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South Asian leaders and countries mourn Iran's Raisi

By XU WEIWEI in Hong Kong | | Updated: 2024-05-21 15:35
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This file photo taken on Aug 29, 2023, shows Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi in Tehran, Iran. [Photo/Xinhua]

A day of state mourning was observed across Pakistan, India, and Sri Lanka on May 21 in honor of the late Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi. Leaders of other South Asian countries also expressed their grief and paid their respects after the death of the president in a helicopter crash that also killed Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian.

Pakistani President Asif Ali Zardari extended his heartfelt condolences to the bereaved families of the Iranian president, Iran's foreign minister and others who lost their lives in the accident, said the office in a statement.

"Today, Pakistan mourns the loss of a great friend. Just last month, we had the honor of hosting him in Pakistan. During our discussions, I found him very keen on strengthening our bilateral relations. Raisi always had a special place for Pakistan and its people," he said.

Paying tribute to Raisi's dedicated services, Zardari said the Iranian president will be dearly missed and fondly remembered in Iran, Pakistan and the Islamic world for his efforts to enhance relations with regional and Islamic countries, according to the president's office statement.

Pakistan's Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif went to the Iranian embassy to Islamabad and sent condolences to Iran on behalf of his country and its people.

Also, in a post on X, formerly Twitter, on May 20 — the same day Raisi and the others onboard were confirmed dead, Sharif wrote: "I along with the government and people of Pakistan extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to the Iranian nation on this terrible loss. May the martyred souls rest in heavenly peace. The great Iranian nation will overcome this tragedy with customary courage."

Pakistan is observing a day of mourning and fly the flag at half-mast "as a mark of respect for President Raisi and his companions and in solidarity with Brotherly Iran".

An Indian Union Home Ministry spokesperson said on May 20, India had decided that "as a mark of respect to the departed dignitaries" there would be one day of state mourning on May 21.

On buildings where it is flown regularly the national flag would be flown at half-mast throughout India and there would be no official entertainment that day, he added.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said his country "stands with Iran in this time of sorrow" in a post on X.

"His contribution to strengthening India-Iran bilateral relationship will always be remembered. My heartfelt condolences to his family and the people of Iran. India stands with Iran in this time of sorrow," Modi wrote on May 20.

India's External Affairs Minister S. Jaishankar also posted a message on the social media platform, saying: "Deeply shocked to hear of the passing away of Iran's President Dr Ebrahim Raisi and Foreign Minister H Amir-Abdollahian in the helicopter crash. Recall my many meetings with them, most recently in January 2024. Our condolences to their families. We stand with the people of Iran at time of this tragedy."

Sri Lankan President Ranil Wickremesinghe also posted to share his sorrow at the death of the late Iranian president.

"I express my deepest sympathies and sincere condolences to the bereaved families, the government, and the people of Iran," he wrote on X on May 20.

"Our thoughts and prayers are with the families of President Raisi and his entourage," he added.

The national flag of Maldives was to be flown at half-mast for three days starting from May 20 to show respect for Raisi.

"I pray to Almighty Allah to bless the souls of President Raisi, Foreign Minister Abdollahian, and others who lost their lives in this unfortunate incident and to grant them Jannatul Firdaus (Islam's highest level of heaven)," wrote Maldivian President Mohamed Muizzu on X on May 20.

Bangladeshi President Mohammed Shahabuddin and Prime Minister Sheikh also expressed their condolences in a statement.

"President Raisi's visionary approach as well as courage and dignity in dealing with difficult issues stand as a model and inspiration for all of us. Iran has lost a wise and erudite leader whose empathy with the people made him outstanding," Shahabuddin said.

According to a statement, Hasina said: "In this hour of grief, on behalf of the government of Bangladesh and on my own behalf, I convey our deepest condolences to the government and the brotherly people of Iran."

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