Condolences over the death of former President A.P.J. Abdul Kalam have poured in from around the world.
Tributes came from all SAARC countries, while High Commissioner of Pakistan, Abdul Basit, and High Commissioner of Bangladesh, Syed Muazzem Ali, visited Dr. Kalam’s home in Delhi to pay homage.
Mr. Basit told The Hindu that Pakistan wished to “share the grief of the former President’s family and the people of India.”
Many in Pakistan marked India’s missile man’s death on social networking sites, and Pakistan’s President Mamnoon Hussain sent a message as well.
In a statement, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina called Dr. Kalam a “rare combination of a great statesman, an acclaimed scientist and a gifted writer.”
Messages were received from Nepal Prime Minister Sushil Koirala, Bhutan’s Prime Minister Tshering Tobgay, who called him “iconic,” and Maldivian Foreign Minister Dunya Maumoon.
“We remember him for his charm and simplicity,” Russian Ambassador to India Alexander Kadakin, who flew the Russian flag at half-mast at the embassy, told The Hindu. “He was the man who pioneered India-Russian missile and space cooperation, and as Scientific Advisor to the government at the time, the Brahmos (joint missile programme) was his gift to both our countries,” Ambassador Kadakin said.
The U.S. State department called Dr. Kalam an “inspirational leader,” as former officials recalled how his composure over the 2011 incident, when he was frisked by TSA officials in New York against all protocol, had ensured that India and the U.S. averted a bigger diplomatic incident. Although the breach had been taken up by then External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna with the U.S. Ambassador, and the U.S. government had issued an apology after security officials forced Dr. Kalam to de-plane for an extra security check, Dr. Kalam himself had been unperturbed. Speaking a few days later to reporters in India, Dr. Kalam said, “Forget it. It is not worth talking [about],” which effectively ended the issue that had been raging across the Indian media.
British High Commissioner James Bevan called him “a great scientific mind and an inspiring and visionary leader.”