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Cross LoC attack: Army Chief avoids commenting on Pak PM's visit

Chief of Army Staff, General Bikram Singh, today refused to comment on the personal visit of Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to the country, saying it is a political decision.

india Updated: Mar 09, 2013 14:42 IST

Chief of Army Staff, General Bikram Singh, on Saturday refused to comment on the personal visit of Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf to the country, saying it is a political decision.

"We had expressed our concern at that point of time. It is a political decision. So, let the government take a decision on it and I would not like to make any comment on it," said General Singh.

"Let's not make an issue out of it. The point is let the government really take a decision on this. It won't be correct on the part of the Chief of Army Staff to comment on this," he added, when asked that 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.

The dargah dewan of Ajmer shrine earlier on Friday said that he was opposed to the visit by the Pakistani Prime Minister in the wake of the January 2013 beheading of two Indian soldiers along the Line of Control (LoC) in Jammu and Kashmir.

"I will not welcome or be present during his visit to the Dargah. The inhuman manner in which Indian soldiers were treated by the Pakistan Army is despicable and condemned it in the strongest of words. It will be a dishonour to the families of the Indian soldiers who were beheaded by their (Pakistan) army," he told media in Ajmer.

The Pakistani Prime Minister has arrived in Jaipur on a private trip to pay homage to Sufi saint Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at his dargah in Ajmer. Ashraf is the first Pakistani leader to visit India after the brutal beheading of two Indian jawans along the LoC by the Pakistani troops in January this year.

External affairs minister Salman Khurshid, who has ruled out any diplomatic talks with the visiting Pakistani Prime Minister, will host a lunch in his honour in Jaipur.

Khurshid on Friday 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.

Ashraf will fly from Jaipur to Ajmer in a helicopter. He will return to Jaipur in the evening and leave for Islamabad. Elaborate security arrangements have been made in and around the shrine keeping in view the Pakistani Prime Minister's visit.

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

Dr. Singh said India has made sincere efforts to normalise its relations with Pakistan.

"We have achieved some progress in this regard, people-to-people contacts have gone up, trade relations have shown improvement. But there cannot be normalisation of relations between our two countries, unless and until the terror machine, which is still active in Pakistan, is not brought under control," he added, while replying to the Motion of Thanks on the President's Address in Rajya Sabha on Friday.

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.

Lance Naik Hemraj and Lance Naik Sudhakar Singh were killed by infiltrating Pakistani soldiers in Poonch sector of Jammu and Kashmir on January 8.

Their bodies were found mutilated, sparking a diplomatic face-off between India and Pakistan and tension along the Line of Control that separates the two countries.

Pakistan had denied the country's claim that its troops crossed the Line of Control to ambush a patrol party in the Mendhar sector in Poonch district.

First Published: Mar 09, 2013 14:39 IST