ISLAMABAD - The visiting Chief Minister of Bihar, India, Nitish Kumar, Tuesday night called on President Asif Ali Zardari at Aiwan-e-Sadr.

The President while welcoming the Chief Minister and his delegation to Pakistan extended his greeting on the occasion of Diwali. He said that such parliamentary exchanges between the two countries were highly encouraging and will contribute to the deepening of people to people contacts. He said that the two countries might consider establishing friendship groups in their provincial assemblies on similar lines as already existing in our national parliaments, which, he said, would lead to create greater understanding between our law-makers.  He said that Pakistan wishes to have friendly, cooperative and good neighborly relations with India and there were tremendous opportunities existing between the two countries to enhance their cooperation for the mutual benefit. He urged for exploring cooperation in fields such as education, health, and community development between the two countries. While expressing satisfaction over the ongoing dialogue process between the two countries, the President said that there exists a general consensus among the mainstream political parties of Pakistan to have good neighborly relations with India. We want peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes for lasting peace in the region, the President reiterated.

Lauding rich cultural and civilisational heritage of Bihar, the President said that greater interaction between the people and greater cooperation and exchanges with the Government of Bihar covering diverse areas of interaction would prove mutually beneficial for the two sides. He appreciated 'Bihar model of development' due to its emphasis on social sector development particularly education, health, and community development. On this occasion, the President mentioned Benazir Income Support Program which is the flagship program of the Government and was successfully reaching out to millions of the poorest of the poor. While mentioning various component of BISP, the President said that Pakistan would be happy to share its experience in eradicating poverty and unemployment.  

Nitish Kumar, Chief Minister of Bihar, thanked the President for warmly welcoming him and his delegation to Pakistan and said that the people on the other side of the border were also keen to promote good friendly relations with the people of Pakistan. He was accompanied among others by Gopal Baglay, Acting High Commissioner, Dr Renu Kumari, Minister for Industry Department, (Prof) Sukhada Pandey, Minister for Art, Culture and Youth Department, Salim Perwez, Deputy Chairman Bihar Legislative Council, Naushad Ahmad, Chairman, Bihar State Minorities Commission, NK Singh, Member of Parliament (Rajya Sabha), Ashok Kumar Sinha, Chief Secretary Government of Bihar and others.

Hina Rabbani Khar, Foreign Minister, Farzana Raja, Minister/Chairperson, Benazir Income Support Programme, Dr Paul Bhatti, Minister for National Harmony, Asma Arbab Alamgir, MNA, Anwar Saifullah Khan, MPA KPK and other senior officials were also present from Pakistan side. Later, the President also hosted dinner for Nitish Kumar and his delegation.