Manmohan, Gilani take a sunset stroll in Thimphu (Thimphu Diary)April 29th, 2010 - 2:22 pm ICT by IANS
By Sarwar Kashani
Thimphu, April 29 (IANS) They may not see eye to eye but they can certainly take a walk together. And that’s exactly what Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and his Pakistani counterpart Yousuf Raza Gilani did at the insistence of their SAARC colleagues at their 16th regional summit here.
Heads of states present at the 16th South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit “insisted” that Manmohan Singh and Gilani take a stroll Wednesday evening. The other leaders had openly expressed their unhappiness over bitter India-Pakistan relations and perhaps decided a walk in the picturesque surroundings of this Bhutanese capital might help matters.
“Insisted by the leaders of (South Asian) delegations both the prime ministers walked together in the SAARC Village and exchanged views. They strolled for sometime before returning to their respective villas,” a SAARC press statement said.
The two leaders meet here Thursday afternoon, for the first time since Sharm-el-Sheikh last July. Peaceniks are hoping that the stroll in the sunset would help in ironing out some of the differences between the two countries. And asking, will they walk the talk?
Gilani’s forefathers laid foundation of Golden Temple
Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani’s forefathers laid the foundation of the Golden Temple in Amritsar. That bit of information came from none other than Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh at an informal meet of the eight SAARC leaders here Wednesday evening.
Manmohan Singh told other leaders that Gilani was “looked upon with respect as he has a number of spiritual followers in India”.
“His forefathers had laid the foundation of Golden Temple in Amritsar and the Sikhs population is aware of this fact,” Manmohan Singh told leaders of the delegations.
SAARC wins over football and soaps
The contest between football or soaps versus the 16th SAARC summit would be pretty straightforward you would think. But not in Bhutan, where people have been glued to their TV sets to watch proceedings of the summit, the biggest event ever hosted by the Himalayan kingdom.
“I preferred watching SAARC telecast over Champions League. This was the first time I missed the sports event so did my wife who usually watches Indian soaps. It was the same everywhere,” said Palden Thsering, 28.
After all, he said, Bhutan has never occupied air time or print space in media. “It opened the window to the world to peep into our country. I am happy. The event has added to our gross national happiness,” Thsering said, referring to Bhutanese alternative economics of gross national product.
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