President Zardari to make ‘personal’ visit to India

Published: April 1, 2012

Indian media reports that Zardari will visit Ajmer to pay respects at Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti's shrine. PHOTO: EXPRESS/FILE

ISLAMABAD: President Asif Ali Zardari is expected soon to make the first visit to India by a Pakistani head of state since 2005, with relations between the nuclear-armed rivals at their warmest in years.   

Zardari’s spokesman said on Sunday that the visit would be personal but held out the possibility that it could be official. Indian media quoted government sources there as saying they hoped there would be formal talks.

“It has been on the cards, and now it is confirmed,” spokesman Farhatullah Babar told Reuters.

“It was supposed to be a private visit. But what it turns out (to be) finally, whether private, official, or private (and) official has yet to be confirmed,” he added.

Lasting Pakistan-India peace is seen as vital to South Asian stability and to smoothing a dangerous transition in Afghanistan as most Nato combat forces prepare to withdraw by the end of 2014.

The atmosphere between the two has improved after a flurry of high-level meetings and Pakistan’s recent promise to award its neighbour most favoured nation trade status.

Zardari is expected to visit a shrine to a revered Sufi saint in the Indian city of Ajmer.

Indian newspapers, citing government sources, said that Indian officials were making efforts to hold political discussions during the visit.

In November, Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh met in the Maldives and promised to open a new chapter in their troubled history.

Reader Comments (45)

  • Yash
    Apr 1, 2012 - 1:29PM

    and this will be done at the cost of pakistani citizens’ taxpayers money??…

    if manmohan singh (being a sikh) visits any country (including pakistan) on a “religious” trip without any official purpose….he will have to resign from prime minister’s post

    zardari better make it an official trip if its taking finance from the govt of pakistan

    if hez paying from his pocket…then its kinda fine

    Recommend

  • Apr 1, 2012 - 1:30PM

    Vienna,April 1,2012
    Pilgrimage ? Where? Ajmer, the famous for centuries? Haji Malang
    hill near Bombay the favourite of Bollywood stars? or Shirdi Saibaba
    the Muslim-Hindu, Hindu-Muslim Sindhi saint in Maharashtra where
    a Pakistani parliamentary delegation visited only a few weeks ago?
    Taravadu Taranga Trust for Media Monitoring TTTMM India
    —Kulamarva Balakrishna

    Recommend

  • true_blue_pakistani
    Apr 1, 2012 - 2:07PM

    Visiting religious place makes a person better. So many of our leaders & officials visited Mecca on government expenses and none objected it. Visiting a nearby place by our president not a big deal.

    Recommend

  • Ravish
    Apr 1, 2012 - 2:26PM

    @truebluepakistani: As an atheist, I beg to differ.

    Recommend

  • jagjit sidhoo
    Apr 1, 2012 - 2:33PM

    Pakistan have many better people like ADBUL SATTAR EDHI(he is top of list) a visit by one of them would definitely help improve relations Recommend

  • Raj
    Apr 1, 2012 - 2:47PM

    @Yash:
    no need to be so self righteous. Our President has spent 205 crores(41 mn US $) only on transport itself on her so called official visits with friends and families. The government is mum on this topic.

    Recommend

  • zalim singh
    Apr 1, 2012 - 3:12PM

    Dear Zardari sir

    you are warmly welcome. Dil se.

    Recommend

  • misaffiri
    Apr 1, 2012 - 3:17PM

    Welcome to India

    Recommend

  • adam
    Apr 1, 2012 - 3:28PM

    whatever, good move, keep it up we need this kind of clean trips without poltical agenda. we need to give politics and diplomacy a break and work on tourism and peace.

    Recommend

  • sick of this nonsense
    Apr 1, 2012 - 3:39PM

    its his personal matter. Personal religious views should not be our concern.

    Recommend

  • Its (still) the Economy Stupid
    Apr 1, 2012 - 4:52PM

    Personal visits are kept personal. During his personal visit to a Sindhi religious leader this VIP was using rickshaw like an ordinary person, he declined his hosts and official car as he was on a personal religious trip and walked around by himself, without a single bodyguard and no fear for his life. Except his host, no body in town knew who he was till a Pakistan Army plane landed in city of Lucknow to pick him up. He was required back home immediately due to a constitutional crisis (present Chief Justice Iftikar Muhammad Chaudhury had just being fired) back home. The decision to make this man the acting Chief Justice, a key demand made by Chaudhury, was made public by Law Minister Wasi Jafar. This man was on a month’s leave for a pilgrimage to India and was due to return on March 22.He was required back home to be sworn in as Acting Chief Justice of Pak. The name of this simple man is Justice Rana Bhagwan Das

    Recommend

  • Sarah Khan
    Apr 1, 2012 - 5:21PM

    who cares

    Recommend

  • Not me
    Apr 1, 2012 - 5:33PM

    London now India………………..yes there are no problems in Pakistan.
    Our President is free to travel all over on private vists
    in London Zardari goes by Chartered plane and paid according to news Rs 70 lacs as parking fees.wonder where is all this money is coming from

    Recommend

  • M. R@fique Zakaria
    Apr 1, 2012 - 5:50PM

    My only request to our President is to ask the Indian government to relax visa rules. In the last one year, India has made visa rules very strict and it is practically not possible for any Pakistani national to visit his/her loved ones in India, particularly for those women who are married to Pakistani nationals.

    Zardari’s visit will only be considered beneficial if he succeeds in convincing the Indian government in relaxing visa regime. I am sure our President will not come empty handed from India.

    M. RAFIQUE ZAKARIA
    Karachi

    Recommend

  • khalil ahmad
    Apr 1, 2012 - 7:13PM

    Its a sensible initiative.Both India n Pakistan need to live like good neighbors in order to ensure safe future for the generations to come.
    Khalil Ahmad
    Multan

    Recommend

  • Raj - USA
    Apr 1, 2012 - 7:20PM

    To me, it looks like that some major changes are happening around that region and in the US & NATO led Afghan war. Zardari mush have some significant reason to visit India.

    Recommend

  • BlackJack
    Apr 1, 2012 - 7:21PM

    @Yash:
    I don’t think we have the right to take the high moral ground here; no doubt this trip pales in comparison to the frivolous expenses by our public representatives. Further, we have no quarrel with Zardari – the PPP has taken a lot of unpopular (and hence courageous) steps to find common ground with India. Hope he has a good trip.

    Recommend

  • Chulbul Pandey
    Apr 1, 2012 - 7:28PM

    @Raj – USA:

    Mr. Raj, I like reading your posts. But this one has me amused – you sound like someone buying into/creating conspiracies justifying the simplest of events. A case of following Pakistani politics and psyche too much? :)

    Recommend

  • Yash
    Apr 1, 2012 - 7:39PM

    @Raj:

    and we are the same people who, when obama comes with huge security, planes, official limousine etc question “look at american prez…wat does indian prez have??”

    and now u talk about expenses….i dunno wat shud i understand

    indian prez (although kinda corrupt) “at least” doesnt go on “personal” visits to foreign countries on govt funds

    Recommend

  • Deepwater
    Apr 1, 2012 - 7:44PM

    My bet is that this is a diplomatic initiative and not just a personal visit. A state visit would raise expectations. This way, he can travel there and not be in the spotlight.

    Recommend

  • Yash
    Apr 1, 2012 - 7:45PM

    @BlackJack:

    look i dont have a prob with him visiting india…every1 is welcomed in india….the point is that a “personal” visit shud be done with “personal” expenses….no doubt being the prez of pak he ll have much of security n all…bt he shud pay for it…else wats the diff between him and our beloved mayawati??

    Recommend

  • Hairaan
    Apr 1, 2012 - 7:54PM

    You may never know if he paid from his pocket or ours.

    Recommend

  • Pollack
    Apr 1, 2012 - 8:02PM

    Zardari has turned out to be a better person as a leader than what most people thought he would be. He even had the courage to butt heads with the army but had to give in to the army on occasions . That’s understandable because that’s how Pakistan power structure is setup currently. But he deserves credit fo trying to shake things up.

    Recommend

  • Jp
    Apr 1, 2012 - 9:08PM

    I appreciate his plan to visit India whether personal or official. He has shown the courage to visit an enemy country despite all criticism from his opponents. Our PM MMS also should show the reciprocal gesture

    Recommend

  • Aftab Kenneth Wilson
    Apr 1, 2012 - 9:10PM

    Good and timely. A President of our country will visit India, its neighbor, should not raise eye brows of any person. See it in a positive way. Also a gesture of goodwill from both the countries which earnestly needs visits from highest levels.

    Recommend

  • Babloo
    Apr 1, 2012 - 9:38PM

    Remember General Zia ? He used to turn up in India every few months, going to Ajmer or Jaipur or to watch a cricket match. He sent his son also to study in India. He enjoyed the hospitality and the religious freedoms India offers but that did not stop him from following repressive measures against Hindus in his country and supporting separatist groups. India should be very professional, without any emotion, when dealing with Pakistan and its politicians.

    Recommend

  • Raj - USA
    Apr 1, 2012 - 9:40PM

    @Chulbul Pandey:
    You may be right. I may be thinking too much into this.

    Recommend

  • Apr 1, 2012 - 10:22PM

    What’s the point visiting india in the year of elections.

    Recommend

  • Raj
    Apr 1, 2012 - 10:24PM

    @Yash:
    Well if she is not doing anything worthy on her official trips, but is taking huge group of people with her which includes her extended family members, then it’s effectively a personal trip but sponsored by tax payers like you and me.

    As far as Obama is concerned, people will always talk. You can’t stop them, neither we should compare ourselves with a country who is having 40 times of our per capita GDP to start with, leave alone HDI and standard of living and education.

    Recommend

  • Yash
    Apr 1, 2012 - 11:02PM

    @Raj:

    i want to but m pretty reluctant to agree with u….although i agree on part that she shouldnt take any1 with her except maybe her husband and some officials….

    u cant say shez not doing anything…one example is that after her visit india now has an army hosp n air force base in tajikistan

    and dude…prez anyway doesnt have any powers…state visits are made as goodwill gestures as far as indian prez is considered..which are in fact very imp in world scenario..case is diff with chinese prez…in china theres one govt…prez is the head…just like in usa…premier is just an assistant (although called a “premier”…practically its equivalent to “Secretary of state” position of usa)

    in india its not the case….prez is out of the main govt and political system (at least officially)

    coming back to obama….the arrangements for his visit are for the show of american MIGHT…dats it…saw it properly on a documentary on Air Force One

    nevertheless….although she has done quite a lot of humanitarian work…i agree with ur statement indian prez is not inspirational and has not lived upto the mark…and is absolutely NOTHING compared to APJ Abdul Kalam

    anyway….lets leave india china and obama….the matter is about pakistan

    Recommend

  • Yash
    Apr 1, 2012 - 11:07PM

    @Raj:

    and as far as comparison with USA is concerned…i dunno which country should i compare india with….

    growing economy, heavily industrialized…one of the biggest agriculture production, emerging tech hub etc etc as well as people with most poverty, heavy illiteracy, highest number of aids cases, lack of infrastructure etc etc

    all the good things and bad things there….kinda “balanced”

    so i suppose in that case…a person is eligible to compare india with any damn country right from somalia to USA n CHINA….right??

    Recommend

  • Thoughtful
    Apr 2, 2012 - 12:28AM

    Remember Musharrafs visit?

    Recommend

  • Urooj Hussein
    Apr 2, 2012 - 12:40AM

    Mr. President, Can you take me with you?? I also want to visit the Sufi saint shrine & have never been to India.

    Recommend

  • Saad
    Apr 2, 2012 - 12:50AM

    Wonder how regular umra visits by the chief of army staff, military cadres and PML-N led Punjab government officials never evokes an outcry.

    Recommend

  • dv sikka
    Apr 2, 2012 - 2:27AM

    May be he os going for his training from Indian leaders as to how they loot their country.

    Recommend

  • Pro Bono Publico
    Apr 2, 2012 - 3:08AM

    @truebluepakistani:
    Which Quran permits grave worship? Which Quran allows creation of “saints”?

    Recommend

  • Cynical
    Apr 2, 2012 - 3:32AM

    @Urooj Hussein

    Iam with you on this one.Please don’t leave me behind, if you succeed in your appeal to the President.

    Recommend

  • CK
    Apr 2, 2012 - 3:49AM

    I hope he stays in India and doesn’t come back.

    Recommend

  • jagjit sidhoo
    Apr 2, 2012 - 9:05AM

    @CK: Please do not expect us to keep him we have enough problems with our own politicians.

    Recommend

  • Yash
    Apr 2, 2012 - 9:27AM

    @jagjit sidhoo:
    @CK:

    actually u both are correct from ur respective point of views…:)

    Recommend

  • Singh
    Apr 2, 2012 - 9:38AM

    It is matter of fact that Mr. Zardari done more for democracy in Pakistan than any of his predecessor. At least you guys should give him a credit what he did constitutional. He deserve kudos for that. I read Pakistan News paper since net become popular & watch different channel also. He may be corrupt but he lay first brick of democracy in Pakistan which you should support to succeed. Future depend upon you.

    Recommend

  • Apr 2, 2012 - 9:46AM

    @Hairaan:

    A president like Zardari whose travelling budget is more than the education budget, what would you expect that he would pay from his pocket.

    Recommend

  • Yasir
    Apr 2, 2012 - 11:01AM

    Dear Indians, any chance of keeping him over there? Thanks

    Recommend

  • Jai
    Apr 2, 2012 - 11:50AM

    @Yasir,
    No thanks, we have our own several Mr 100% people to contend with. Must be something in South Asian DNA that we all get so many corrupt leaders.

    Recommend

  • Ali
    Apr 3, 2012 - 1:06AM

    Religious trip to “India”, seriously? What’s of so much religious important there? The river Ganges I suppose….

    Recommend

More in Pakistan