Three-time Indian PM Vajpayee dies at 93

ISLAMABAD: Three-time Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee has died, current leader Narendra Modi said Thursday of the ailing 93-year-old who had been hospitalised.
“Atal Ji’s passing away is a personal and irreplaceable loss for me,” Modi said in a tweet Thursday, using a Hindi-language honorific.
“It was Atal Ji’s exemplary leadership that set the foundations for a strong, prosperous and inclusive India in the 21st century.”
Vajpayee had battled poor health for years but his condition deteriorated sharply in recent days.
The former premier was being treated at the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) in Delhi, where he was admitted nine weeks ago with health complications.
“Unfortunately, his condition deteriorated over the last 36 hours and he was put on life support systems. Despite the best efforts, we have lost him today,” AIIMS said in a statement.
“We join the nation in deeply mourning this great loss.”
His waning health sparked a flurry of visits from top dignitaries Thursday, including Modi and senior cabinet ministers.
Vajpayee, a former journalist and poet-turned-politician, was credited with helping lay the foundations for the meteoric rise of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), the right-wing political powerhouse that rules India today.
Condolences poured in soon after the news of the sad demise broke. Celebrities and common people paid tribute to the legendary South Asian leader in their own way.
The Foreign Office spoke out by expressing its sadness over his passing.
The Foreign Office Spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal said that Vajpayee was a renowned statesman who contributed to bringing a change in India-Pakistan relations, as well as, remaining a key supporter of South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) and regional cooperation for development.
“The government and people of Pakistan extend their heartfelt condolences to his family and to the government and people of India,” the statement reads.
Meanwhile, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) chief Imran Khan has spoken out in the wake of three-time Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee’s sad demise by extending an overture for peace between the two countries and beyond.
According to the party’s statement on Thursday, the prime minister-in-waiting said there could be political differences between the two countries, however, the desire to establish peace exists on both sides of the border.
He said Vajpayee’s death has created a vacuum in the region’s political arena. “In order to pay homage to his tireless services, we can resort to the establishment and promotion of peace across the region.”
Khan said the subcontinent had lost a phenomenal and a visionary political figure, whose contribution will never be forgotten in Pak-India relations.
“As foreign minister Vajpayee strived to open up ways towards normalisation of relations among neighbouring states and had successfully taken this agenda to new heights after assuming office of the prime minister,” the statement read.
“I extend sympathies to the people of India in this hour of grief,” Khan was quoted as saying.

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