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Pak PM arrives in Jaipur; Khurshid hosts lunch

Pak PM arrives in Jaipur; Khurshid hosts lunch

Jaipur: Pakistani Prime Minister Raja Pervez Ashraf Saturday arrived here for a day-long private visit to the Sufi shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer in Rajasthan.

Senior Rajasthan government officials received Ashraf at the Jaipur airport. He arrived in a Pakistan Air Force aircraft at around 11.55 a.m. with his family members and a delegation.

His cavalcade drove down to Hotel Rambagh Palace amid tight security. He will be hosted for lunch by External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid in Jaipur before leaving for Ajmer by a helicopter around 3 p.m.

Three helicopters will fly the Pakistani prime minister's entourage to Ajmer.

A senior police official told IANS that Ashraf will offer prayers at the world famous shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishty in Ajmer, over 140 km from Jaipur.

"After staying for about 35-40 minutes at the shrine, he would return to Jaipur before flying back," said the official.

Elaborate security arrangements have been made in Ajmer in consultation with the Pakistani security team. At least 2,000 policemen have been deputed in and around the shrine area.

Ten duty magistrates have been deputed to oversee the security.

The official added that the shrine will be vacated minutes before Ashraf's arrival.

There will be snipers on rooftops in the shrine area and also at the windows of houses lining the main road leading to the shrine. Police will be deputed every 50 fifty metres of the route.

The administration has ordered closure of the shops situated in the area.

"The shops will remain closed until he leaves the shrine," the police officer said.

Some groups have planned protests during the visit.

The Ajmer Bar Association has demanded that the status of "state guest" given to the Pakistan prime minister be withdrawn.

The association plans to show black flags to Ashraf.

The spiritual head of the Ajmer shrine Dewan Sayed Zainul Abedin Ali Khan has also created a stir by saying that he will boycott Ashraf's visit to protest the beheading of an Indian soldier at the border.

In a statement Friday, he said that he would not receive the Pakistani prime minister at the shrine.

"As the 'sajjada nasheen' (head) of this place, I have welcomed prime ministers and presidents of different countries and blessed them," he said.

"But I have decided to boycott the visit of the Pakistan PM because of the inhumane acts of beheading an Indian soldier" and killing another, he had said.

Pakistani soldiers had Jan 8 intruded into India in Jammu and Kashmir's Poonch district, killed two Indian soldiers and beheaded one of them. This led to escalation of tension between the two countries, but the situation eased after a flag meeting between the two sides Jan 14.

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