JAIPUR - The spiritual head of a revered Muslim shrine in India where Prime Minister Raja Pervaiz Ashraf is set to visit at the weekend said on Friday that he objected to the PM’s pilgrimage.
Raja and his family are due to begin a day-long private trip on Saturday (today) to the shrine of Sufi saint Hazrat Khawaja Gharib Nawaz in Ajmer Sharif, some 400 kilometres west of New Delhi.
The visit is Raja Pervaiz Ashraf’s first trip to India as Prime Minister and comes at a time of strained relations between New Delhi and Islamabad after tit-for-tat killings of soldiers at the tense border between the neighbours.
"I have decided to boycott the visit (to protest) the brutal killing of our Indian solders by the Pakistani Army," shrine spiritual head Zainul Abedin Ali Khan said.
"The incident has hurt Indians," he added in a statement.
He said he would also protest over the trip because of alleged ill-treatment of Hindus in Pakistan.
"There are incidents of atrocities on minorities in Pakistan and we have seen people from the Hindu community migrating to India on account of religious, financial and social persecution in Pakistan," he said.
"I am against that, and to express my feelings, I decided to boycott the visit," he said.
Ajmer Bar Association President Rajesh Tandon described the visit as "intolerable" and warned that lawyers would symbolically cleanse the road on which the Pakistani leader travelled to mark their protest.
"This is intolerable for an Indian because of the beheading of our soldier at the LoC," Tandon said.
He will be the most senior Pakistani to visit India since last April when President Asif Ali Zardari embarked on a similar pilgrimage and then had lunch with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.
While media reports said Indian Foreign Minister Salman Khurshid will host lunch for Raja Pervaiz Ashraf, Yashwant Sinha, a Hindu nationalist leader from India's main opposition BJP party on Friday urged New Delhi not to hold official talks with him.