Gilani says Pakistan, India can deliberate together


Islamabad : Prime Minister, Yousuf Raza Gilani, has said that the cricket World Cup semi-final between India and Pakistan is an opportunity for the two countries to show the world that they can play together and deliberate together on key issues.

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Gilani was speaking at the cabinet meeting a day after accepting his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh’s invitation to watch the World cup semi-final at Mohali on Wednesday.

The decision to accept the invitation was made at a meeting between President, Asif Ali Zardari, and Gilani on Sunday.

Thanking Singh for inviting him to the semi-final, Gilani said, “It is also a timely opportunity for the two governments to show the world that the two nations can play together as well as sit and deliberate together on issues of national importance.”

According to an official statement, Gilani responded to the invitation by saying: “I have decided to avail of this opportunity in the national interest.”

The two Prime Ministers will meet two days after a meeting between the Home and Interior Secretaries of India and Pakistan that marked the resumption of the bilateral peace process, which was stalled in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks.

The Pakistan government is completing the arrangements for Gilani’s visit, including the delegation that will accompany the premier to Mohali.

In his opening remarks at the cabinet meeting, Gilani condemned the desecration of the Quran by American pastor Terry Jones and said this “heinous act is reflective of the presence of extremism in various societies”.

“I, on behalf of the people, government of Pakistan and my cabinet colleagues strongly condemn the desecration of the Holy Quran by Terry Jones, a US national,” he said.

Gilani proposed that the time had come for Muslims and the people of Western countries to come together and promote inter-faith harmony for the sake of future generations.

He said the concept of clash of civilizations should be replaced by one that builds bridges and promotes tolerance and mutual respect between cultures.

He informed the cabinet that the government had decided to register a protest at international forums on the burning of the Quran and suggested that parliament should pass a unanimous resolution on the issue.

“Our government also condemns drone attacks, which are counterproductive and flare up extremism,” Gilani said.