Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf gestures after offering prayers at the shrine of a Sufi saint in the desert Indian state of Rajasthan, March 9, 2013. — Photo by Reuters

AJMER, India: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf on Saturday prayed at a 13th-century shrine in northern India on a lightning one-day visit in which politics was kept off the agenda. Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid earlier hosted a lunch for Ashraf at the Rambagh Palace, a luxury heritage hotel in the tourist city of Jaipur, and said he was welcoming the premier with “open arms”, despite strained relations between the countries over recent border clashes.

“It's in our culture to welcome our guests with open arms,” said Khurshid, adding that controversial topics such as alleged sponsorship of cross-border militancy by Pakistan, were not discussed at the lunch.

“Today it was a private visit. There were no official talks. We will do it at the appropriate time,” Khurshid said.

On Friday, Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh told parliament ties between the South Asian neighbours could improve only if Pakistan shunned its alleged support to “the terror machine” of cross-border militancy.

Pakistan, which has fought three wars with India since independence from Britain in 1947, rejects New Delhi's charges that she supports militant attacks on Indian soil.

After the luncheon meeting, Ashraf, whose government's term ends on March 16, flew to the shrine in Ajmer, 130 kilometres from Jaipur.

Ashraf and his family prayed at the revered shrine of Sufi saint Hazrat Khwaja Gharib Nawaz and were slated to return to Islamabad later on Saturday.

Ashraf was the most senior Pakistani official to visit India since last April when President Asif Ali Zardari made a similar pilgrimage and had lunch with Prime Minister Singh.

Tensions spiked between New Delhi and Islamabad in January and February as a total of six soldiers were killed in exchanges along the de facto border in Kashmir, a region claimed by both countries.

Four of the soldiers killed were from Pakistan while two were from India.

One of the Indians was beheaded allegedly by Pakistanis.

Some Indians, including the symbolic spiritual head of the Ajmer shrine Zainul Abedin Ali Khan, objected to Prime Minister Ashraf's pilgrimage.

Khan had said he would refuse to assist the premier during the prayers.

“I expected the Pakistani prime minister to bring back the head of the Indian martyr, tender an apology to the people of India and the family of the soldier,” Khan said.

However, his decision did not affect the Pakistani premier's visit because other shrine members assisted Prime Minister Ashraf, officials at the religious site said.

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Comments are closed.

Comments (63)

March 11, 2013 7:23 am
And the Indian establishment and military are systemically friendly and accomodating to Pakistan!!
March 11, 2013 7:29 am
India is the root cause of majority of the problems. Read what Senator Hagel said about India’s role in Afghanistan….. “India for some time has always used Afghanistan as a second front, and India has over the years financed problems for Pakistan on that side of the border,” Enough said. Tell your government to mind its own business.
March 11, 2013 8:33 am
I hope you meant that sarcastically! Because I don't think moderate Muslims are intolerant!
March 11, 2013 8:40 am
Salman Khurshid is a diplomat. Diplomacy is 'politically correct'. And even in conflict, one must respect one's opposition.
March 10, 2013 6:54 pm
No way..He is better off in Pakistan.
March 11, 2013 8:45 am
Not really! We don't hear much of these blame games in Indian news, except for when insurgency attacks happen. And that too not always. Our news is full of many other issues including women safety, economic growth, climate change, corruption etc. And that takes like 95% of the media space. And Pakistan is not mentioned in that. I hope a day comes when Pakistan is mentioned more in context of trade and cultural relations, pleasant mutual foreign policies etc. But I am not sure if your politicians blame everything on India either. That could be an exaggeration too.
March 10, 2013 7:54 am
India is not as innocent as you sound. We do have our internal problems, but India tries to exploit every situation to its advantage.
Akbar A. (Pak)
March 10, 2013 7:50 am
Visit, well & good. Who paid the expenses ? It was n't an official visit, he took his family & friends along.
March 11, 2013 4:29 am
What dictats?
Dr. A. K. Biswas
March 9, 2013 6:07 am
Two neighbors should reduce disrespect and hostility in official and personal expressions, exchanges or communications. The two have more common ground for agreement than disagreement.
March 9, 2013 6:36 am
Wellcome!!! let there be peace.
March 9, 2013 8:00 am
Nothing is going with you, problem is in your system. your democracy is mockery and politicians are making way by accusing India on every problem you face.
March 9, 2013 9:26 am
The spiritual head of our Ajmer Dargah is a true patriot of India. Salman Khurshid is a typical self-seeking politician and a fool. I don't know about Pakistani civil society. I do feel that the Pakistani political establishment and military are rabidly anti-Indian and hostile to Hindu religion and civilisation
Rashid Sultan
March 9, 2013 9:28 am
Let brotherly peace process begin and spell the end to hostility for ever. Violence and arms race must end and the Army, along with America and foreign aid, should become redundant to civic life. We have a lot to learn from India and them from us. We should federate with common policies on many fronts. Many will take exception on an emotional basis but just think objectively; if we had 'merger' of interests and institutions many of our 67 year old disputes would simply vanish. We could then focus on poverty alleiviation, education, improving infrastructure and quality of life for all over time and sustain peace.
March 9, 2013 9:42 am
If I was Pakistani leader, I would not visit India if such gestures of 'show-off' and 'arrogance' are being showed from the Indian side.
Naveen Kumar
March 9, 2013 10:00 am
Good to see Mr. Ashraf in India. Wish him a pleasant stay.
Kadir Khan
March 9, 2013 10:02 am
Hina Rabbani Khar or Rahat Fateh Ali recieves more warm welcome in India then PM Ashraf. His self invited visit to Ajmer which is a small city in NW India even smaller then the size of city of Sukkar in South PAk has refused to entertain PM in the sufi city. Its true that he Ashraf has very few days left in the office as PM as he will be repalced by interin setup soon, its a opportunity to make an unofficial trip to India on govt expense. Sometimes its beyond imaginations to think why Pak high ranking govt politicians so always keen to visit India where people from last 3 generations have not changed their mentality about the Pak. I am sure the interim PM at the end of his term will visit India using the prilgrimage as a reason.
March 9, 2013 10:51 am
Isn't this the story of both the countries?
March 9, 2013 11:19 am
What is so unusual about this! India always welcomes Pakistan with warmth and affection, and Pakistan as always fails on every account to reciprocate with the same sentiments. Yes, it is all in our Indian culture "Atithi Devo Bhava", but with Pakistan, now truly it's reduced to a tiring ordeal.
March 9, 2013 11:28 am
what a nice photo!
Fraz Ahmad
March 9, 2013 11:35 am
What about Pak soldiers. R they nt Human Beings.
March 9, 2013 11:46 am
Just take out region form our relationship equation for a moment and thing about each other. We would end up not as friends or brothers but will end up as same people. Very sad that we have kept nuclear missiles targeted at each other at this moment.
aam aadmi
March 10, 2013 1:45 pm
Indian & Pakistani politicians must be exchanging laughs behind the doors reading these comments from normal Indian and Pakistani citizen; who have got nothing but pain pain & pain since partition in 1947 from these politicians. It is truly disheartening that our innocent people fall always for the hatred they sell (with our own tax paid money) so they can always be on power. "Woh subah kabhie aayegi where normal people will be able to live some moments of happiness.
Agha Ata (USA)
March 9, 2013 1:05 pm
If hypocrisy can bring peace, it is acceptable. :)
fasihul Haque khan
March 9, 2013 1:21 pm
It is good to Foreign Minister of India has welcome Raja pervez of,PM of pakistan weith his open and extented hospitality
Azmat Khan
March 9, 2013 2:03 pm
ajay, this is our wish too.
Azmat Khan
March 9, 2013 2:05 pm
very true doctor sahib
Azmat Khan
March 9, 2013 2:06 pm
pl. same case is with india
Azmat Khan
March 9, 2013 2:09 pm
thank you. we too have good toughts about you, our neighbours.
Azmat Khan
March 9, 2013 2:14 pm
my dear we do not like missiles and wars. we like peace and fraternity. we want to go ahead.please add your voice to ours.
March 9, 2013 2:51 pm
No more soft talk with Pakistan.But Pak PM visit should be taken as pilgrimage and he is welcome.
March 9, 2013 3:22 pm
Bravo-- your house on Fire and the person responsible is on Tour.... Have a great vacation... Politicians all the same.
March 9, 2013 3:25 pm
The hapless,incompetent Mr.Raja will need no less than divine intervention to get re-elected.No amount of sufi saints dead and living can come to his rescue!Unwelcome,though he is but knowing no shame,he went ahead with his futile visit.
March 9, 2013 3:25 pm
The same is happening in India as every problem India faced is blamed on Pakistan , china and Bangladesh, isn't it
March 9, 2013 3:25 pm
Shirk is the highest form of sin. Allah SWT can forgive all sins except assigning partners with Him. The PM of the so called Muslim country - Pakistan has just done this shirk; when he opted to pray at the grave at ajmer.
March 9, 2013 4:05 pm
Can we ask out indian friends to just keep this guy
F Khan
March 9, 2013 4:11 pm
Instead of going to Ajmer RPA should have gone to the Lahore where a mob had burnt hundreds of houses of christian community.....
Md Imran
March 9, 2013 4:23 pm
humanuman, a man without religion is like banana peel with no fruit inside ! 65 yrs ago we decided we cannot live together as we have a different culture and more importantly a different religion and we established our own nation. Sure, we have had some issues of late, but anybody will tell you Pakistanis and Pakistan is doing far better than India in every indicator than India. Our nuclear weapons has helped us perch to the top of ummah nations and gets us respect and admiration. And never ever will we ever let go our belief in Allah or his beloved prophet (PBUH). There is only one god and that is Allah.
March 9, 2013 4:39 pm
I dont know why did the PM of Pakistan choose to visit India when it was known that he is not welcome.
Mustafa Razavi
March 9, 2013 4:53 pm
Good to see Ashraf gone from here for a few days, you can keep him, he can be your minister for rental power or rented minister for power.
March 9, 2013 5:29 pm
Jahalat has no bound. The only pilgrimage encouraged is that of Mecca, Medina and Al-Quds. Mt. Sinai (Jabl-Al-Lawz in S. Arabia) carry more weight where Moses (AS) received Torah, yet people do not visit the Mountain. "Do not make grave (s) a place of worship" Hadith Al-Bukhari. Then what can one expect from the Jahils Governing Pakistan. May Allah guide them. A'ameen.
March 9, 2013 6:23 pm
What a joke! Mr Prime Minister there was no need for spending public funds on this visit. once again PPP has let down the entire Pakistani nation. There are other more serious issues requiring immediate attention-visiting Ajmer was not important and you have also committed serious sin by not attending to the needs of helpless citizens who are dying because of inaction of your government, as Prime Minister you are accountable for all these deaths.
Rafiq Ahmed
March 9, 2013 6:25 pm
If you have nothing nice to say, don't say it.
Sumit Pratap Singh
March 9, 2013 6:43 pm
we allowed pm raja ashraf to visit shrine because many sikhs come to Pakistan for there shrine and if anything of this sort would have happened then we don't want our sikh brothers to suffer in that as they have suffered a lot during partition
March 10, 2013 8:25 pm
He thinks Khawaja Chishti of Ajmer will 'save' him from 'what goes around, comes around'.
March 9, 2013 7:59 pm
I wonder if he is asking for Forgiveness of sins against God or Forgiveness for the alleged crimes against the Citizens of Pakistan. If he thinks salvation can be earned by paying a visit to an honorable Saint and by donating to a shrine will purify ill gotten money; he is misguided.
munir ahmad
March 9, 2013 8:37 pm
Does Raja Perwaiz Ashraf think that visiting the holy shrine can expiate the crimes he has comitted to the people of his country.Even Allah will not forgive violations of human rights.Where do Khawaja of Ajmer stand?He has cheated the nation with billions of rupees in rental power scandal.Cases of corruption are proved against him in the investigations.I wonder how he faces the foriegn dinitaries with such blemish on his faceThe only way open to him is to return the looted money, beg pardon from the nation and ALLAH and then he should hope for forgiveness.Moreover Khawaja Mueenuddin Chisti never liked the company of the rulers and the rich, and now all corrupt rulers and violators of human rights throng at his dargha.Such an irreconcible situation:
March 9, 2013 10:59 pm
Give the guy a break. He's just on a religious visit.
Julie C
March 10, 2013 2:59 pm
How does this visit have anything to do with peace with India? The wishful RPP guy is there to ask for expiation, so he could start over ripping Pakistan again.
ZI Ahmed
March 10, 2013 1:39 am
It is a pity that our prime minister visits shrines. If he had time he should have travelled to Makkah and Madinah.
March 10, 2013 2:54 am
March 10, 2013 4:12 am
what a waste of Public fund!! Before he leaves the office, he wanted to do this personal visit on government fund. He started with Umra on government fund and now this.. Simply pathetic!!
March 10, 2013 5:10 am
I like the fact that Indian Sikhs visit Pakistan for religious purposes. It is heartening to see Pakistani folk at Ajmer. ~~~~~however , what is strange is : * What is so special about Ajmer ?*
Riase M.
March 10, 2013 5:20 am
No we have no common ground. We have Pakistan. Thank God.
Haroon Rooha
March 10, 2013 5:20 am
There can be no peace with kafirs.See what the Muslims are doing to their christian countrymen.Indian be very aware.The Muslims canno are not allowed to be in peace with non muslims by Allaha's dictats in the quraan.
Ashok Kumar
March 10, 2013 5:23 am
Welcome PM Mr. Raja Pervez Ashraf to India. May peace and prosperity prevail in both India and Pakistan.
Nazir K Ali
March 10, 2013 5:55 am
A futile and useless visit. Nothing fruitful or positive but more of an act done impulsively. Do not worry Rajaji and Zardari, in five years your party has buried itself up to the neck. You are not coming back to power. Salams
March 10, 2013 7:02 am
you can keep him
March 10, 2013 7:17 am
Pakistan will go down in history as the worst country ever created, a living ignominy of the worst kind One is compelled to wonder what is wrong with this country and its people and its government even. My heart goes out to all the minorities ( Hindus, Sikhs, Christians, Parsis, Buddhists, Bahais, Boris, Ahmadiyyas, Ismailis, and Shias) in this God-forsaken land where minorities live in constant fear and are walking on eggs all the time. Poor people having to pay the price of just being allowed to live on a day to day basis under the terror and oppression of the sub-humans that surround them. What a life! This country is turning out to be a disgrace on all mankind. A day will hopefully soon come when the rest of the world will decide it has had enough of this Islamic fundamentalism, and will either wipe the Islamists of the face of this planet or isolate them in every way, barring them from any kind of communication or parley with the civilized world.
Moosa Khan
March 10, 2013 7:59 pm
He better had visited families of people died in recent blasts in Pakistan.
March 10, 2013 5:11 pm
"where people from last 3 generations have not changed their mentality about the Pak."...hey dude...open your eyes....the whole world started to hate you for your dids.....wake up....
March 10, 2013 7:41 pm
shrine? ... for throwing away the taxpayer's money ... gr8 work ... earlier 1 million dollars were given by zardari ... dont we hav beter usage of money here in pakistan, then to be spent on a shrine?
Mohan Menon
March 10, 2013 1:10 pm
You are absolutely correct.Pakistan is in every sense similar to India if not better.In fact you don't have problems unlike India,only some routine minor bomb blasts,little ethnic cleansing,very efficient government and democracy.I would tell you Pakistan is better off than India.good night,sweet dreams again:-)
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