By Bushra Makhdoom
ISLAMABAD – Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani Wednesday said talks are necessary for permanent and solid relations between India and Pakistan.
Speaking at a reception in honour of Indian parliamentary delegation led by Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar here at Prime Minister House, Gilani hoped that ongoing dialogue process with India will prove productive. Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh has accepted his suggestion for initiation of peace talks, Gilani said adding, "I respect Dr Manmohan Singh from the bottom of my heart and I share his desire for peace."
The reception was attended by Speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza and members of various political parties in the parliaments of Pakistan and India.
The Prime Minister said that his government is committed to result oriented, constructive and productive engagement with India. He urged that India and Pakistan should work together for the poor people and against hunger, disease and poverty in the two countries.
"We should think about future of the people so they should have drinking water, health and education," he said adding relations between parliaments of the two countries can prove to be more strong. He stressed on more people to people contacts and exchange of parliamentary delegations. "Governments come and go but love of people remains and your visit will pave way for strengthening relations between the people," he added.
He said the present Pakistani parliament carried out a lot of legislation and the parliaments of the two countries can learn and exchange experiences with each other. The parliaments of the two countries share a lot of history, values and traditions, he added.
The Prime Minister said he had also visited India as Speaker of National Assembly and Tourism Minister. He recalled his visit to India when he along with late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto attended the funeral of Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi. He said during his visits to India he developed friendship with a lot of Indian politicians. "We don't forget old friends and keep in touch with them."
Gilani reminisced about political struggle of his forefathers for the independence of India from Britain. He asked the Speaker Lok Sabha to convey his regards to Indian Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh and President Congress Party Sonia Gandhi.
Speaking on the occasion, Speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza said the parliamentary groups of the two countries should frankly discuss all issues and work for alleviation of poverty and prosperity of people.
"We should divert resources for reduction in poverty and development and welfare of the people," she added. She said the importance of parliamentary diplomacy has increased
and friendship groups of parliaments of the two countries should hold meetings twice a year to increase mutual understanding.
Speaker Indian Lok Sabha Meira Kumar said she has brought a message of good wishes for the people of Pakistan from the people and the parliament of India. She said Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani's visit to India for watching cricket match in Mohali was a beautiful message of friendship for her country.
She recalled the visit of Speaker National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza to India and said both of them could work together and build up their parliaments.
Meira Kumar said the parliaments of Pakistan and India, in which different parties have representation, reflect will of more than a billion people.
Parliament is the best forum to bring people of India and Pakistan together so that they can live in peace and harmony, she added. She said people of India desire a strong friendship with people of Pakistan. "I will tell people of India that people of Pakistan reciprocate their desire for friendship," she remarked.
She said the parliamentary groups of the two countries should meet frequently so that parliamentarians can learn from each other, share ideas and exchange experiences.
She said the parliaments of Pakistan and India are not just buildings but have souls that reverberate.