Just pilgrimage, no diplomacy

Just pilgrimage, no diplomacy

Pak PM Ashraf on a days visit to Ajmer on Saturday, to skip Delhi

Just pilgrimage, no diplomacy

Raja Pervez Ashraf will be the first Prime Minister of Pakistan to skip New Delhi when he visits the country on Saturday on a day-long pilgrimage to Ajmer’s well-known Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti dargah.

In the past, even when they were on pilgrimage to Ajmer, top leaders from Pakistan had made brief stopovers at Delhi for at least informal talks with the Indian leadership.

Less than a year ago, Prime Minister Manmohan Singh had hosted a private lunch for Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari in the national capital though the Pakistani leader was on a private visit to the famous dargah.

Zardari’s visit turned into a diplomatic event. But the Pakistani prime minister is visiting in the backdrop of a new chill in diplomatic ties in the wake of the brutal killing of two Indian soldiers by Pakistan military personnel along the Line of Control in early January. Manmohan Singh had then said that it was not going to be business as usual with the neighbouring country.

“The Pakistan prime minister is not visiting New Delhi and no substantive discussions are scheduled to be held in Jaipur,” Syed Akbaruddin, official spokesperson in the Ministry of External Affairs, told journalists on Thursday.

Yet, the Indian government will extend all courtesies due to a visiting head of the government. External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid will travel to Jaipur. “External Affairs Minister will host a lunch for the prime minister of Pakistan at a hotel (Rambagh Palace) in Jaipur, before the latter departs for Ajmer.

Upon completion of prayers at Ajmer, the visiting Pakistan premier will return to Jaipur the same evening and take a special flight back to Islamabad,” he added.

Officials said that Ashraf had expressed his desire to offer Zuhr Nawaz (afternoon prayers at 1:30 pm) in the Shahzahani mosque at the dargah. “He is expected to arrive in Ajmer around noon and will complete his Ziyarat before 3 pm,” said sources. 

Ashraf is coming on an invitation by “Khadim and Gaddi Nashin” of Ajmer Dargah, Syed Bilal Chisti.