Ajmer, Hindi, 28 Rabi’ul Akhir 1434/ 10 March 2013 (MINA) – Pakistan’s Premier Raja Pervez Ashraf on Saturday prayed for peace in his country at a 13th-century Muslim shrine in northern India on a lightning visit in which politics was kept off the agenda.
Ashraf and his family prayed at the revered shrine of Sufi saint Hazrat Khwaja Gharib Nawaz in the Indian desert state of Rajasthan, and was slated to return to Islamabad later on Saturday, AFP reported.
“I wish for peace in the world and for peace and prosperity in Pakistan,” Ashraf wrote in Urdu in the visitors’ book after spending half an hour at the shrine in Ajmer, 130 kilometres from the tourist city of Jaipur, according to jammu.greaterkashmir.com report monitored by Mi’raj News Agency (MINA), Sunday.
Ashraf’s prayer for peace came hours after a bomb blast inside a mosque on Saturday killed six people and wounded 28 others in Pakistan’s northwestern city of Peshawar, officials said.
Pakistan’s parliament is due to dissolve in less than two weeks ahead of elections but rising sectarian violence has raised serious worries over security.
Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid earlier hosted a lunch for Ashraf at the Rambagh Palace, a luxury heritage hotel in Jaipur.
He said he was welcoming the Pakistani leader with “open arms,” despite a chill in ties between the neighbour over recent border clashes.
“It’s in our culture to welcome our guests with open arms,” said Khurshid, adding controversial topics such as alleged sponsorship of cross-border militancy by Pakistan were not discussed.
“Today it was a private visit. There were no official talks. We will do it at the appropriate time,” Khurshid said.
Ashraf was the most senior Pakistani to visit India since last April when President Asif Ali Zardari made a similar pilgrimage and had lunch with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
Some Indians, including the symbolic spiritual head of the Ajmer shrine Zainul Abedin Ali Khan, objected to Ashraf’s pilgrimage.
Khan had said he would refuse to assist Ashraf during the prayers.
“I expected the Pakistan prime minister to bring back the head of the Indian martyr, tender an apology to the people of India and the family of the soldier,” Khan said.
However, his decision did not affect the Pakistani premier’s visit because other shrine members assisted Ashraf, officials at the religious site said. (T/P011/E1)
Mi’raj News Agency (MINA)