Zardari likely to come on ‘personal’ visit to India (Lead)

April 1st, 2012 - 8:34 pm ICT by IANS  

Manmohan Singh New Delhi/Islamabad, April 1 (IANS) Against the backdrop of improving bilateral ties, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari is expected to come on a personal visit to India later this month to pay his respects at the revered Sufi shrine at Ajmer Sharif.

Zardari has conveyed to the Indian government his desire to visit the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer, said official sources in New Delhi. The visit is expected to take place around April 8, official sources said.

The request was received by the Indian external affairs ministry a couple of days ago and the government is considering it, the sources said.

In Islamabad, presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar Sunday that said Zardari’s trip was initially planned to be a private visit, but did not rule out the possibility that it could turn into an official one.

There is a possibility that the trip could also provide an opportunity for talks between Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Zardari, said sources in New Delhi.

The two leaders last met on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation (SCO) summit in Yekaterinburg in Russia in 2009.

If Zardari comes to India, he will become the first Pakistani president to visit India after Pervez Musharraf last came here in 2005. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani came to Mohali to watch the World Cup semi-final match in Mohali, Punjab in March last year.

Manmohan Singh and Gilani met on the sidelines of the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul last week and welcomed an upturn in bilateral ties.

India and Pakistan resumed their peace process, which stalled after 26/11 terror attacks, in February last year. Meeting in the Maldives on the sidelines of the SAARC summit in November, Manmohan Singh and Gilani promised to open a new chapter in the history of the troubled India-Pakistan relationship.

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