ISLAMABAD - Lok Sabha Speaker Meira Kumar has emphasised the need for normalising Pakistan-India relations for greater benefit of people of the two neighbours.

Addressing a dinner hosted by National Assembly Speaker Dr Fehmida Mirza in the honour of the Indian parliamentary delegation on Tuesday, she said she had brought the message of goodwill, friendship, peace and prosperity for the people of Pakistan.

Meira, who arrived on a five-day visit leading a joint parliamentary delegation from Lok Sabha and Rajya Sabha, said the talks between India and Pakistan entered the second phase and hoped all common problems would be resolved through dialogue.

She said relationship between the two countries was not confined to politics and trade but based on emotional and cultural grounds.

She agreed that regular interaction between the parliamentarians and people of both the countries would remove misperceptions and create better understanding between the people of two states. She said the people of India wish to see cordial relations between both the countries. She said all the contentious issues need to be resolved through dialogue.

Meira said trade between the two countries would benefit the people of the two countries, which were “intertwined in common bonds, common culture and civilisation.”

“The cricket matches between the two countries have contributed much to promoting people-to-people contacts. Thanking her Pakistani counterpart for warm welcome and hospitality, she extended an invitation to Fehmida to visit India along with a parliamentary delegation. Earlier in her welcome remarks, the NA Speaker said Pakistan and Indian not only share boundaries but also were intertwined in bonds of culture, history and heritage. She said the two states share common problems; therefore, a common strategy was required to address those problems. She said that regular interaction between the parliamentarians of both the countries was the only way forward for solidifying bilateral relations.

Fehmida said Pakistan has been the victim of terrorism, which has been posing a threat to the region. She called for a joint strategy to counter the menace.

Referring to the economic and commercial ties between Pakistan and India, she said that immense economical potential exist in both the countries, which needed to be exploited for mutual benefit of both the nations.

She said the MNF status to India would further boost commercial activities between the two countries.  She suggested exploring possibilities of cooperation amongst the Indian and Pakistan Institutes of Parliamentary Services for capacity-building of parliamentarians and parliamentary staff.

Meira Kumar has come to Pakistan on the invitation of Fehmida. The visit is the first-ever official visit by an Indian speaker after a long period. The delegation was received at the airport by Special Assistant to Prime Minister Shahnaz Wazir Ali, Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Sharat Sabharwal, National Assembly Secretary Karamat Hussain Niazi and other senior officials. The visit is aimed at forging better ties and future cooperation between the two parliaments. It also carries a special significance for both Pakistan and India who currently have women speakers in their parliament’s lower house.

During her visit, the visiting speaker will also meet President Asif Ali Zardari, Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani and Senate Chairman Farooq H Naik. In the last leg of visit, the delegation will proceed to Lahore where the team will meet Punjab Governor, Chief Minister and PA Speaker.