Former Indian prime minister Vajpayee passes away at 93

Former Indian prime minister Vajpayee passes away at 93

Former Indian prime minister Vajpayee passes away at 93

Atal Bihari Vajpayee death condolences LIVE updates: BJP leader and former Prime Minister passed away at 93 on Thursday, August 16.

He had been hospitalised for more than two months with a kidney infection and chest congestion. Vajpayee cited Sonia Gandhi's as evidence of the Indian democracy's vibrancy, reported the Hindu.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi visited him Wednesday night and Vice-President Venkiah Naidu on Thursday. He ordered nuclear tests in 1998 that raised fears of atomic war with Pakistan, but also, a few years later, reached across the border and made the first moves toward peace with Islamabad.

His peace efforts began with a groundbreaking bus ride to Lahore, Pakistan, in February 1999, where he met with then-Pakistani prime minister Nawaz Sharif.

Serving as prime minister briefly in 1996 then again from 1998 to 2004, Mr Vajpayee was admired even by prominent political foes.

Vajpayee's visit to the U.S. in September 2000 was a landmark one in many ways.

It was in India's relations with Pakistan where Vajpayee's influence may last the longest. He gave the go-ahead for underground nuclear tests in 1998 believing nuclear weapons would be deterrent against China and Pakistan.

Vajpayee's public response to the riots reflected his many contradictions. In a statement issued on Thursday, the American Embassy said that the U.S. grieved with India on the loss of the former Prime Minister.

"It was Atal Ji´s exemplary leadership that set the foundations for a strong, prosperous and inclusive India in the 21st century. His futuristic policies across various sectors touched the lives of each and every citizen of India", Modi tweeted Thursday.

Caretaker Information Minister Syed Ali Zafar attended the funeral of former Indian premier Atal Bihari Vajpayee on Friday.

The statement said Vajpayee was a renowned statesman who contributed to bringing a change in India-Pakistan relations and remained a key supporter of Saarc and regional cooperation for development. The government conferred the Bharat Ratna, India's highest civilian honour, on him in 2015. His funeral is to be held Friday afternoon. While India is observing seven days of state mourning as a mark of respect to Vajpayee, countries such as the United States, Russia and Japan too have condoled the sad demise of Atal Bihari Vajpayee.

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