Forward movement on Indo-Pak ties good for SAARC: Gilani

Yousuf Raza Gilani
Islamabad, Nov 9: The Pakistan Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, today (Nov 9) said that 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 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, Dr 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 $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. “I have never missed any SAARC conference since I became the Prime Minister," he said.

The commencement of the 17th SAARC Summit in 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.""

Th Pakistan Prime Minister said that 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 the Interior Minister, Rehman Malik, the Communications Minister, Arbab Alamgir, and the Ports and Shipping Minister, Babar Khan Ghori, accompanied the Prime Minister to Maldives.


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