On Tuesday, Meira Kumar will become the first Lok Sabha speaker to visit Pakistan in an official delegation. She told HT on Monday how this parliamentary diplomacy will strengthen Indo-Pak people-to-people ties.
What are your expectations from this visit?
Parliament reflects the will of the people. Our parliamentarians have different view points on several domestic issues. But on the issue of friendship with Pakistan, all members are on the same page. I take this delegation to convey the clear message that Indians want friendship with Pakistan.
Is it a double delight for you that this historic visit is taking place when both nations have their first women Speakers running the Lok Sabha and the National Assembly respectively?
I am extremely happy because Dr Fahmida Mirza is the first woman speaker of the National Assembly of Pakistan. We think very much alike and that's why we have also become close friends.
How can the two countries address the problems common to them?
We have made friendship groups in our Parliament. The India-Pakistan friendship group will meet to discuss similar issues confronting the two parliaments and the countries. In the National Assembly of Pakistan, there are 60 women members. We will also meet to discuss issues concerning women and children.
You recently visited Latin America and are now going to Pakistan. Is it a conscious effort on your part to forge a new international relation between the Indian and other parliaments?
Yes. I want more and more parliamentary exchanges to learn from each other's experience and best practices. I also offer the services of our Bureau of Parliamentary Studies and Training (BPST) to others for training. It is not enough to state we are the largest democracy. We also have to reach out to others and ensure a definite role for ourselves in strengthening the democracies of the world.
For the Latin America tour, you had brushed up your Spanish skills. This time, are you sharpening your Urdu?
(Laughs) I love Urdu. Pakistan visit will give me an opportunity to speak Urdu. I will even recite Urdu poems.
What message will you convey to President Asif Ali Zardari and Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani?
We want friendship and bilateral relation of complete trust and confidence.