Pakistan wishes to have "friendly, cooperative and good neighbourly relations" with India as there are tremendous opportunities for the two countries to enhance cooperation for their mutual benefit, President Asif Ali Zardari has said.
Zardari made the remarks at a special Diwali dinner he hosted at the presidency for visiting Bihar Chief Minister Nitish Kumar and his delegation last night.
"We want the peaceful resolution of all outstanding disputes for lasting peace in the region," Zardari said.
Expressing satisfaction at the ongoing dialogue with India, Zardari said there was a "general consensus" among the mainstream political parties of Pakistan to have good neighbourly relations with India.
Welcoming Kumar and his delegation, Zardari extended his greetings for Diwali and said such parliamentary exchanges between the two sides are highly encouraging and will contribute to the deepening of people-to-people contacts.
The two countries should explore the scope for cooperation in fields like education, health and community development, he said.
The two sides should also consider establishing friendship groups in their provincial assemblies similar to those existing in the national parliaments, as this would lead to create greater understanding between lawmakers, he added.
Zardari decided to host a special Diwali dinner for Kumar on learning that his meeting with the Indian leader coincided with the Hindu festival of lights, Indian officials said.
Kumar and his delegation were earlier scheduled to call on Zardari at the presidency in the evening and the meeting was to be followed by a formal dinner hosted by the Foreign Ministry.
The President's decision reflected the importance being attached to Kumar's visit by the Pakistan Peoples Party-led government.
Zardari has taken a personal interest in pushing for better ties with India, especially in trade and commerce, said Fawad Chaudhry, a special assistant to Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf.