JAIPUR: Death of former Indian Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee (ABV) has resonated across the border in Pakistan. Almost every newspaper—English and Urdu had carried front-page reports on the demise of the founding member of BJP. The reports highlighted Vajpayee’s efforts in restoring peace with Pakistan, acknowledging the existence of Pakistan and his government laying the foundation of a strong relation for his successors to nurture.
Pakistan’s leading English newspaper Dawn carried a single column report on the former Indian prime minister with a headline ‘Vajpayee, partisan of peace with Pakistan, dies.’ The article went on to say that his 1999 visit to Lahore had become so popular in Pakistan that his host and the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif said that he (ABV) could win an election there. It also said, “It was Vajpayee’s policy with Pakistan whose thread was picked up by his successor, Dr Manmohan Singh”.
The Nation, another Pakistan-based English daily, began its piece by saying ‘While most of the Indian leaders are opposed to Pakistan and publicly say they want to break it up, Atal Behari Vajpayee was the one who had tried to improve relations with the Islamic Republic.’ Reported by Ashraf Mumtaz who covered Vajpayee’s trip to Pakistan in 1999 claimed that “Vajpayee had admitted that many people had advised him not to visit the Minar-i-Pakistan as such a step would amount to giving the stamp of approval to the creation of Pakistan. But he said he rejected the advice.” Another English Daily, Express Tribune talked that India’s three-time Prime Minister Vajpayee was one of the leaders to express anguish over the deaths of hundreds of Muslims in 2002.
Similar treatment was given by the Urdu newspapers. Nawa-i-waqt, the largest Urdu newspaper headquartered in Lahore quoted Pakistan’s would-be PM Imran Khan and Pakistan People’s Party president Bilawal Bhutto in its report on the death of Vajpayee. The paper acknowledged the positive contribution made by Vajpayee in restoring Pak-India relations. “Vajpayee has always supported the promotion of SAARC and regional cooperation,” read the report, which was carried on its front page.