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President Asif Ali Zardari arrives in India in the first visit by a Pakistani head of state for 7 years


President Asif Ali Zardari has arrived in India for the first visit there by a Pakistani head of state for seven years.

Asif Ali Zardari was met at Delhi’s Palam air force base by India’s parliamentary affairs minister Pawan Kumar Bansal.

Pakistani president is having lunch with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, before travelling to an important Muslim shrine in Rajasthan.

It is hoped the meeting could boost economic ties between the two nations.

Asif Ali Zardari is officially coming for private religious reasons, to visit the shrine of Sufi saint Moinudin Chishti in Ajmer, 350 kilometres (220 miles) southwest of Delhi.

However, his Interior Minister Rehman Malik and son and political heir Bilawal Bhutto Zardari are reportedly among an entourage of at least 25 people who have travelled with him.

President Asif Ali Zardari has arrived in India for the first visit there by a Pakistani head of state for seven years

President Asif Ali Zardari has arrived in India for the first visit there by a Pakistani head of state for seven years

Asif Ali Zardari was driven from the air base to the Indian prime minister’s residence amid tight security.

The two men were to meet privately before sitting down for lunch.

The focus of their talks is likely to be on issues that they can reach agreement on, such as trade.

One Indian government source told Reuters news agency the “prime minister will talk only about issues related to trade, education and culture this time”.

Relations between Pakistan and India have been gradually improving since peace talks were derailed after the Mumbai attacks in 2008.

Asif Ali Zardari recently backed the lifting of trade restrictions on India, and Pakistan is also talking of dropping a restrictive list of what products it will buy from India.

But tensions remain over more sensitive issues, such as the disputed region of Kashmir, and Pakistani militant activity against India.

Only this week, India again called for Pakistan to hand over Hafiz Saeed, the man it alleges planned the Mumbai attacks, after Washington announced a $10 million bounty for his arrest.

Pakistan has again refused, asking to see proof for the allegations.

The last time a Pakistani leader met Manmohan Singh was in 2005 when then Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf happened to be at the same cricket match as the Indian prime minister in Delhi.

The shrine of Sufi saint Moinudin Chishti is one of the most popular pilgrimage sites in the region, receiving a constant flow of devotees.

 

Roy likes politics. Knowledge is power, Roy constantly says, so he spends nearly all day gathering information and writing articles about the latest events around the globe. He likes history and studying about war techniques, this is why he finds writing his articles a piece of cake. Another hobby of his is horse – riding.