Pakistan Prime Minister Raja Parvez Ashraf on Saturday offered prayers at the historic Dargah of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti during his private visit to Ajmer that was marked by protests.
The brief trip of 62-year-old Ashraf to the 13th century shrine hit a sour note following a boycott by the Dargah’s spiritual head in protest against the recent brutal killing and beheading of Indian soldiers by the Pakistani Army.
Opposing the Pakistan premier’s visit that was marked by tight security, local lawyers, some BJP activists and representatives of markets associations staged protests and shouted anti-Pakistan slogans.
After he offered ‘chadar’ and floral tributes, Ashraf prayed for peace in the world and prosperity in Pakistan.
“Me and my family members are fortunate to get the opportunity to visit the Dargah. I thank you Garib Nawaz. I wish for peace in the world and for peace and prosperity in Pakistan,” the Prime Minister wrote in Urdu in the visitors’ book.
Ashraf, on a short visit to India, along with his wife Nusrat and over 20 others including his relatives offered prayers at the Dargah and stayed inside the historic shrine for about 30 minutes.
He was assisted by the khadims in his prayers. Clad in cream coloured sherwani and a white and round cap, Ashraf carried a 42-metre multi-coloured velvet Chadar–a ceremonial cloth inscribed with religious verses–and flowers on his head for offering it to the Sufi saint’s mausoleum where a ‘ziyarat’ was performed by his family khadim Syed Bilal Chisti.
Turban tying (Dastarbandi) was another ceremony that took place in the shrine.
Tight security arrangements were in place in view of threats by advocates to protest the visit and over 1,000 police personnel guarded the entire stretch from the helipad to the Dargah. Police used mild force to disperse a group of advocates who had gathered at Favvara circle to show black flags to the Prime Minister in his way back to the Ghughra helipad.
The VVIP cavalcade, however, passed through a different route and reached the helipad, police said.