Buoyed by his cricket diplomacy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said that India and Pakistan should put their ”ancient animosities” behind them and work for a ”permanent reconciliation” and ”cooperative solutions” to their problems.
Speaking at a dinner he hosted for his Pakistani counterpart Yusuf Raza Gilani last night on the margins of India-Pakistan World Cup cricket semi final match here, Singh said the two neighbouring countries “should be working together to find cooperative solutions and need permanent reconciliation to live together in dignity and honour”.
“We should put our ancient animosities behind us to attend to the problems of our nations,” he said.
Singh later said that “the beautiful game of cricket” has been a “uniting factor” in bringing together the two prime ministers. “Cricket”, the Prime Minister told a TV channel, “has been a uniting factor. It has brought our two PMs together and I daresay that’s a very good beginning”.
Singh said that “whatever be the differences between our two countries, we have to find ways to resolve them”. “Gilani-sahab and I have had extensive discussions on all outstanding issues and we have reaffirmed our resolve that there are difficulties in the way but we will make every honest effort to overcome those difficulties.
“And the message from Mohali is that the people of India and Pakistan want to live in peace and amity and that the two PMs have committed their governments to work in that direction,” he said.
Singh said he was “very grateful” to Gilani for “having accepted my invitation to join me in watching this beautiful game of cricket”. Gilani on his part termed his talks with Singh as “positive” and said they discussed all the core issues between the two countries. “Talks were positive. We discussed all the core issues between the two countries,” Gilani told the Pakistan media in a brief chat after his dinner meeting.
“Today’s match brought the peoples and leadership of the two countries together. This, I believe, is the positive outcome of today’s semifinal”, Gilani said.
Gilani said “winning or losing a game does not matter more than its quality and the team spirit” and congratulated both the teams “for demonstrating sportsmanship and quality game”.
The Pakistan Prime Minister felicitated the Indian team for showing better performance and determination and said the Pakistan team also did put up resistance but it was not their day.
He hoped there would be other occasions when both teams would play with each other both in India and Pakistan.
Gilani conveyed to the people of India that Pakistan wanted good neighbourly relations and “the resolution of all issues through dialogue will bring peace and prosperity to our people”.
Gilani said he invited the Indian Prime Minister and Congress President Sonia Gandhi to visit Pakistan.
He told PTV that “winning and losing is something that has its own place but this is a victory for cricket and the two countries”.
“On the basis of this, we came together today and we held discussions on the sidelines (of the game) and we talked on all issues. It is our determination that we will resolve all issues”, he said.
Gilani said “I congratulate the (Indian) Prime Minister for the resumption of the composite dialogue. It was his promise in Thimphu and it was in the spirit of Thimphu that meeting of the Interior Secretaries was very successful. A good message has gone.
“We don’t want that we are unable to resolve our own issues. We have the capacity and ability to resolve our issues by ourselves. We held talks on all outstanding issues and Prime Minister (Manmohan Singh) showed magnanimity by saying he is ready to resolve all issues by sitting together”, the Pakistan Prime Minister said.
He said “we want positive messages to be sent by both countries and our common enemy is poverty, hunger, disease, unemployment. We should give attention to that and Prime Minister (Singh) has said earlier and is saying today that the intention of both of us is to resolve these issues and both the countries should prosper. There should be prosperity and development.