ISLAMABAD, March 5: Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf will travel to India on Saturday for pilgrimage to the shrine of great Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer Sharif.
“The prime minister will go to India on March 9 on a private visit. Details of the trip are still being worked out,” a spokesman for the PM House said on Tuesday.
It is being said that Mr Ashraf would not be meeting any of the Indian leaders during his first visit as the country’s prime minister.
The spokesman insisted that it was premature to speak about the prime minister’s engagements during his daylong stay because the Foreign Office was still working out the visit programme.
The Indian government, he said, had not yet cleared the visit.
President Asif Ali Zardari visited India last April for pilgrimage to the Ajmer shrine. He donated $1 million to the shrine which is revered greatly in Pakistan.
Although Mr Zardari’s visit had also been described as a private visit, his luncheon meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh gave a fresh impetus to the peace process which seemed to be slowing down.
Mr Ashraf’s private visit too comes at a time when there is an unannounced halt in bilateral peace talks in the aftermath of the cross-LoC incidents in January.
Indian diplomats maintain that Pakistani prime minister will not be having any official engagement during the visit.
Pakistani leaders have quite often used unconventional ways to take forward the crisis-ridden relations. Therefore, an uneventful visit may look strange but it is not impossible altogether given that Mr Ashraf’s government would be completing its tenure a week later.
The custodian of the shrine of Hazrat Khwaja Gharib Nawaz’s (Moinuddin Chishti) shrine, Bilal Chishti, visited Pakistan twice last year --- in December and August. He had extended an invitation to Prime Minister Ashraf to visit the shrine and prime minister accepted the invitation.