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Ajmer Sharif spiritual head to boycott Pak PM's visit

Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf's trip to Ajmer on Saturday has hit a sour note with the Ajmer Sharif spiritual head saying he will boycott the visit in protest against the recent brutal killing and beheading of Indian soldiers by the Pakistani Army.

"I will not welcome the Pakistani Prime Minister during his visit here in protest against the beheading and killing of Indian soldiers by Pakistani Army on LoC. The incident hurt Indians but their(Pakistan) government is not understanding our sentiments so I took the decision," Ajmer Sharif Dargah Diwan, Zainul Abedin Ali Khan told reporters here on Friday.

Khan's boycott will be largely symbolic because he is seen as a ceremonial head.

 Raja Pervez Ashraf
Pakistan PM Raja Pervez Ashraf

The Khadims, who control the 12th century shrine of Sufi Saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, escort visiting dignitaries and assist pilgrims at the dargah.

Security in and around the shrine has been beefed up for Ashraf's visit.

"All the preparations are in place and policemen in adequate numbers have been deployed in the area," IGP Ajmer Anil Paliwal said.

"Ashraf is coming on my invitation and I will perform Ziyarat for him tomorrow. He is my guest and he will pray for peace in both the countries," Saiyad Bilal Chishti, who claims to be his family Khadim, told PTI today.

He said that the Pakistan PM is coming with his wife, sons and some relatives to thank Khawaja for his successful tenure as the PM.

"I extended him invitation to come to dargah when I visited him last year," he said.
Traditionally, the spiritual head welcomes the visiting dignitary at the Nizam Gate and then the Khadims take them around.

As per the schedule, the delegation in helicopters will land at Ghughara helipad at 3.30 PM 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 he will reach the main shrine after passing from Buland Darwaja and others.

He will be welcomed by beating of drums and a turban tying ceremony will take place as per tradition, an official said.

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

Shortly after his arrival in Jaipur, Ashraf will be hosted to a lunch by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid.

The visit comes around two months after ceasefire violations on the Line of Control that led to heightened tensions between the two neighbours. New Delhi had lodged a strong protest over the beheading of an Indian soldier and brutal killing of another. 

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