Pakistan condoles death of ex-Indian PM Vajpayee

Vajpayee's condition worsens, put on life-support system: AIIMS..

Vajpayee's condition worsens, put on life-support system: AIIMS..

Former Prime Minister of India Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a visionary leader and an ardent defender of democracy.

Vajpayee was admitted to hospital on June 11 with a kidney tract infection and chest congestion.

. In 2009, he had suffered a stroke, which weakened his cognitive abilities.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi led condolences in a series of tweets, calling Vajpayee's death a "personal and irreplaceable loss".

He was a key figure in the development of India's nuclear programme, ordering weapons tests in 1998, which stoked fears of an atomic war with neighouring Pakistan, which also tested a nuclear device in response.

He first became PM of India for only 16 days - May 16-31, 1996, and was re-elected PM in March 1998, where he remained in office until May 13, 2004. Today, our two countries and our bilateral relationship continue to benefit from Prime Minister Vajpayee's vision, which helped promote expanded cooperation.

Rahul Gandhi, the leader of the Congress party, said "India has lost a great son" who was "loved and respected by millions". He said the BJP patriarch lived for the nation and served it assiduously for decades, while noting that it was Vajpayee's exemplary leadership that set the foundations for a strong, prosperous and inclusive India in the 21st century.

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He said it was due to Vajpayee's perseverance and struggles that the BJP was built brick by brick.

Mr Vajpayee was one of the few leaders of the BJP to express anguish when hundreds of Muslims were killed rioting in 2002 in the western state of Gujarat, which Mr Modi governed.

"It is with profound grief that we inform about the sad demise of Former Prime Minister of India, Shri Atal Bihari Vajpayee, at 05.05pm", the AIIMS said in a statement.

That changed within a month of Vajpayee returning to the prime minister's post in 1998, when he approved a series of nuclear weapons tests that shocked the world and pushed Islamabad to launch its own tests.

Vajpayee never married but had a longtime companion who died in 2014 and whose daughter he adopted. "I am deeply saddened by the passing away of former prime minister and Bharat Ratna Atal Bihari Vajpayee". Following his death, many people chanted "Atal Bihari Amar Rahe" as Vajpayee's cortege made its way to the city to reach BJP headquarters, where innumerable leaders gathered to pay tribute to him.

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