PRIME Minister Gilani's Beijing visit could turn out to be more important in practical terms on account of the encounters he is likely to have on the sidelines of the ASEM moot with leaders from Europe and major Asian countries. Much will depend on how well prepared he is for the star-studded moot. The 7th Asia-Europe summit, attended by 43 countries and two regional organisations from the two continents, is being held under the shadow of global economic turmoil. Naturally this issue would dominate the talks being held under the theme of "Vision and action: Towards a win-win solution." The ASEM is a loose organization and critics have dubbed it as a talk shop. The fact that so many world leaders have gathered in Beijing indicates that even an exchange of views on the alarming economic downturn could be of significance. The meeting would provide an opportunity to Mr Gilani to meet leaders from countries who are important to Pakistan on account of economic ties and investment. He will come across government leaders from Japan, South Korea, Singapore, Malaysia, Brunei and India. The visit comes soon after Parliament has unanimously passed a resolution to improve the security situation and Pakistan has held talks with the IMF for a bail-out. Mr Gilani can update the Chinese leadership on both issues. Beijing is as concerned about the issue of terrorism as Pakistan and some of the clauses of the resolution are likely to be specially welcomed by it. A high-level delegation, comprising officials of the People's Bank of China, is visiting Pakistan next week. The Chinese side might like to be briefed on the outcome of Islamabad's attempts to seek financial assistance. There is a likelihood of Mr Gilani meeting Dr Manmohan Singh. The water issue has now been added to numerous other disputes with India. There is a need to persuade the Indian leadership that it is in the best interests of the two countries to resolve the outstanding disputes with Pakistan, including the core issue of Kashmir.