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Indo-Pak WC semi-final, not Kashmir, on Gilani's India visit agenda: Awan

March 29, 2011 - Islamabad

Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani is going to visit India to watch the Indo-Pak World Cup semi-final match in Mohali, and "not to discuss the Kashmir issue" with his Indian counterpart Dr Manmohan Singh, Information Minister Firdous Ashiq Awan has said.

Awan made these comments while briefing media persons after a cabinet meeting, trying to contain the diplomatic scoop pertaining to the upcoming meeting between Gilani and Dr Singh, who had invited the former to watch the high voltage Indo-Pak encounter on Wednesday.

However, she hastened to add that the two prime ministers could discuss anything on the occasion, The Dawn reports.

In reply to a question, she said that Pakistan's Foreign Office and the Pakistan High Commission in New Delhi were working to fully utilize the occasion for the improvement of relations between both countries.

he said that the occasion would be utilized to bridge the communication gap between the leaderships of the two countries through this gesture of goodwill of the Indian government.

Gilani believed that the invitation was a significant way forward on the diplomatic front and the government had accepted it in the larger interests of the country, she added.

When asked whether the government had taken the security establishment and opposition parties into confidence before accepting the invitation of the Indian prime minister, the minister said that all stakeholders had been taken on board in this regard.

The minister also said that the government could not take as many people to Mohali as it wanted because of the limited availability of tickets for the match.

Everything will become clear by Tuesday (today) about the composition of the prime ministerial entourage and the issues that could be discussed during the meeting, she said.

Awan said that the keenness to accompany Gilani was such that she, too, would have missed the trip had she not been the Information Minister, and added that while the government was still trying its best to accommodate more people, it all depended on how many guests would be allowed by the Indian authorities.

The minister refused to get into the controversial statement made by Interior Minister Rehman Malik on Monday that Pakistani intelligence agencies were monitoring the national cricket team so that no match-fixing takes place.

"Once head of the federal cabinet, Prime Minister Gilani, is himself going to India to buck up our team, the statement by one minister shouldn't demoralise the players," she maintained.


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