PM to meet Pak Prez Zardari on April 8
Islamabad: Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari will meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi over lunch on April 8 before making a private visit to the famous 13th century Sufi shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer.
This will be the first visit to India by a Pakistani Head of State since 2005, when then President Pervez Musharraf had travelled to New Delhi.
"The President has accepted the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for lunch in New Delhi en route to Ajmer Sharif on April 8," presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said.
Zardari will visit Ajmer in Rajasthan "on a private visit for ziarat and prayers at the shrine of Hazrat Khwaja Gharib Nawaz", Mr Babar said.
"The President will return to Islamabad the same day," he added.
The visit comes against the backdrop of several steps taken by India and Pakistan in recent months to normalise bilateral relations, especially in trade.
Zardari and Dr Singh had last met on the sidelines of the SCO summit in Russia in 2009.
Earlier in the day, Pakistani officials told PTI that a request for a private visit by President Zardari to Ajmer had been forwarded to the Indian side. The government had kept the visit under wraps as it was originally intended to be a "purely private" matter, officials said.
Though the visit was supposed to be devoid of political or diplomatic content, the officials had not ruled out the possibility of some official meetings as a Pakistani head of state would be visiting India after a long gap.
A presidential aide, who spoke on condition that he would not be named, said Zardaris visit to Ajmer had been in the pipeline for almost a year.
"This visit has been planned since last year as the President wants to make a trip to the dargah in Ajmer," the aide said.
Zardari`s India visit is intended to be purely for religious purposes. However, the Indian government is looking at the possibility to add some political discussions during his day-long visit.
"While as of now, the visit is purely for religious purposes, efforts are being made so that some political discussions could also take place during the day-long trip of Mr Zardari," sources in Delhi said earlier in the day.
India and Pakistan resumed their peace process last year after a gap of over two years in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai terror attacks, which were blamed on the Pakistan-based Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT).
Following several rounds of talks, Pakistan recently switched over to a negative list regime for trade, paving the way to giving India Most Favoured Nation-status by the beginning of next year.
Senior officials of the two sides will hold talks in the coming months on key areas like terrorism, the military standoff on the Siachen glacier and the Sir Creek boundary dispute, and this is expected to be followed by the Indian External Affairs Ministers visit to Islamabad by July.
Zardari is known to be superstitious and his spiritual beliefs have been widely reported in the Pakistani media. According to media reports, one of his rituals is the sacrifice of a black goat to protect him from evil. Scores of black goats have reportedly been sacrificed since Zardari moved into the presidency.
More from India
More from World
More from Sports
More from Entertaiment
- One year of Modi govt: PM promises to fulfil aspirations
- Watch: Mumbai cops find new secret agents in housewives!
- Hundreds die as heat wave continues in India
- 2G scam: Ex-TRAI chief alleges Manmohan Singh had warned him to cooperate
- Pranab Mukherjee defends Bofors scam, says it was just a media trial
- Salman Khan attends sister Arpita's wedding reception in Mandi
- Zee Media's mega survey on Modi govt
- Zee Media Exclusive: Vidya Balan chats about 'Hamari Adhuri Kahani'
- Para athlete Deepa Malik complains of callous service by Air India
- I eat beef, can somebody stop me?: Kiren Rijiju hits back at Naqvi
- Delhi: Visually impaired boy scores 91.4% in CBSE 12th Board exams
- Smriti Irani visits Amethi, promises to pay insurance money to 25,000 women
- One year of Modi govt: Amit Shah addresses media
- MP: 14-year-old boy works as bonded labour since 2009
- UP: Man chops off wife's nose, hair for dowry
- Arpita-Aayush wedding reception: Salman Khan spreads love in Mandi, says `hum aapke hain`
- One year of NDA govt: PM Modi writes open letter to nation, promises to transform India
- CBSE Class 10 Board Result 2015 (cbse.nic.in, cbseresults.nic.in) postponed?
- World optimistic about India: PM Narendra Modi on 1 year of NDA govt
- MSBSHSE Class 12th HSC results 2015 to be declared at 1pm tomorrow
- CBSE Class 10 Board Result 2015 to be announced today
- Check mahresult.nic.in for MSBSHSE Maharashtra Class 12 HSC Result 2015
- Rahul Gandhi takes a dig at one year of Modi govt, wishes 'happy birthday' to 'suit-boot ki sarkar'
- Bharatiya Janata Party lacks majority for Ram Temple, Article 370: Amit Shah
- Maharashtra MSBSHSE HSC Result 2015 on mahresult.nic.in
- AAP govt moves resolution against MHA notification: As it happened
- I was misquoted, says Kiren Rijiju on 'beef' remark
- Heatwave kills 90 more in Andhra, Telangana; toll crosses 800
- Gujjars adamant on holding talks in Bayana; rail tracks remain blocked
- CBSE 10th result to be declared tomorrow