इंडियन आवाज़     29 Nov 2023 07:55:50      انڈین آواز

Manmohan, Gilani discuss cricket, peace

Sources said that the two leaders discussed something beyond cricket during the dinner; however both the leaders were continuously being briefed with latest score on the ground.

‘Indeed, this meeting today once again reaffirmed the intention of both governments to take forward the process of dialogue,’ Indian Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao said after the prime ministers ended their dinner at the Punjab Cricket Association (PCA) stadium here.

Explaining that ‘dialogue is a process with which you can understand each other better’, Rao revealed to the media what Gilani and Manmohan Singh really desired: ‘The goal is normalization of relations.’

The dinner at the Punjab Cricket Association club house at the stadium in Mohali started mid-way between the high-voltage semi-final match when Pakistan had lost 2 wickets. The two leaders watched the Indian innings together.

Congress President Sonia Gandhi, Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar, Union Agriculture Minister and ICC chief Sharad Pawar, Union Minister of State Sachin Pilot, Punjab Governor Shivraj Patil and National Security Adviser Shivshankar Menon were also part of the dinner engagement.

Chief Ministers of Punjab and Haryana Parkash Singh Badal and Bhupinder Singh Hooda respectively, Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi and Deputy Chairman of Planning Commission Montek Singh Ahluwalia were also present.

From the Pakistani side, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Defence Minister Chaudhary Ahmed Mukhtar and Minister of State in Foreign Ministry Hina Rabani Khar, Awami National Party President Asfandyar Wali Khan and Pakistani High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik were present.

Gilani was in Mohali at the invitation of Singh who in a mix of cricket and diplomacy called him for talks last week the moment it was known that India and Pakistan would be playing in the semi-final.

This is Gilani’s maiden visit to India after he took over as Prime Minister in March, 2008.

The two leaders have earlier met in third countries like Sharm-el-Shaikh in 2009, Washington and Thimphu in April, 2010.

Before leaving for India, Gilani told reporters in Rawalpindi that he was happy at the resumption of dialogue between India and Pakistan and that both the Prime Ministers were committed to work for peace and prosperity in the region.

“As far as our relations are concerned, I am happy that our talks have resumed. The talks between the Interior Secretaries were conducted in a positive manner. I appreciate that,” Gilani said. He described Singh as an experienced politician with a positive attitude.

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