Mixing cricket with diplomacy, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh today held wide-ranging discussions with his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani when he favoured the need for an "atmosphere free of violence" in order to ensure thorough mobilisation of bilateral ties.
At a dinner Singh hosted in honour of Gilani on the margins of the high-voltage Indo-Pak semi-final match here, the Pakistani premier shared this sentiment, Foreign Secretary Nirupama Rao told reporters, briefing them on the meeting. Singh told his guest "we should put our ancient animosities behind to attend to the problems of our nations.
We have the will to persevere, we have the will to overcome." He said India and Pakistan "should be working together to find cooperative solutions. We need permanent reconciliation to live together in dignity and honour". Describing Singh's initiative as a "re-engagement" between India and Pakistan, she said the cricket encounter provided the "setting, locale and impetus" for the meeting. "Not at all," was Rao's response when asked whether 26/11 attacks have been left behind and brushed aside or put under the carpet in the dialogue.
The Prime Minister, she said, insisted that there should be an "atmosphere free of tension and violence" and the meeting of the Home Secretaries of the two countries had discussed the issue. "We have said it is very important that evidence is scrutinised properly and those responsible are brought to justice. There should be a proper closure and that does not mean that we have set aside or brushed aside or put it under the carpet. Not at all," she said.