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Delicacies await Zardari at Dr Singh's lunch, BUT...

Last updated on: April 7, 2012 19:10 IST

Delicacies await Zardari at Dr Singh's lunch, BUT...

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Mouth-watering Kashmiri delicacy Goshtaba are among a spread of delicacies from various parts of India awaiting Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari at the lunch with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in New Delhi on Sunday.

The cuisine has been tastefully selected with an aim of bringing together specalities of all regions.

From Kashmir, the menu will have Goshtaba, meatballs in curd-based curry which is the mainstay of Wazwan. Dosa and Avial (mixed vegetables) is the selection from south India along with prawns. As starters, there will be Barra Kabab from the central heartland of the country. The desserts will include Phirni from the north and Sandesh, a Bengali delicacy.

However, what's not going to be on the cards is the talk on 26/11 mastermind and Lashkar-e-Tayiba founder Hafeez Mohammad Saeed.

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Image: Pakistan President Zardari
Photographs: White House Photo

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Delicacies await Zardari at Dr Singh's lunch, BUT...

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On the eve of his India visit, President Zardari said he did not expect the issue of Hafiz Saeed to be the focus of his meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, amid growing pressure on Pakistan to prosecute the LeT founder for his role in the Mumbai attacks.

"My stance on Saeed is not different from that of my government. My visit to India is of a religious nature and I do not think Manmohan Singh will make me sit (and discuss only) this issue," Zardari told media persons in a lighter vein at the Governor's House in Lahore on Saturday.

56-year-old Zardari, who flies to India on Sunday for a luncheon meeting with Singh followed by a visit to Ajmer to pay obeisance at the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti, has been camping in Lahore for the past few days.

He was responding to questions on his meeting with Singh against the backdrop of a $10 million bounty offered by the US for information leading to Saeed's prosecution.


Photographs: White House Photo

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Delicacies await Zardari at Dr Singh's lunch, BUT...

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Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani has already said in Parliament that the case of Saeed is an "internal issue" of Pakistan. Gilani further said that any evidence against Saeed should be provided to Pakistan so that it can be examined by the country's independent judiciary.

In Islamabad, Foreign Office spokesman Abdul Basit said Zardari will invite Singh to visit Pakistan by the end of this year during their meeting in New Delhi.

"President Zardari will invite Prime Minister Singh to visit Pakistan by the end of this year," Basit said.

While the Pakistani leadership has extended the invitation to the Indian Prime Minister earlier also, this would be the first time that a time-frame has been proposed for the summit meeting.

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Image: Pakistan Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani
Photographs: Reuters

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Delicacies await Zardari at Dr Singh's lunch, BUT...

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On his part, Singh has accepted the invitation earlier but made it clear that he would undertake the visit only if there is likelihood of a substantive outcome.

On the Saeed issue, New Delhi has said that this can figure along with a host of other topics during the Singh-Zardari talks.

Pakistan on Friday rejected External Affairs Minister S M Krishna's assertion that India had provided adequate evidence linking Saeed to the 2008 Mumbai attacks, carried out by the Pakistan-based LeT, which left 166 people dead.

The foreign office said India had not given "any solid and significant evidence" against Saeed. "There is nothing concrete and maintainable. From its own Mumbai trial experience, India knows well that hearsay cannot substitute for hard evidence," Basit said.

Krishna had said that "the dossier that the Home Minister has provided to the Pakistan government contains every detail of Saeed's involvement in the planning and execution of terrorist attack on Mumbai.....

"So no amount of denial would exonerate them unless there is a judicial enquiry into the whole episode whereby responsibilities can be fixed but unfortunately Pakistan government has not thought it proper to investigate this."

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Image: Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh
Photographs: Reuters

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Zardari will be the first Pakistani head of state to visit India since 2005, when the then military ruler, Pervez Musharraf, had travelled to New Delhi for talks with the Indian leadership.

Pakistan's top leadership has described Zardari's trip as a "private visit" aimed at fulfilling a long-standing desire to offer prayers at the famous 13th century Sufi shrine at Ajmer in Rajasthan.

"The basic objective of the President's visit is to pay obeisance at the shrine of Khwaja Moinuddin Chishti at Ajmer Sharif," Basit said.

The meeting between Zardari and Singh has no agenda though the two leaders are expected to discuss all bilateral issues and the regional situation, Basit told the media.

He acknowledged that the visit was "important" as the two countries were currently engaged in the second round of the dialogue process that began last year after a gap of over two years in the wake of the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

"We expect this round (of the dialogue) to be completed in June-July. After that, the Indian Foreign Minister is to visit Pakistan to review the process," Basit said.

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Photographs: Reuters

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