NEW DELHI  - Ahead of a meeting in Tehran between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and President Asif Ali Zardari, former prime minister Yousuf Raza Gilani told the Hindustan Times that the ISI supported the dialogue between the two countries.

“Days of fighting wars are over. The ISI and the army are part of the government and they are regularly consulted on the India-Pakistan dialogue. Everyone is on board, including the opposition,” Gilani said in a telephonic interview.

Referring to his meetings with Singh in Sharmal Sheikh, Thimpu, New York and in Maldives, Gilani said: “Singh is an honourable man and has the conviction to normalise ties. I took the initiative and met him and told him that poverty-stricken nations like ours should focus on development and resolve core issues. I also told him that if as neighbours we don’t talk, after the Mumbai attacks, then the terrorists will be the only beneficiary.”

Reiterating that confidence building measures between India and Pakistan were the only way forward, Gilani said: “ Singh is a genuine person and he wanted us to discuss all core issues including Sir Creek, Siachen, terrorism and Kashmir. We were working on all issues and between us; we had reduced the trust deficit to a level where the two countries can now walk the talk.”

Pointing to the fact that the two countries were still engaging at the highest levels, he said that Manmohan Singh’s meeting with President Zardari in Iran would only “enhance the relationship.”

Asked if the dialogue process had suffered a setback after his removal as the prime minister, as Manmohan had referred to him as a ‘man of peace’ after their last meeting in Maldives in November last year, Gilani said, “In Pakistan, I’m also referred to as a man in a crisis but the dialogue will stay on track as it’s the same government with the same President (Zardari). The dialogue now has a level of trust and consistency.”