Ahead of the crucial Foreign Secretary-level talks here, Pakistan Premier Yusuf Raza Gilani on Tuesday said the “core issues” between the two countries should be addressed with sincerity in the bilateral dialogue process.
Mr. Gilani “underlined the imperative of addressing the core issues with sincerity” under the dialogue process that resumed earlier this year.
He also highlighted the need for “increased trade between the two countries as well as the importance of people-to-people contacts,” particularly enhanced exchanges of parliamentarians to bring the people of the two countries closer.
Mr. Gilani made the remarks while interacting at the Prime Minister’s House with a Sikh delegation led by Chaudhry Abhay Singh, a member of the assembly of Haryana state.
The Premier also expressed his satisfaction that the dialogue between the two countries had resumed and meetings of the Interior, Commerce and Defence Secretaries had already taken place.
His remarks came ahead of Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao’s visit here to hold talks with her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir on June 23-24, during which the two sides would take stock of the progress made during the series of high-level meetings between the two countries in key areas of security, trade and commerce and water.
Referring to his visit to Mohali to witness the cricket World Cup semi-final, Mr. Gilani recalled his “useful interaction” with his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh and other leaders.
He reciprocated Dr. Singh’s “keen desire to discuss all the issues between the two countries” and said Pakistan and India “must resolve all the core disputes to live peacefully and to divert their attentions towards addressing the common problems of poverty and socio-economic development.”
Mr. Gilani also underlined the need for proper maintenance and upkeep of religious shrines and other holy places of every religion in both countries.
He said pilgrims from the two countries should be facilitated during visits to their respective shrines.
The Sikh delegation expressed its satisfaction at the upkeep and care of gurdwaras and holy places in Pakistan.
The Sikh leaders thanked the people and government of Pakistan for the hospitality.