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India wants a strong and prosperous Pakistan: PM

December 07, 2012 20:59 IST

Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday said India would like to see a "strong, stable and prosperous" Pakistan. He also said that he was happy to see democracy flourish over there as he received a Parliamentary delegation from that country.

Dr Singh also told the delegation, led by Chairman of Pakistan's Senate Syed Nayyer Hussain Bokhari, that closer relations between parliaments in the two countries was necessary for strengthening bilateral relations.

"Welcoming the resumption of dialogue process, the prime minister said India would like to see a strong, stable and prosperous Pakistan and was happy to see democracy flourish over there," a statement from the Pakistan High Commission said.

Bokhari felt parliamentary diplomacy would be "more beneficial" in improving ties between the two nations as members of parliament represent the aspirations of the people.

"We had a very good meeting. We discussed bilateral issues. It is a positive thing that the two countries are talking so that relations can improve," Bokhari said after a 45-minute meeting with the prime minister.

Besides the prime minister, the delegation, which is visiting India at the invitation of Rajya Sabha Chairman Hamid Ansari, also met External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Leader of the Opposition Arun Jaitley and President of Indian Council for Cultural Relations Karan Singh.

"We discussed the areas in which impediments should be resolved," he said.

The delegation also met President Pranab Mukherjee, who expressed satisfaction over the enhanced parliamentary exchanges as well as forward movement in areas such as trade, culture and people-to-people contacts.

"The President stressed on the need for the two countries to build on convergences and narrowing divergences," the statement said.

Bokhari also told Dr Singh that the democratic government in Pakistan attached high priority to creating a stable and prosperous neighbourhood and a national consensus existed on improving relations with India.

Bokhari said that being the representative of the people, parliaments of the two countries had the responsibility to work towards improvement of bilateral relations.

Replying to a question, Bokhari said parliamentary diplomacy would be more beneficial because MPs were elected by the people. They represent the people's aspirations and create a better atmosphere through engagement.

"It is a misconception. Elected representatives are answerable to the people," he shot back when asked if India felt it was easier to deal with authoritarian leaders in Pakistan.

Asked about the proceedings of the Indian Parliament witnessed by the Pakistani delegation on Thursday, Bokhari said, "There may be differences but many issues are raised. That is the beauty of democracy."

During his discussions with the Indian leadership, Bokhari stressed on the need for more frequent exchanges at parliamentary levels to bring the people of the two sides closer and deepen the bond of friendship between Pakistan and India.

He said parliamentarians have to play a crucial role to remove the misperceptions and work jointly to resolve issues through dialogue.

With Khurshid, Bokhari discussed matters of mutual interest and underscored Pakistan's belief in dialogue.

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