Pakistan's prime minister-to-be Imran Khan has condoled the death of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, India's 10th prime minister, and said the best way to honour the "towering leader" is by establishing peace between India and Pakistan.
"There can be political differences but both sides of the border want peace. It is only through establishing peace that we can really honour the legacy of Atal Bihari Vajpayee. In this moment of grief following the demise of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, I stand with the people of India," Imran Khan said in a statement.
Imran Khan, who is set to take oath on Saturday, said as prime minister, Atal Bihari Vajpayee was a known and respected political personality of the subcontinent and his attempts for the betterment of India-Pakistan relationship will always be remembered. He added that Vajpayee, as a Foreign Minister, took the responsibility of improving India-Pakistan ties.
"With the death of Vajpayee sahab, South Asian politics now left with a huge political vacuum," he said.
Meanwhile, the Pakistan Foreign Office described Imran Khan as a renowned statesman. "We have learnt with sadness the passing away of Atal Bihari Vajpayee, former Prime Minister of India, who was undergoing treatment in a hospital in New Delhi," it said.
"Vajpayee was a renowned statesman who contributed to bringing a change in India-Pakistan relations and remained a key supporter of Saarc (South Asian Association of Regional Cooperation) and regional cooperation for development," it stated.
"The government and people of Pakistan extend their heartfelt condolences to his family and to the government and people of India."
Mr Vajpayee and then Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif were signatories to the historic Lahore Declaration of February 1999 that reached a mutual understanding towards the development of atomic arsenals and to avoid accidental and unauthorised operational use of nuclear weapons.
The Declaration brought added responsibility to both nations'' leadership towards avoiding nuclear race, as well as both non-conventional and conventional conflicts.
Mr Vajpayee, 93, died at AIIMS in New Delhi on Thursday evening after a prolonged illness.
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