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Jaswant?s Thar safari to Pak

BJP leader's long-cherished dream of travelling to Pak for a pilgrimage is coming true, writes Shekhar Iyer.

india Updated: Jan 18, 2006 01:51 IST

BJP leader Jaswant Singh's long-cherished dream of travelling to Pakistan for a pilgrimage is coming true. And he plans to make a road trip of it.

Thanks to the green signal from both Pakistan President Pervez Musharaff and Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Singh will lead a motorcade of pilgrims — filling three buses and two cars — through the Thar desert and into Sind to reach Hinglaj Mata in Balochistan. Accompanying him will be his two sons and a jatha of Muslims and Hindus, folk singers, dancers and musicians. He will also stop over at Karachi and visit the Shabaaz Kalander dargah on his way back. Singh's trip is "purely religious and no politics". And though he is almost ready with his political biography of Jinnah, he won't be visiting the Jinnah Mausoleum in Karachi.

It will be after a gap of almost six decades that Indian pilgrims will be visiting the place revered by Hindus and Muslims alike. Singh says he has been trying for years to obtain permission to take the land route to the shrine. As per Rajput tradition, the pilgrimage will represent people from all communities. "You can see Muslims from Barmer and Jaisalmer queuing up to make the trip. In Pakistan, the deity is known as Bibi Nani Ma," Singh says.

First Published: Jan 18, 2006 01:51 IST