At last, the wish of Asif Ali Zardari is granted as he is visiting India on pilgrimage. During his forthcoming visit, he would visit Ajmer to offer chader at the dargah of venerable sufi seer. It was in year 2008 also, he was about to visit India to take part in a summit organized by a capital based media group. His visit could not be possible then perhaps due to fact the relations between the two neighbors were rather cold then.
However, Zardari addressed the summit via a satellite link from his official residence in Islamabad. And during his 15 minutes address,he made his mark as a very eloquent speaker. Later, he also took couple of questions from those who were attending the summit. And this humble writer too able asked question from him. My question was: ‘ Will India-Pakistan ever live peacefully ?’ And after little pause, he said, “ There's a "little bit of India in every Pakistani and a little bit of Pakistan" in every Indian,” adding “they have to settle their issues so that the coming generations live peacefully.” It was a long applause once he completes his answer.
And in that summit, Zardari promised a “no-first nuclear-strike” against India, talked of change and reconciliation, of shared bloodlines and the possibility of doing away with passports.
“I can assure you that Pakistan will not be the first country ever to use (nuclear weapons),” said Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari. “I hope that things never come to a stage where we have to even think about using nuclear weapons (against India).” He made this announcement when a student from Delhi’s St. Stephen’s College asked him: "Will you use nuclear weapons against India?"
There can’t be two opinions that Prime Minister Dr Manmohan Singh has done right thing to ensure that he would meet the visiting Zardari during his brief visit. Prime Minister is keen to encourage what he hopes is the beginning of a change in the Pakistani mindset towards India -- at least in the political class if not in the army. That is the message behind his decision to transform the planned religious visit of Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari to the Ajmer dargah into a soft political one -- to add to the improving ambiance in bilateral relations.
Zardari is expected to arrive by air in Delhi on April 8, have an early lunch with the PM, visit Ajmer's famous Sufi shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti and fly back to Islamabad from there. There is unlikely to be any joint statement at the end of the lunch. It has not yet been decided whether there should be a joint interaction with the media. Experts also feel the visit will reflect the improving comfort level between the leaderships of the two countries as noticed during the brief interactions between Dr Singh and Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani in the margins of the recent nuclear security summit in Seoul.
The Government of India has noted with interest the benign rhetoric in recent references of the Pakistani leadership towards India and the initiative taken by the Gilani government for breaking the issue of bilateral trade relations with India from being a hostage to the Kashmir issue.
More significantly, there has been no evidence of any involvement of Pakistan's Inter-Services Intelligence in any of the jihadi terrorist strikes that have taken place in different cities of India since the 26/11 in Mumbai. It is too early to assess whether there would be any change in the ISI's proxy war against India under its new chief Lt Gen Zahir-ul-Islam.
While Zardari would be visiting India on brief visit, he would also like to visit Mumbai and Junagarh in Gujarat as his slain wife and former Pakistan’s Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto father and also head of the state of Pakistan,Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, had his schooling from Mumbai’s Cathedral School. Zulfikar’s father,Sir Shahnawaz Bhuuto was the Prime Minister of Junagarh state before partition of the country.