Premier Yousuf Raza Gilani has said dialogue is the only way forward for resolving all issues between India and Pakistan despite a perceived lack of progress during the recent Foreign Secretary-level talks.
“We raise our hopes and then disappoint ourselves,” Mr. Gilani said, referring to the February 25 talks between Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao and her Pakistani counterpart Salman Bashir in New Delhi. However, he said, talks are the “only way forward.”
Mr. Gilani expressed his views in response to a question about the parleys during an interview with Geo News channel.
Referring to his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in Sharm-el-Sheikh in July last year and an expected meeting on the sidelines of the upcoming SAARC summit in Bhutan, he said, “Whenever we meet, it would be meaningful.”
Responding to a query about Dr. Singh’s visit to Saudi Arabia, Mr. Gilani described it as a good development. He said it would not have any impact on Pak-Saudi ties as the two countries are members of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference and enjoy close and friendly relations.
Asked about military exercises recently conducted by India at Pokhran, Mr. Gilani said Pakistan’s defence is in secure hands and the country is aware of its defence capabilities. “We are not worried about such things,” he said.
Replying to a question about the Indo-US agreement on civil nuclear cooperation, he said, “We have told (the US) that they have to do something for Pakistan too in order to avoid regional instability.” Pakistan will not make any compromise on its defence and nuclear policy and the country’s sovereignty and integrity will be upheld, Mr. Gilani said.
He parried a question about granting an extension in service to army chief Gen Ashfaq Parvez Kayani, who is due to retire at the end of the year. He dismissed reports about differences of opinion between him and the presidency on this issue and said the government will decide on the matter when the time comes. He described Gen. Kayani as “pro-democracy and a highly professional person.”
Mr. Gilani disagreed with the idea that he and President Asif Ali Zardari were playing the role of “good cop, bad cop.” “We are following the party manifesto and vision of (slain former premier) Benazir Bhutto.”
Mr. Gilani said the constitutional reforms committee — which is framing amendments that could strip the President of his sweeping powers — has been asked to speed up its work and is now expected to complete its task by March 23.
“We are committed to the nation and political parties to implement the Charter of Democracy,” he said, referring to an agreement signed by the ruling PPP and main opposition PML-N in 2006 to introduce political and constitutional reforms.
Replying to another question about his government taking steps to reopen graft cases against Zardari in Switzerland in line with an order issued by the Supreme Court, Mr. Gilani said the administration will present its detailed views on the issue during a hearing in the apex court on March 12.