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Pakistani delegation to attend last rituals of late Atal Bihari Vajpayee

A delegation from Pakistan comprising four members will be going to India to attend the last rites of former Indian prime minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee, who passed away on Thursday.

According to sources, caretaker law and information minister Ali Zafar will represent Pakistani delegation at Vajpayee’s funeral. Foreign Office spokesperson Dr Mohammad Faisal will be accompanying Ali Zafar along with other senior official from the law ministry.

The delegation will return to Pakistan tonight after attending Vajpayee’s last prayers.

Former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee died on Thursday at a hospital in New Delhi where he had been undergoing treatment for a kidney ailment since June.

Vajpayee was admitted to the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS) on June 11 with kidney infection, chest congestion, urinary tract infection and low urine output.

“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 on 16.08.2018,” AIIMS said in a statement on Thursday.

“Unfortunately, his condition deteriorated over the last 36 hours and he was put on life support systems. Despite the best of efforts, we have lost him today,” the statement read.

Renowned for his powerful oratory and poetry, Vajpayee, was one of the founder members of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), served as prime minister for 13 days in 1996, 13 months (1998-99) at the head of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA) government and then for a full five year term (1999-2004).

He was the first non-Congress leader to serve a full term in power and had announced his retirement from electoral politics in 2005 and withdrew further from public life in 2009 after suffering a stroke that weakened his cognitive abilities and subsequently developed dementia.

Born in Gwalior on December 25, 1924, Vajpayee joined the Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh in 1939, and in 1951, was moved to its political wing, the Bharatiya Jana Sangh. He steadily rose in its hierarchy and became national president in 1968.

Imprisoned along with other opposition leaders during the Emergency (1975-77), he merged the Jana Sangh into the newly-formed Janata Party to fashion a common front against the Congress in the 1977 elections. He subsequently served as Minister of External Affairs in the Morarji Desai government.

After the Janata Party’s collapse, Vajpayee, along with long-time associate LK Advani and others, set up the BJP in 1980. A parliamentarian for over four decades, he was conferred the Bharat Ratna in 2015.

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