M A I N   N E W S

Army Chief not to be present in Delhi
for Pervez visit
Rajiv Sharma
Tribune News Service

New Delhi, April 13
The Army chief, General J.J. Singh, will not be in the capital when Pakistan President Pervez Musharraf arrives here on a three-day visit on April 16.

General Singh will be in Karnataka when General Musharraf would be watching the Indo-Pak cricket match at Ferozeshah Kotla or holding discussions with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh or President APJ Abdul Kalam, or confabulating with all factions of the All-Party Hurriyat Conference.

Air chief S.P. Tyagi and Naval chief Arun Prakash may well be in town but the government has not asked for their presence during General Musharraf’s engagements with Indian leaders.

The official reason being given for the absence of the three Service Chiefs during General Musharraf’s talks with the Indian leaders is that it is simply not required because the Pakistani President is coming on an informal visit and not a State visit.

Precisely for the same reason, there will be no Minister-in-Waiting for General Musharraf. The then Minister of State Digvijay Singh had served as Gen Musharraf’s Minister-in-Waiting when the General had come for the failed July 2003 Agra summit.

General Musharraf’s itinerary for the India visit was finalised late this evening. Mr Munnawwar Saeed Bhatti, Pakistan’s Deputy High Commissioner here, told this correspondent that as per this itinerary, General Musharraf would first go to Ajmer on April 16 afternoon to offer prayers at the dargah of Khwaja Chishti.

He would reach here in the evening of April 15. External Affairs Minister K. Natwar Singh and UPA chairperson Sonia Gandhi would call on him. After this, General Musharraf would travel to Hyderabad House for talks with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh which would be followed by dinner hosted by Dr Manmohan Singh.

On April 17 morning, General Musharraf, accompanied by Dr Manmohan Singh, would visit Ferozeshah Kotla Ground before the commencement of the cricket match between India and Pakistan. General Musharraf and the PM would watch the match for over an hour after which they would leave the stadium.

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