‘India wants strong and prosperous Pak’


New Delhi, Dec 7: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today said India would like to see a "strong, stable and prosperous" Pakistan and that he was happy to see democracy flourish over there as he received a Parliamentary delegation from that country.
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, 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 Pakistan High Commission here said.
Bokhari felt parliamentary diplomacy would be "more beneficial" in improving ties between the two nation 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 could improve," Bokhari told PTI after a 45-minute meeting with the Prime Minister.
Besides the Prime Minister, the delegation, which is here 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 there are impediments which 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 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, the statement said.
Replying to a question, Bokhari said parliamentary diplomacy would be more beneficial because MPs were elected by the people and represent their aspirations and create a better atmosphere through engagement.
"It is a misconception. Elected representatives are answerable to the people," he shot back when asked about a view that India felt it was easier to deal with authoritarian leaders in Pakistan.
Asked about the proceedings of Indian Parliament witnessed by the Pakistani delegation yesterday, Bokhari said "there may be differences but 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 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.

Lastupdate on : Fri, 7 Dec 2012 21:30:00 Makkah time
Lastupdate on : Fri, 7 Dec 2012 18:30:00 GMT
Lastupdate on : Sat, 8 Dec 2012 00:00:00 IST

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