At the end of his visit to the shrine marked by tight security this evening, Zardari said he felt “a great spiritual happiness” after coming to this holy place which was “beyond description.”
A one million usd donation(Rs five crore) for the welfare of the shrine was announced on behalf of Zardari by a member of his delegation, according to the Anjuman Committee's vice president Syed Khalimuddin Chishti.
Clad in a blue shalwar kameez, 56-year-old Zardari, accompanied by his son Bilawal, Interior Minister Rehman Malik and members of his 44-member delegation, stayed inside the Sufi saint's mausoleum for 20 minutes where he offered a 42-square metre long red ‘chadar' and floral tributes. Bilawal offered a green chadar. Chadar is a ceremonial cloth inscribed with religious verses.
A chadar was also offered by Union Minister Pawan Bansal on behalf of Prime Minister Manmohan Singh. Bansal, the minister-in-waiting for Zardari's visit, prayed for peace and harmony.
“Is mukaddas mukam par akar mujhe jo ruhani khushi mehsus hui hai wo na kabi e bayan hai. Alla tala se dua hai ki wo tamam insaniyat ke liye asaniya paida kare. Amin”( I feel a great spritual happiness after coming to this holy place. It is beyond description. I pray to god to create favourable condition for the humanity. Amin,” Zardari wrote in the visitors book.
Zardari performed ‘fateha' (supplication) and went around the premises comprising mosques, graves of the Khwaja's disciples, a pool and two big cauldrons used for cooking food during the annual Urs. Pervez Musharraf and Zia-ul-Haq were the previous Pakistani Presidents to offer obeisance at the revered shrine.
The President landed at Ghugra helipad in Ajmer in a helicopter from Jaipur where a special aircraft carrying him and his delegation brought him from Delhi after a meeting with Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, who also hosted a lunch for him. The convoy then moved to the Dargah Sharif, 12.3 kms by road from the helipad.
Anjuman committee officials said the donation announced by Zardari was the biggest amount in recent years but it was not immediately known whether it was made in a personal capacity or in his capacity as President.
Outside the Nizam gate, the main entrance of the dargah, Zardari was welcomed by Sayed Natik Chisti, Anjuman committee secretary Sayed Wahid Chisti and its President Husamuddin Niyazi.
Sayed Natik Chisti, who had performed the ‘Ziyarat' (prayer) when Musharraf had visited the shrine, performed the same for Zardari along with Syed Iqbal Kaptan Chisti who claimed to be the family khadim of late prime minister and Zardari's slain wife Benazir Bhutto.
Zardari was presented two chadars for shrines in Pakistan—Baba Farid-ud-din Ganjshakar at Pakpattan near Lahore and Databaksh shrine in Lahore by a body of khadims (clerics).
A member of the Dargah staff removed the shoes of Zardari who then wore a special rexine socks and entered the shrine from the Nizam gate.
As soon as he stepped into the Dargah, he was welcomed by beating of drums as per traditions and customs of the shrine.
President of the Dargah committee Sohel Ahmad Khan and CEO Mohammd Afzal received them inside the shrine after his entry from the nizam gate.
The delegation then proceeded towards the Aastana (shrine) after passing through Shahjahani gate, Buland darwaja, Sandali gate and Ahta-e-Noor (boundary of the main shrine).
Before getting into the shrine from Begami Dalan (main entrance of the shrine), he was introduced to shrine keys' holders (baridar).
Inside the shrine, he offered a 42 sq m special chadar and paid obeisance.
After spending 20 minutes inside the shrine, he left from Payti darwaja and then honoured by the Anjuman committee at a turban tying ceremony.
He was also honoured by the Dargah committee at Buland darwaja before his departure to the helipad.
Tight security arrangements were in place for the visit and 1,600 police personnel guarded the entire area from the helipad to the Dargah.
The Dargar premises was evacuated after noon for the visit and only pass holders were allowed to stay inside the dargah during the visit of Zardari.
Zardari was also gifted a sword by the dargah committee.
The religious head of the dargarh, Zeyad Zainual Abidi, who claims to be a descendant of Khawaja Moinuddin Chisty, boycotted the visit of Zardari in protest against district administration's denial to issue him an all-premises entry pass.
Abidi, who is diwan of the dargah, alleged it was the breach of years old custom because the religious head always accompanies heads of states inside the dargah and participates in religious ceremonies.
“I boycotted the visit because I was denied the all-premises pass. District administration said they were going to issue me a pass valid only at the main entrance of the dargarh, and I was not allowed to go inside with the guest. It is violation of years old customs,” he said.
However, District Magistrate Manju Rajpal said the decision not to issue him an all-premises entry pass was on the grounds of a police report.
“There was a dispute between khadim body and the diwan so the police were fearing some ugly scenes during the visit of the guest and to avoid this, the decision was taken,” Rajpal said.
Secretary of khadims' body, Anjuman committee, Saiyad Wahid said that all the religious activities are carried out by only khadims inside the main shrine and diwan has no interference in these rituals.