Islamabad: Members of Pakistan's cabinet turned out in strength for an iftar dinner hosted by Indian High Commissioner Sharat Sabharwal here on Thursday, reflecting the thaw in bilateral relations since the two countries resumed
their peace process earlier this year.
The event, held at a five-star hotel in the heart of the city, was attended by eight members of the federal cabinet, including senior ministers like Finance Minister Abdul Hafeez Shaikh, Commerce Minister Makhdoom Amin Fahim, Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan and Religious Affairs Minister
Leaders of all major political parties, including the PML-N, Awami National Party and Muttahida Qaumi Movement, Foreign Ministry officials, diplomats and members of the media also attended the dinner.
The attendance at today's event was in marked contrast to that of iftar dinners hosted by the Indian envoy in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.
Inter-Services Intelligence agency chief Lt Gen Ahmed Shuja Pasha had created a flutter, when he attended the dinner in 2009.
"There was never a turnout of so many senior ministers in recent years. This shows that there has been a thaw in India-Pakistan relations," said a foreign diplomat, who did not want to be named.
Speaking to the media, High Commissioner Sabharwal said India is committed to the peace process with Pakistan and wants to build relations on the basis of trust and mutually beneficial cooperation.
The two countries could cooperate in diverse areas like trade and agriculture, Sabharwal said.
Referring to Pakistan Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar's visit to India last month, Sabharwal said the two sides had then agreed to take their relationship forward.
India and Pakistan agreed to resume their peace process in February after a gap of over two years. Since then, senior officials of the two sides have held
discussions on issues like the Kashmir issue, trade and commerce, confidence-building measures and terrorism.
First Published: Friday, August 19, 2011, 00:47