Sunday, April 8, 2012


Prime Minister Manmohan Singh with Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari along with his son Bilwal Bhutto Zardari the Chairman of the ruling Peoples Party of Pakistan  PPP along with the delegation to embarks a day-long trip to India today to visit Ajmer and to attend a luncheon being hosted in his honour by Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
  This is  the first ever visit of President Zardari to India as President of Pakistan, to provide a chance to promote bilateral relations between the two countries.According to a Pak Foreign Office spokesman, the president will travel to the city of Ajmer to pay homage at the Dargah of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, a famous Sufi Muslim saint.
"President Asif Ali Zardari will leave for Ajmer Shareef on Sunday for 'Ziarat' and to offer prayers at the shrine of Hazrat Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti and will return the same day," said the spokesman.
Further spokesman said the president has also accepted a luncheon invitation of Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh in New Delhi en route to Ajmer Shareef.He said that the President's delegation to New Delhi would consist of Chairman of Pakistan People's Party and his son Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani and his personal and security staff.
President Zardari will be the first Pakistani head of state to visit India in seven years after the visit of President Pervez Musharraf in 2005.
"Although the visit is private, but the two leaders will discuss all the issues and it will contribute towards achieving the President's vision to promote intra-regional peace and prosperity in this part of the world," said the spokesman.
He said, "We are looking forward for a constructive engagement between the two leaders in New Delhi."
The spokesman said, "Obviously during the lunch the issues, which continue to take priority in our bilateral relations, will be discussed."
According to diplomatic sources, important issues between the two countries, including Jammu Kashmir, Siachen, Sir Creek, visa liberalisation, trade, water as well as regional situation, could be discussed at the luncheon meeting , which will pave the way for further enhancing and promoting bilateral relations.
The invitation to the Indian Prime Minister to visit Pakistan will be reiterated in this meeting as it has already been extended by Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar during her visit to India in July 2011.
Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani also extended the invitation to his Indian counterpart to visit Pakistan during the SAARC summit in Maldives in November 2011 and their meeting in Seoul in March.
Pakistan president and his delegation is under Top level security
India will provide highest level of security to the delegation of President Asif Ali Zardari during their one-day pilgrimage to Ajmer Sharif.
Government sources said advance liaison team from Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MOFA) arrived in Delhi on Friday to tie up security and logistics for Zardari's trip and had day-long meetings with their counterparts from the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA).
As Zardari is expected to reach Ajmer around 5pm, he may offer "Asr" namaz at the holy shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti. He will fly out from Jaipur the same day.At the lunch hosted by Manmohan Singh, Indian ministers, National Security Advisor and foreign secretary will be present. Media speculates on home minister P Chidambaram to be present to meet Rehman Malik as he goes to his constituency Sivaganga on every weekend.
Bilawal,aged 24  who took over as PPP Chairman when he was 19, following the death of his mother Benazir Bhtto in 2007, figures in the guest list for the lunch hosted by Mr Manmohan Singh at his Race Course Road residence.Media sources said Congress General Secretary Rahul Gandhi may also be at the lunch and the two young leaders from India and Pakistan may get to talk.Mr Bilawal appointed Chairman of PPP on December 30, 2007 when he was at Oxford. He returned to Pakistan and became active in politics last year, particularly when Mr Zardari went for medical care to Dubai amid speculation that the President may quit.
Media agencies

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