New Delhi: Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on Friday 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 were 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 in New Delhi said.
Bokhari felt parliamentary diplomacy would be "more beneficial" in improving ties between the two nations 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 said after a 45-minute meeting with the Prime Minister.
Besides the Prime Minister, the delegation, which is in India 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.
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