Singh calls for burying ‘ancient animosities’

Indian PM accept­s Gilani’s invita­tion to visit Pakist­an, dates to be decide­d.

Aditi Phadnis March 31, 2011


Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh held a 90-minute conversation here on Wednesday, a re-engagement that Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao hopes would lead to ‘peace, healing and reconciliation’ between the two countries.

The two prime ministers found time for the talks during the ICC World Cup semi-final between Pakistan and India on Wednesday. Congress President Sonia Gandhi, her son Rahul Gandhi and Indian Parliamentarians also joined the two leaders at the talks which were held in a good atmosphere.

Later in his dinner speech, premier Singh said India and Pakistan should put ‘ancient animosities’ behind them and attend to their people.

“India and Pakistan should be working together to find cooperative solutions and need permanent reconciliation to live together in dignity and honour,” Singh said.

Nirupama Rao said the two leaders had agreed to exchange visits by delegations of lawmakers and deeper and wider cricketing ties, though she did not elaborate on whether this meant that Pakistan’s players would play in the next edition of the Indian Premier League.

Prime Minister Gilani also described his meeting with Singh as ‘positive’ where they discussed “all the core issues between the two countries”. Gilani told Pakistani journalists after the meeting that he invited the Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Congress President Sonia Gandhi to visit Pakistan.

The Indian foreign secretary said that the Indian premier has accepted the invitation to visit Pakistan and dates  would be announced soon.

Rao denied that the Indian premier had, by deciding to re-engage with Pakistan, put the Mumbai attacks behind India. She said Singh emphasised that both India and Pakistan should strive for an atmosphere free of terror and violence.

But the meeting between the two prime ministers took place against the background of the Saarc meeting at Thimphu and the ‘extremely positive meeting of the home secretaries’.

Rao said the two prime ministers agreed that issues of terrorism should be addressed in a ‘cooperative spirit, jointly’.

The two prime ministers had a substantive conversation for ninety minutes, but exchanges over dinner were related only to sport. Singh referred to the fact that Gilani’s forefathers made a substantial contribution for the building of the Golden Temple.

There will be a flurry of exchanges between the two sides this year, including talks between the surveyor generals of the two countries, commerce secretaries, foreign secretaries and foreign ministers.

In Islamabad, the United States embassy congratulated Prime Minister Gilani of Pakistan and his Indian counterpart for their leadership of ‘cricket diplomacy’ between their countries.

“We wish both nations continued success in expanding dialogue, mutual understanding, and cooperation.  We believe continued visionary diplomacy of this sort will lead both countries and the region as a whole to winning results for all sides,” a US embassy statement said.

With additional reporting by Sumera Khan in Islamabad

Published in The Express Tribune, March 31st, 2011.

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Raj | 10 years ago | Reply @Akbar Ali: Your hate for non Muslims is reflected in your post. India has so many monuments named after Shaheed Bhagat Singh including a college in New Delhi. Indians and Sikhs have learned from history and have forgotten the black scars of post independence including 1984. The difference of Indian and Pakistani secularism is visible. When Pakistan had its first Sikh commissioned officer Lt Harcharan Singh, India's Chief of Army Staff was a Sikh General J.J. Singh. I truly feel sorry for Pakistan that educated elite like yourself is full of hate towards secular ideas. May Allah bless you and my neighboring country I loved and adored the most while growing up in Amritsar.
Akbar Ali | 10 years ago | Reply @Raj: WOW.What an analysis.. that we change the name of Ghaddafi Stadium to Bhagat Singh.. Well, I think its more of your responsibility to rename Mohali Stadium as Bhagat Singh Stadium for two main reasons: 1) gandhi Betrayed Bhagat Singh when he did not request for his Pardon to his English masters 2) After what to did with Sikhs and Golden temple in 1984 , by atleast renaming Mohali as Bhagat Singh stadium you and your Govt.will do some PRASHTIK for Your Immense PAAP.
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