Pervez picks up Agra threads

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  • Published 13.04.05

New Delhi, April 13: Pervez Musharraf wants to pick up from where he left off three years ago: by offering prayers at Moinuddin Chishti?s dargah in Ajmer.

When the Pakistan President came to India in 2002 for the Agra summit with then Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, he had wanted to visit the dargah. But bad weather had scuttled his Ajmer plans like bad vibes the summit.

This time, he does not want to take any chances. He wants to kick off his three-day visit with a prayer to Garib Nawaz, one of South Asia?s most popular Sufi saints. A few weeks ago, former Pakistan Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto and husband Asif Zardari had visited the dargah.

South Block officials are still trying to work out the security drill for the Ajmer visit. ?We are still not very sure whether from the security point of view it is going to work as a big festival will be held at the dargah the day he is supposed to go there,? a foreign ministry official said.

Although Prime Minister Manmohan Singh said yesterday Musharraf was coming on a ?friendly visit?, the red carpets being dusted in Delhi suggest bigger things. Musharraf is likely to land here on Saturday morning with a 50-plus delegation.

Apart from wife Sehba, the President will be accompanied by foreign minister Khursheed Mehmood Kasuri as well as the commerce and information and broadcasting ministers. A 30-plus media team is likely to come with him. From India, Musharraf will leave for Manila and Jakarta.

As of now, Musharraf is scheduled to return from Ajmer by Saturday afternoon. He will then meet Congress president Sonia Gandhi and foreign minister K. Natwar Singh. In the evening, he will have a meeting with the Prime Minister, who will also host dinner for him.

On Sunday, he will spend some time watching the Indo-Pak one-dayer at the Ferozeshah Kotla. Then he will lunch with President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam. Dinner will be hosted by Pakistani high commissioner Aziz Ahmed Khan.

During the day, the Pakistan President is likely to have another round of talks with the Prime Minister. If all goes well, a joint statement is likely at the end of the visit.