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PM Ashraf prays at Ajmer shrine


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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.

Comments (63) Closed

Pakistani Mar 11, 2013 07:23am
And the Indian establishment and military are systemically friendly and accomodating to Pakistan!!
Pakistani Mar 11, 2013 07:29am
India is the root cause of majority of the problems. Read what Senator Hagel said about India
Shruti Mar 11, 2013 08:33am
I hope you meant that sarcastically! Because I don't think moderate Muslims are intolerant!
Shruti Mar 11, 2013 08:40am
Salman Khurshid is a diplomat. Diplomacy is 'politically correct'. And even in conflict, one must respect one's opposition.
Sanjay Mar 10, 2013 06:54pm
No way..He is better off in Pakistan.
Shruti Mar 11, 2013 08:45am
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.
G,Nabi Mar 10, 2013 07:54am
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) Mar 10, 2013 07:50am
Visit, well & good. Who paid the expenses ? It was n't an official visit, he took his family & friends along.
Rx Mar 11, 2013 04:29am
What dictats?
Dr. A. K. Biswas Mar 09, 2013 06:07am
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.
Ajay Mar 09, 2013 06:36am
Wellcome!!! let there be peace.
rsk Mar 09, 2013 08:00am
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.
Gautam Mar 09, 2013 09:26am
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 Mar 09, 2013 09:28am
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.
observer Mar 09, 2013 09:42am
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 Mar 09, 2013 10:00am
Good to see Mr. Ashraf in India. Wish him a pleasant stay.
Kadir Khan Mar 09, 2013 10:02am
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.
Zafar Mar 09, 2013 10:51am
Isn't this the story of both the countries?
D Mar 09, 2013 11:19am
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.
my Mar 09, 2013 11:28am
what a nice photo!
Fraz Ahmad Mar 09, 2013 11:35am
What about Pak soldiers. R they nt Human Beings.
humanuman Mar 09, 2013 11:46am
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 Mar 10, 2013 01:45pm
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) Mar 09, 2013 01:05pm
If hypocrisy can bring peace, it is acceptable. :)
fasihul Haque khan Mar 09, 2013 01:21pm
It is good to Foreign Minister of India has welcome Raja pervez of,PM of pakistan weith his open and extented hospitality
Azmat Khan Mar 09, 2013 02:03pm
ajay, this is our wish too.
Azmat Khan Mar 09, 2013 02:05pm
very true doctor sahib
Azmat Khan Mar 09, 2013 02:06pm
pl. same case is with india
Azmat Khan Mar 09, 2013 02:09pm
thank you. we too have good toughts about you, our neighbours.
Azmat Khan Mar 09, 2013 02:14pm
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.
MKB Mar 09, 2013 02:51pm
No more soft talk with Pakistan.But Pak PM visit should be taken as pilgrimage and he is welcome.
Awara Mar 09, 2013 03:22pm
Bravo-- your house on Fire and the person responsible is on Tour.... Have a great vacation... Politicians all the same.
riz Mar 09, 2013 03:25pm
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.
Khan Mar 09, 2013 03:25pm
The same is happening in India as every problem India faced is blamed on Pakistan , china and Bangladesh, isn't it
jeff Mar 09, 2013 03:25pm
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.
omer Mar 09, 2013 04:05pm
Can we ask out indian friends to just keep this guy
F Khan Mar 09, 2013 04:11pm
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 Mar 09, 2013 04:23pm
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.
surinder Mar 09, 2013 04:39pm
I dont know why did the PM of Pakistan choose to visit India when it was known that he is not welcome.
Mustafa Razavi Mar 09, 2013 04:53pm
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.
Waqqas Mar 09, 2013 05:29pm
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.
kirther Mar 09, 2013 06:23pm
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 Mar 09, 2013 06:25pm
If you have nothing nice to say, don't say it.
Sumit Pratap Singh Mar 09, 2013 06:43pm
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
Naila Mar 10, 2013 08:25pm
He thinks Khawaja Chishti of Ajmer will 'save' him from 'what goes around, comes around'.
TKhan Mar 09, 2013 07:59pm
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 Mar 09, 2013 08:37pm
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:
Akram Mar 09, 2013 10:59pm
Give the guy a break. He's just on a religious visit.
Julie C Mar 10, 2013 02:59pm
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 Mar 10, 2013 01:39am
It is a pity that our prime minister visits shrines. If he had time he should have travelled to Makkah and Madinah.
ABDUL KADER AHMED Mar 10, 2013 02:54am
Syed Mar 10, 2013 04:12am
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!!
ahmed41 Mar 10, 2013 05:10am
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. Mar 10, 2013 05:20am
No we have no common ground. We have Pakistan. Thank God.
Haroon Rooha Mar 10, 2013 05:20am
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 Mar 10, 2013 05:23am
Welcome PM Mr. Raja Pervez Ashraf to India. May peace and prosperity prevail in both India and Pakistan.
Nazir K Ali Mar 10, 2013 05:55am
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
undying_lament Mar 10, 2013 07:02am
you can keep him
Louis Mar 10, 2013 07:17am
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 Mar 10, 2013 07:59pm
He better had visited families of people died in recent blasts in Pakistan.
kaly Mar 10, 2013 05:11pm
"where people from last 3 generations have not changed their mentality about the Pak."...hey your eyes....the whole world started to hate you for your dids.....wake up....
syedsarosh Mar 10, 2013 07:41pm
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 Mar 10, 2013 01:10pm
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:-)