Atal Bihari Vajpayee will be remembered for his bold peace initiatives and also for the nuclear tests in 1998 — many foreign newspapers on Friday wrote about the late former Indian Prime Minister who passed away on Thursday.
Pakistan’s influential daily Dawn on its front page wrote that Vajpayee “was idolised in Pakistan as a sincere peacemaker and wooed by rivals at home as the right man in the wrong party”.
Recalling Vajpayee’s 1999 visit — one of his three visits to Pakistan, the daily remembered how the then Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif had famously remarked that Vajpayee “could win an election” from there.
The daily said he would be “remembered for his bold peace initiatives with Pakistan and defiant nuclear tests”.
The Washingon Post in an obituary referred to him as “the Indian Prime Minister who oversaw nuclear tests that ushered in a new arms race in South Asia”.
“Vajpayee shocked the world in May 1998 with five underground nuclear tests, prompting international sanctions, rattling neighbours and setting off an arms race with archrival Pakistan.”
The nuclear tests “established India as an overt nuclear-weapon state”, it said.
“Vajpayee worked discreet diplomacy behind closed doors and set in motion a friendly dialogue with US President Bill Clinton, who went to India in 2000, the first visit by a US president to the country in more than two decades.”
The New York Times recalled how Vajpayee “stunned the world by ending a decades-old moratorium on nuclear weapons tests” and still “managed to ease tensions with Pakistan and build closer ties to the US”.
“His passing away marks the end of an era. He lived for the nation and served it assiduously for decades.”
The Los Angeles Times recalled the February 1999 bus ride to Lahore that “cemented Vajpayee’s stature as a peacemaker even though he had set off the nuclear arms race”.
The Independent also recalled how the “groundbreaking bus ride to Lahore” kicked off “a peace process that, while often rocky, remains the basis of ongoing negotiations” between the two countries.
The Gulf News published a three-column photo on its front page with a bold caption: “A giant of Indian politics bids adieu”.