President Zardari to visit India on April 8

Pakistan President Asif Ali Zardari will visit India on April 8 for a private visit and to have lunch with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, Islamabad announced on Monday.

It will be the first visit by a Pakistani head of state to India since 2005 and comes as the nuclear-armed rivals make gradual progress towards normalising relations, dealt a major blow by the 2008 Mumbai attacks blamed on Pakistanis.

Zardari will visit the shrine of Sufi Muslim saint Hazrat Khwaja Gharib Nawaz in Ajmer Sharif on a “private visit for prayers,” presidential spokesman Farhatullah Babar said in a statement.

He added: “The president has also accepted the invitation of Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh for lunch in New Delhi en route to Ajmer Sharif”. He will return to Islamabad the same day.