Today's Paper

Musharraf prays for peace at Ajmer dargah

Mohammed Iqbal

AJMER: The Pakistan President, Pervez Musharraf, paid obeisance at the historic dargah of the 13th century Sufi mystic, Khwaja Moinuddin Chisti, here on Saturday before beginning the official part of his visit to India. His entourage arrived here from Jaipur by Indian Air Force helicopters and he prayed at the shrine for peaceful and cordial relations between India and Pakistan.

Accompanied by his wife, Sehba Musharraf, and several Pakistani officials, Gen. Musharraf — clad in a white salwar — performed `ziarat' at the dargah where he was welcomed by beating of drums. The Pakistan Foreign Minister, Khurshid Mahmood Kasuri, the Information Minister, Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, and the High Commissioner to India, Aziz Ahmed Khan, formed part of the 20-member delegation.

Speaking to reporters after coming out of the Sufi saint's tomb, Gen. Musharraf said he had brought a message of peace to India and desired that the differences between the two countries be resolved amicably "in the coming times."

Gen. Musharraf spent about half an hour in the dargah, fulfilling his long-cherished wish to visit the shrine, and offered a 42-metre-long green velvet chadar, brought from his country. The Anjuman Khuddam Syedzadgan — representing the Khadims who work as the dargah's custodians — performed his `dastarbandi' by tying a pink turban on his head and offered him a bouquet of flowers.

The elaborate motorcad e of Gen. Musharraf and his delegation drove from Ghooghra helipad, 10 km from the city, amid strict security with barricades put up on the roads.

A tight security blanket was thrown around the dargah and about 2,000 security personnel were pressed into service all over the town, while the shrine was vacated and searched thoroughly before his arrival.

Gen. Musharraf's visit, coinciding with a special day of prayers, when the zaireen (pilgrims) come to the shrine in large numbers, posed a difficulty for the authorities here. But the pilgrims were evacuated much before Gen. Musharraf arrived at 4 p.m. and the whole area was cordoned off. The day marks `Chhatthi' — sixth day of the lunar calendar — commemorating the six days of solitary prayers by the Khwaja before his death.

While Gen. Musharraf presented a calligraphed prayer to the khadims at the dargah, the khadims felicitated him by presenting a sipasnama, containing the verses on the life and teachings of the Sufi mystic, popularly known as Khwaja Ghareeb Nawaz. The Anjuman also gave him two ceremonial chadars to be draped on the tombs of two prominent Sufi shrines in Pakistan.

Recommended for you