Terror not discussed with Pak PM, Khurshid says; Army chief refuses comment on visit

Last Updated: Sat, Mar 09, 2013 10:15 hrs

Jaipur: External affairs minister Salman Khurshid on Saturday hosted a lunch for Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf but did not discuss issues like terrorism with him.

"This was a private visit. It was a pilgrimage (for Ashraf). This was not the occasion nor did I have the authority to discuss such issues," he told reporters after the lunch at Rambagh Palace Hotel here.

He was replying to a question whether terrorism was discussed with his guest.

"We have taken up such issues. We will do it in future. Today it was a private visit. There was no official talk. We will do it at the appropriate time," Khurshid said.

Khwaja wants Ashraf to come, Khurshid says

"Khwaja wants him to come" was how external affairs minister Salman Khurshid on Saturday welcomed Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in Jaipur on way to Ajmer for his pilgrimage.

Both the leaders shook hands and greeted each other warmly before going for lunch at the Rambagh Palace Hotel here.

After lunch, Ashraf and his delegation left for Ajmer to offer prayers at the 13th century dargah of Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Hasan Chisti.

As per schedule, the Pakistani delegation in helicopters will land at Ghughara helipad near Ajmer at 3.30pm and from there reach the Dargah covering a distance of 12.5 km.

They will be greeted at the main gate of the dargah by the representatives of dargah committee and committee of Khadims. From there Ashraf will reach the main shrine after passing from Buland Darwaja and others.

Ashraf will be welcomed by beating of drums and a turban tying ceremony will take place as per tradition.

After the ziyarat, the delegation will return in evening by helicopters to Jaipur airport and from there fly back to Pakistan in a special aircraft.

Army chief Gen Bikram Singh refuses to comment on Pak PM's visit

Army chief Gen Bikram Singh on Saturday declined to comment on the visit of Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to India against the backdrop of unease over the killing of two Indian soldiers by the Pakistan army.

"It (visit of Pakistan PM) is a political decision... let's not make an issue out of it. Let the government take the decision. Being an Army chief, I would not like to comment on it," Singh told reporters here.

He was asked to comment on Ashraf's visit to India.

However, he said the Indian Army had already conveyed its concern to the Centre on the issue of ceasefire violations, beheading of an Indian soldier and brutal killing of another soldier by Pakistani troops in January.

"At that time, we showed our concern...We have shown our emotions (to the Centre)," the Army chief, who was here to attend the War Decorated India Triennial National Convention cum Reunion, said.

He said the Indian Army was giving a "befitting" reply to any ceasefire violations by Pakistani troops.

"If they (Pak troops) violate ceasefire, hum bhi churian pehan ke nahin baithe hain (we are not wearing bangles). Our men also fire. This work is done at the tactical level and it is happening," he asserted.

"This action (reacting to ceasefire violations) is seen at the lower level and not decided at the Army Chief's level," he pointed out.

On the strengthening of road infrastructure near Tibet by China, the Army chief said India is also undertaking infrastructure development in its territory.

"China is carrying out development in its own area, we are doing in our area. Infrastructure development is an ongoing process. Each country does it," he said.

Earlier, addressing the gathering, Singh asked ex-servicemen to remain apolitical having been part of the disciplined force.

"I want that our ex-servicemen associations should not get politicised. We need to be disciplined. I am seeing that ex-servicemen associations are becoming political. It should not happen. We are secular and it is important, he asserted.

Lawyers, market association join protest against Pak PM's Ajmer Sharif visit

Local lawyers and the Ajmer Dargah market association on Saturday joined the protest against the visit of Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf in view of the recent brutal killing and beheading of Indian soldiers by Pakistani army.

The move comes a day after the Ajmer Sharif spiritual head said he will boycott the visit of the Pakistan Prime Minister.

"Due to security reasons, the market remains shut during the visit of VVIPs but this time we are closing the shops voluntarily well before the time set by the district administration," Jodha Tekchandani, Dargah Market Association President, said.

"This is to register our protest against the visit of the Pakistan Prime Minister," he said.

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