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Updated: April 9, 2012 00:54 IST

Zardari announces $1 million to Ajmer dargah

Mohammed Iqbal
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Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari waves to onlookers during a visit to the dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer on Sunday. Photo: Rohit Jain Paras
Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari waves to onlookers during a visit to the dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti in Ajmer on Sunday. Photo: Rohit Jain Paras

After signalling a positive outcome of his talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi, Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari paid obeisance at the historic dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti during his private visit here on Sunday and offered a chadar and floral tributes at the Sufi saint's tomb. His son and Pakistan People's Party chairman Bilawal Bhutto was among those who accompanied him.

Mr. Zardari announced a donation of $1 million to the shrine after performing the ‘ziarat' rituals. This was stated to be the biggest-ever financial contribution made by a head of State, even as the declaration led to speculations about its use for development of the dargah and distribution among Khadims, who claim to be custodians of the 13th Century mausoleum.

Grand welcome

The President and members of his delegation were welcomed at the dargah's Nizam Gate with the beating of trumpets. He carried the red velvet chadar and flowers on his head inside the tomb and spent about 10 minutes there while offering ‘fateha' (supplication). Mr. Bilawal offered a green chadar at the last resting place of Khwaja Gharib Nawaz.

Mr. Zardari and the accompanying group spent about 40 minutes on the dargah premises, while the entire locality outside was shut down for four hours and no devotee was allowed inside. Khadims Iqbal Kaptan and Talib Kaptan helped the VIPs in performing ‘ziarat' and carried out their ‘dastaarbandi' (tying of turban) and presented sweetmeats to them.

While Wahid Angara Shah, secretary of Khadim's representative body Anjuman Khuddam Syedzadgan, read out a citation praising the initiatives for peace in the Indian subcontinent, Mr. Iqbal Kaptan presented silver rings studded with nine gems, Navratnas, to both Mr. Zardari and Mr. Bilawal.

Reference to Benazir

The citation also prayed for welfare of Pakistani people and made a reference to Mr. Zardari's wife and late Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, saying she had received blessings of the Sufi mystic during her visits to the dargah.

Mr. Zardari evinced a keen interest in the surroundings at the dargah and offered ‘shukrana' (thanksgiving) prayers outside the Khwaja's burial chamber.

In his remarks entered in the Anjuman's visitors book, the President said the spiritual happiness and contentment he had felt at the dargah was “beyond description.” “I pray to God for creation of favourable conditions for the entire humanity,” he wrote.

Union Parliamentary Affairs Minister Pawan Kumar Bansal, who accompanied the Presidential delegation as the Minister-in-waiting, also offered a chadar at the shrine on behalf of the Prime Minister. The internal strife in the dargah management came to light with the dargah Dewan, Zainul Abedin, abstaining from the VIP ‘ziarat'. He alleged that the administration had flouted the custom of including him among the representatives interacting with the President.

Zardari's entourage

Mr. Zardari's entourage included Pakistan Interior Minister Rehman Malik, Foreign Secretary Jalil Abbas Jilani, Additional Foreign Secretary Asif Durrani, High Commissioner to India Shahid Malik and Senator Farooq H. Naik. Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan Sharat Sabharwal also accompanied the delegation.

Earlier, Mr. Zardari arrived with the delegation members by three special Indian Air Force helicopters from Jaipur at Ghooghra helipad and travelled 12 km by road to reach the dargah. The shrine was turned into a fortress in view of the VIP visit and elaborate security arrangements were made in the area.

3000 policemen deployed

Over 3,000 policemen were deployed around the dargah and armed security persons stood guard at the rooftop of nearby buildings. Residents of the houses facing the shrine were asked to keep their windows shut when the President was inside and shops in the Dargah Bazaar were closed for four hours.

This was Mr. Zardari's first visit to the dargah, revered by people of all faiths in the Indian subcontinent, after becoming the President. He had earlier visited the shrine in 2005 with his wife Benazir Bhutto, who was assassinated in Rawalpindi on December 27, 2007.

Earlier, Rajasthan Chief Minister Ashok Gehlot received Mr. Zardari at Sanganer airport in Jaipur on Sunday afternoon on his arrival after his New Delhi visit. The President stayed at the airport's special guest lounge for half-an-hour and took breakfast with Mr. Gehlot before leaving for the pilgrim town of Ajmer.

State Chief Secretary C. K. Mathew, Director-General of Police Harish Chandra Meena and Principal General Administration Secretary R. P. Jain were also at the airport to welcome the Pakistan President.

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Indeed it was a right move by the PPP. Sending the President to Ajmer dargah will open the eyes of peace loving over 90% majority in both countries.I hope and pray that Zardari's visit to Ajmer dargah is taken as peace and friendship and a desire for a europeon style union.

from:  Sultan Pervez
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 21:35 IST

Mr.Zardari would have paid the fee to India indirectly for organizing his trip with high security.

from:  Maswood Ahmed
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 17:39 IST

Does the shrine have to worry whose money it is? It is a donation and I
guess shrines are not required to check the donation's background. If it
is Pakistani tax payers' money, then it is up to them to question it, if
they don't want to make the donation.

from:  sana
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 16:10 IST

Is there a proper Trust to govern and administer the donations and running of the holy place ? Can some informed reader throw light as to how the Ajmer dargah is administered ?

from:  vc sekar
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 11:42 IST

Instead of donating it to the shrine he should have used it for the welfare of people in his own state where they are suffering and longing for their basic necessities.

from:  Anu
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 11:35 IST

After offering Prayers in India will he stop sending terrorist into Indian soil? He needs to prove his sincerity.

from:  Prabhat
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 10:59 IST

//“I pray to God for creation of favourable conditions for the entire humanity,” he wrote.// This is the silver lining. I join with Mr.Zardari in his prayers.
"Every cloud has a Silver lining" we have to focus on Silver lining & pass through the Cloud immerse in the joy of Happiness.

from:  M.U.P.Sivakumar
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 10:27 IST

Let us Pray and Hope that this donation SHOULD NOT alter anything
to "Modernise"the tomb of one of the Holiest of Holy Saiints and
lose its Sanctity and peaceful Ambience.The Saint lived and passed away as a simple person.IF any outside influence change anything
in the Holy Place it would be a bad day.
Donations could help if these are used for the welfare of the people in the area.

from:  Arackal Narayanan
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 10:04 IST

This offering must be used strictly for the good of the Shrine and promoting inter-faiths understanding and cooperation.

from:  KB.Sundram.
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 09:40 IST

We need to stay close with our friends, but we need to stay even more
close with our enemies. Are there any shrines in Pakistan that Indian
leaders and citizens could visit without making that government

from:  Subra Balakrishnan
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 08:19 IST

After receiving all these grand treatments, if Pakistan administration
still doesn't understand what we want and tries to betray us, then God
also can't help them. It feels good that we Indians treat everyone
equally. I feel so proud.

Let's pray for the people of the Pakistan, China, Bangladesh, Sri
Lanka and all the sub continent nations. Let the peace and love

from:  Subroto Bera
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 07:32 IST

Hopefully , Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti will bless the Pakistanis to be friendly to India
and look for a peaceful future.

from:  Krishna
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 07:11 IST

The Pakistani president should spend the money on his own downtrodden people instead.

from:  Venkat
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 05:41 IST

Friends please open your eyes now. The Ajmer Chisti was visited by Mush and now Zardari. Imagine a donation of 5 crores just for chadar accepting pir. All over the world remittnace to ISI is closed and this is the easiest way to pass on funds. After giving the amount Zardari said he got the peace of mind which he never had. Why not? For some time he need not worry about funding them as 5 crore will be sufficient for quite some time.

from:  Mani Iyer
Posted on: Apr 9, 2012 at 02:15 IST

This is such a bad example by the president of a country. Lets remind him that his country was dependent on foreign aid when floods devastated his country a few months back.

from:  kumar
Posted on: Apr 8, 2012 at 23:54 IST

Ask Mr. Zardari to give additional 5 million dollar donation for the
sustenance of Kasab.

from:  Ankit
Posted on: Apr 8, 2012 at 23:44 IST

This special visit of the President of Pakistan should enable both the governments to consider release of political prisoners and the poor fisher folks of both the countries languishing in detention for long days. Our P.M should consult with the elderly and responsible parliamentarians and obtain a presidential proclamation to the effect of releasing the innocent prisoners who do not have and legal cases worth perusing in India. Long live Indo-Pak friendship.

from:  Chandramouli.N
Posted on: Apr 8, 2012 at 23:06 IST

Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, the great Sufi Saint was an symbol of spiritualism who not only established the universal concepts of love, peace and harmony but become an embodiment of those lofty ideals as well. He practiced what he preached. His piety and reverence for God's creations found expression in service to the poor,needy and infirm earning him the title Khwaja Gharib Navaz.Being a mystic his subjective experience of god's love found its application in serving the humanity not to wage jihadi wars with other cultures and faiths. Being the head of a state that sponsors terrorism to hurt & kill others and having no qualms in being a fountain head of corruption, Zardari has to go a long way before he truly comprehends what 'spiritual happiness' is all about.Doesn't he know that creating 'favorable condition for humanity' entails putting an end to violence? This visitation to the shrine of a saint for whom nonviolence was a way of life should serve as an inspiration for refinement.

from:  Vyjayanthi
Posted on: Apr 8, 2012 at 21:23 IST

This should be humbly turned down. This was a personal, private visit of
Mr. Zardari and I assume that this money is his personal belonging. It
does not suit the stature of Khwajaji's Dargah, or for that matter any
place considered holy by people to be having a share in the 10% of Mr.
Zardari, a man who is using his power to undermine the law of his land.

from:  Mohammad
Posted on: Apr 8, 2012 at 20:53 IST

All donations coming from foreignars/NRIs shall be watched and taxed. No
exemption shall be granted to any trust underguise of charitable /
religious endowments.

from:  Ajaathasathru
Posted on: Apr 8, 2012 at 19:38 IST

Whose money would it be? If Zardar's own, then I won't say much. But if Pakistani tax payer's money, then shrine should not accept it.

from:  Imran
Posted on: Apr 8, 2012 at 19:32 IST
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