I am a Man of Crisis:Gilani tells Indian MPs

Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani, currently in the thick of political upheaval, called himself a "man of crisis" when pointed out that his Indian counterpart had rightly called him a "man of peace".

During a meeting with a visiting Indian parliamentary delegation on Wednesday evening, the lawmakers, including former ministers Mani Shankar Aiyar and Yashwant Sinha, noted that Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had "rightly said that Yousuf Raza Gilani was a man of peace".

59-year-old Gilani responded by saying that "in the context of Pakistani politics, he was a man of crisis," according to a statement issued by the premier`s office here. Gilani said his government was committed to a "constructive, sustained and result-oriented process of engagement with India". He recalled his meetings with Singh at Sharm-el-Sheikh in Egypt, Thimpu in Bhutan, Mohali and the Maldives on the sidelines of the last SAARC Summit.

Referring to his visit to Mohali last year to watch the semi-final of the cricket World Cup between India and Pakistan, Gilani recalled his meeting with Congress president Sonia Gandhi and other top Indian leaders. These interactions "created an enabling environment" that paved the way for a meaningful dialogue process, he said.

Aiyar and Sinha told Gilani that uninterrupted dialogue can bring peace and stability to both countries on a durable basis. Such a development "could entitle both the Prime Ministers for a Nobel Peace Prize," they were quoted as saying.

Gilani said it was his "most cherished dream to see Pakistan and India moving forward towards friendly, cooperative and good neighbourly relations". India and Pakistan can move towards good neighbourly relations "only through constructive engagement," he remarked. "It is no doubt a slow but incremental process which needs careful diplomatic handling from both sides," Gilani said.

Aiyar and Sinha said they had observed a "complete transformation in Pakistan in terms of the friendly and hospitable environment" as compared to their last visit in January last year. The Indian lawmakers were in Islamabad for a two-day dialogue with their Pakistani counterparts. The visit came at a time when Pakistan`s government is being seen as in confrontation with the powerful military and judiciary giving rise to speculation about the fate of Gilani.