Cricket diplomacy to better Indo-Pak ties: Gilani

Cricket diplomacy to better Indo-Pak ties: Gilani

Dawn quoted Gilani as saying that his meeting with Manmohan Singh will help improve relations between the neighbours.

Gilani said cricket diplomacy is an opportunity to help improve ties. Final touches are being given to the arrangements for Gilani's visit to Mohali.

Shabbir Anwar, the prime minister's press secretary, told Dawn: "As soon as we receive a final word from the Indian government about the itinerary of the visit, we will decide who else will accompany the prime minister."

Sources in the Prime Minister's Secretariat said preparations were in full swing for the visit.

Experts have lauded Manmohan Singh's invitation to Gilani to watch the cricket match. Rasool Bakhsh Rais, who teaches political science at Lahore University of Management Sciences, described the invitation as a remarkable gesture and said it was a great moment in the history of the neighbouring countries.

"I see it beyond symbolism. It is not about negotiating or re-negotiating India-Pakistan relations, but the occasion will also provide an opportunity to the two prime ministers to rethink their relationship,"  Dawn quoted Rais as saying.

Hasan Askari Rizvi, a political analyst, said Manmohan Singh's invitation indicated a major policy shift in India. After the November 2008 Mumbai terrorist attack, New Delhi was not willing to hold talks on anything except terrorism despite Islamabad insisting on resuming the full spectrum of the dialogue.

Rizvi was quoted as saying that the Gilani-Manmohan Singh meeting would help to improve the hostile atmosphere, but an extraordinary outcome should not be expected.
He said friendly visits at the prime ministers' level always helped to put aside negative propaganda campaigns and remove misunderstandings.

"I believe the visit will also help relax strict visa regimes the two countries have put in place following the Mumbai attack."

Ten terrorists from Pakistan sneaked into Mumbai and unleashed mayhem November 26-28, 2008, killing 166 people, including 26 foreigners.

On President Asif Ali Zardari's order to release Indian prisoner Gopal Dass after 27 years in jail, Dawn said the remission was granted on Gilani's advice.

Gopal Dass was arrested in Pakistan in 1984 and jailed on spying charges. Since then he has been lodged in a jail in Lahore.

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