulted leaders of all political parties
before meeting his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh in Egypt
last month and calling for the resumption of the stalled peace
process.

"All the leaders had one view – that there should be a
dialogue and the dialogue should not stop. We are politicians
and we must build bridges. We must not build walls," Gilani
told the National Assembly or lower house of Parliament amid
the thumping of desks by members of the ruling Pakistan
People`s Party.

Earlier, Khan, a senior leader of the Opposition
PML-N, said the Parliament was acting as a mere rubber-stamp
and criticised the PPP-led government for failing to act
decisively on key issues like relations with India and the
trial of former military ruler Pervez Musharraf.

Refuting these assertions, Gilani said he had "spoken
with strength" during his meeting with Singh at Sharm
el-Sheikh on July 16 as he had the "full support and mandate
of whole nation".

He said PML-N chief Nawaz Sharif was among the leaders
he had taken into confidence ahead of his meeting with Singh.

Referring to his parleys with the Indian Prime
Minister, Gilani said "I told them (Indians) that you talk of
Mumbai (but) we are suffering the most. Our country is being
destabilised, I also spoke about Balochistan".

He said the peace process is imperative to improve the
lives of the 1.5 billion people of India and Pakistan. "Why
people should suffer? Why people should be (held) hostage over
only the Mumbai incident? We need a way forward so that we can
end poverty, hunger, disease and unemployment. People should
have job opportunities".

Gilani even claimed Parliament had cooperated with him
more than the Indian Parliament had backed Singh on the issue
of the peace process.

India put its composite dialogue process with Pakistan
on hold following the Mumbai terror attacks. It has linked the
resumption of talks to Pakistan taking action against the
perpetrators of the assault, including the outlawed
Lashker-e-Taiba.

Referring to the Leader of Opposition`s demand that
Musharraf be tried for treason in the wake of the Supreme
Court`s verdict declaring his imposition of emergency in 2007
as unconstitutional, Gilani said he would back any unanimous
resolution moved on this issue in Parliament.

"I am with you if the whole House unanimously passes a
resolution. We will implement it. Parliament is supreme and
must decide...You can move the resolution right now and (I
will) be answerable if I show any hesitation," he said.

Though the apex court has ruled that the emergency
imposed by Musharraf was illegal, only the government can
initiate proceedings for his trial on charges of treason.
Musharraf, who left Pakistan in mid-April, is currently living
in London.

Bureau Report



First Published: Wednesday, August 5, 2009 - 23:22

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