|Page (1) of 1 - 04/01/12||email article||print page|
Pakistan's president to travel to India soon, 1st visit by Pakistani head of state since 2005
ISLAMABAD (AP) ' President Asif Ali Zardari will visit India's shrine of a famous Sufi Muslim saint soon, the first trip by a Pakistani head of state to the country's archenemy since 2005, a spokesman said Sunday.
It comes at a time of improving relations between the two countries.
"The visit has been on the cards for sometime, and initially it was a private visit," presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar told The Associated Press. He held out the possibility that it could turn into an official visit.
Zardari will travel to the Ajmer Sharif shrine in Rajasthan district, said Babar. The visit will take place "very soon," but exact dates are being worked out, he said. The site is not far from the India-Pakistan border.
Pakistan and India have fought three wars, two of them over the disputed territory of Kashmir, since they both gained independence from Britain in 1947.
Relations hit a low point in 2008, when militants killed 166 people in attacks on a hotel and other sites in the Indian city of Mumbai. India blamed the Pakistan-based militant group Lashkar-e-Taiba for carrying out the rampage and has criticized Pakistan for not doing enough to crack down on the group. Pakistan has denied that any state institutions played a role in the attack on Mumbai.
Relations have slowly improved over the last year. Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani met his Indian counterpart Manmohan Singh last November on the sidelines of a conference in the Maldives. Pakistan also said last year that it plans to grant India "Most Favored Nation" trading status.