The politico-business delegation from across the border, that was to be led by Pakistani Punjab chief minister Shahbaz Sharif, has cancelled its visit to the Indian Punjab. Reports claimed Sharif's serious back ailment was the reason, though sources told HT that since Pakistan interior minister Rehman Malik is also starting his Indian visit on December 14, the government of Pakistan did not want any overlap.
Sharif's visit was to be a reciprocation of Punjab deputy chief minister Sukhbir Singh Badal's visit a couple of months ago. He was also to be the chief guest at the finals of the World Cup Kabaddi in Ludhiana on December 15, and planned to visit his ancestral village Jati Umra in Tarn Taran district.
Some reports had said that he would visit Delhi and meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
With Sharif, the whole 36-member delegation, including businessmen and politicians, that was to cross over into India through the Attari Border on Thursday, did not arrive. Various arrangements had been made at the integrated check-post (ICP) at the border; welcome banners were erected along the Attari Road.
Public relations minister Bikram Singh Majithia confirmed that the visit had been cancelled: "We are trying to find out the reasons but till now we have been informed that Sharif has some serious backache issues."