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PM Ashraf to make first visit to India

March 05, 2013

Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf. – File Photo by APP

NEW DELHI: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf will visit India for the first time this week for a day-long pilgrimage to a shrine, officials in both countries said Tuesday.

“Pakistan's prime minister will be in India on Saturday. This is a private visit and he will be accompanied by his family and other officials,” an Indian government official said on condition of anonymity.

“He is not expected to meet any Indian political leaders. This is clearly a religious and spiritual trip,” he told AFP.

Ashraf and his family are expected to pray at the shrine of Sufi saint Hazrat Khwaja Gharib Nawaz in Ajmer Sharif, some 400 kilometres west of New Delhi.

A senior Pakistani government official confirmed that Ashraf would make a private visit to India on Saturday, but said the details were being finalised.

“The details, including his program, what he will do there and who he will meet, are being worked out,” the official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

Ashraf will be the most senior Pakistani to visit India since last April when President Asif Ali Zardari embarked on a similar pilgrimage and then had lunch with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

Tensions between the neighbours came under fresh strain in January when six soldiers were killed in exchanges along the de facto border in Kashmir, a region claimed by both countries.

The situation has calmed since a ceasefire was agreed between the two armies at the end of January.

India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir.