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Why did Pakistan PM leave the SAARC summit early?

November 11, 2011 19:30 IST

There were speculations galore about the Pakistan premier's early departure in the wake of the Indo-Pak bilateral talks, reports Prasanna D Zore from Addu

Pakistan Prime Minister Yusuf Raza Gilani on Friday left 15 minutes before the SAARC summit in Addu, Maldives concluded.

While it is not odd for heads of states to leave mid-way -- Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai also left the summit early -- Gilani's departure was surprising.

While all other heads of states are flying with their national airlines, Gilani headed back to Islamabad in a Pakistani Air Force jet.

The news of Gilani's early departure was confirmed by Maldivian President Mohammed Naseer during the televised address of the concluding session.

There were speculations galore about the Pakistan premier's early departure in the wake of the Indo-Pakistan bilateral talks that took place on Thursday.

During the talks, Gilani profusely thanked Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for helping Pakistan get access to the European Union market as well as for getting a non-permanent seat in the United Nations Security Council.

Gilani's departure just 15 minutes before the conclusion of the SAARC summit is likely to add grist to the rumour mills because of the crucial role the Pakistan Army plays in foreign policy matters.

Earlier, Gilani told media personnel that he respected Dr Singh's remarks describing him as a "man of peace", following their talks on the sidelines of the SAARC summit.

"I respect his sentiments," Gilani told reporters when asked to comment on Dr Singh's remarks.

"We all are working for peace.  He really wants better relations with the neighbours," Gilani said, adding he is sincere in his attempt to build bridges.

When Gilani was asked by journalists to comment on Dr Singh's remarks that the "time has come to write a new chapter in the history of our relationship", he said, "We will see soon."