'No substantive discussions with Pak PM': Khurshid

Last Updated: Sat, Mar 09, 2013 10:30 hrs

External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid on Saturday said that he had no formal discussions with Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf, who is on a personal visit to India to offer prayers at the Ajmer Sharif Dargah.

"It was not such an occasion and neither had I got the right at this point of time to raise issues, which we have raised at appropriate times and will continue to do so. There was no formal discussion since it was a personal visit," he told media here, when asked whether he had raised India's concerns on terrorism with the visiting Pakistani Prime Minister.

Khurshid said the Pakistan Prime Minister has arrived India on a personal visit to offer prayers at the Ajmer Sharif Dargah.

"He has now left for Ajmer Sharif from here. I received him here as a courtesy taking note of the position he holds. I had lunch with him here and wished him for his journey," said Khurshid.

"Everyone is free to visit Ajmer Sharif. His visit was in that context. The government had made proper arrangements for his visit," he added.

The External Affairs Minister also hit back at the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) for criticizing him for having a luncheon meeting with the Pakistani Prime Minister.

"They just have to look at their own history and they will know why," he said.

Khurshid, who hosted lunch for the visiting dignitary at the Rambhagh Palace hotel in Jaipur, drew sharp criticism from the leaders of various opposition parties and defence experts over his move.

Khurshid earlier on Friday ruled out any diplomatic talks with the visiting Pakistani Prime Minister, and said that he would be receiving the visiting dignitary on his private visit to Ajmer Sharif as a courtesy.

"It is a private visit. A spiritual visit to a place, which gives out the message of peace; Dargah Sharif gives out a message of peace. And I think anyone comes with a message of peace in a place of peace, we should receive them with peace," said Khurshid.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made in and around the shrine keeping in view the Pakistani Prime Minister's visit. The dargah dewan of Ajmer shrine, Syed Zainul Abedin Ali Khan, has said that he would not assist the Pakistani Prime Minister in prayers as a mark of protest over the mutilation of the bodies of the two Indian soldiers.

Ashraf will return to Jaipur in the evening and leave for Islamabad.

On the eve of the Ashraf's visit, Prime Minister Dr. Manmohan Singh made it clear that normalisation of relations with Pakistan cannot take place unless the terror infrastructure there is dismantled.

Dr. Singh told the Parliament yesterday that India has made sincere efforts to normalise its relations with Pakistan.

The dialogue process between the two Asian neighbours was impacted by ceasefire violations on the LoC in Jammu and Kashmir in January this year with India lodging a strong protest over the brutal killing of two of its soldiers in the Poonch sector. (ANI)

More from Sify: