‘Not welcome’: India sends out mixed signals on PM’s visit

Indian foreign minister calls for respecting Ashraf’s ‘private’ visit.


Aditi Phadnis March 09, 2013
Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf. PHOTO: PID

NEW DELHI/ AJMER:


The head of the shrine of Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer Sharif made it amply clear that Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf was not welcome, even though its top diplomat Salman Khurshid scrambled to dispel any such notion.


However, reports later in the day suggested that the spiritual leader took back his words, and said he would not oppose the visist.

Prime Minister Ashraf, along with his family, is due to begin a day-long private trip today to the shrine, in what will be his first trip to India as prime minister.

“I will not welcome the Pakistani prime minister during his visit here in protest against the (alleged) beheading of Indian soldiers by the Pakistani Army on the LoC. The incident hurt Indians but their (Pakistan) government does not understand our sentiments; so I took the decision,” the shrine chief told reporters in Ajmer earlier in the day.

However, the Dargah committee has decided to give the Pakistani prime minister a grand reception suggesting the shrine chief and the committee are at odds with each other.

Notably, PM Ashraf will not be visiting New Delhi.

His visit had already gotten a thumbs-down from Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who was speaking in parliament. Singh made it a point to refer to Pakistan and said India cannot have normal ties with Pakistan “unless and until the terror machine which is still active in Pakistan is brought under control.”

In response, Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar said on Friday Pakistan was committed to resolving all outstanding issues with India through dialogue.

Published in The Express Tribune, March 9th, 2013.

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