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Indo-Pak leaders should build bridges, not walls: Gilani

By Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
July 31, 2009 14:33 IST
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The political leaders of India and Pakistan should build "bridges and not walls" as talks are the only way forward for the two neighbouring countries, Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani said on Thursday.

"Talks (between the two countries) are imperative and politicians should build bridges and not walls," Gilani told mediapersons in Islamabad on the sidelines of a function marking the inauguration of the new stock exchange.

Gilani lauded his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh's statement in Parliament about dialogue being the only option for the two countries to improve their relations.

"Manmohan Singh sahab very boldly presented his views in Parliament and I appreciate that. It is proof of his leadership and wisdom that he understands that talks are the only way forward. There can be no other alternate," he said.

Asked whether he had raised Pakistan's concerns about India's alleged "interference" in Balochistan province during his meeting with Singh in Egypt on July 16, Gilani said he had "mentioned our concerns" to the Indian Prime Minister.

Gilani quoted Singh as saying that all issues between the two countries would be resolved through negotiations.

Replying to another question on whether Pakistan had provided evidence of India allegedly fomenting unrest in the southwestern province, Gilani said, "As far as Balochistan is concerned, when we start the composite dialogue, it will come up for discussions and we will give them information."

He did not give details. Gilani said he had assured Singh that Pakistan had started taking action on information contained in the Indian dossier on the Mumbai attacks.

"We have asked for further information and he has agreed to give it. When they give us further information, I assure through the media that we will do justice," he added.

Asked about Pakistan's position on the composite dialogue, which India put on hold after the Mumbai attacks in November last year, Gilani said Pakistan believed that terrorists would be strengthened if the peace process is not started again.

"We don't want to encourage terrorists," he said. Gilani said the "way forward" would be established through upcoming meetings of the Foreign Secretaries and Foreign Ministers of the two countries. The Foreign Ministers would meet on the sidelines of the United Nations General Assembly in September, he said.

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Rezaul H Laskar in Islamabad
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