From NSA to US, China, praise for Mishra as an old, respected friend

At a prayer meeting for Brajesh Mishra, who died Friday, condolence messages for the man who helped shape India's national security apparatus were filled with such descriptions as "mentor", "illustrious and wise politician and diplomat", "irreplaceable friend", "shy person behind a tough exterior", and "someone who did not suffer fools".

The meeting at Chinmaya mission in New Delhi on Saturday, which was attended by the former National Security Advisor's family, friends and former colleagues, left many teary-eyed.

National Security Advisor Shivshankar Menon described Mishra as a kind man beneath a forbidding exterior, a realist and a legendary negotiator. Recounting an anecdote, he said he once asked Mishra about the secret of his negotiating skills. According to Menon, Mishra said: "Always give the other man something to take away from the table, however little, otherwise he will have no interest." Menon also said he had asked Mishra to write his memoirs but he refused, saying he can't write many things.

Journalist Kanchan Gupta, who once served in Vajpayee's PMO, read out messages by several leaders praising Mishra.

Congress chief Sonia Gandhi recalled him as a "highly accomplished" civil servant with an un-diminished passion and concern for national interest.

Former US Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice described him as a "tremendous diplomat, charmingly urbane, unfailingly calm and eminently reasonable".

China's former State Councillor Dai Bingguo remembered him as a "practitioner of diplomacy who was well-known to the Chinese people" and an old friend whom he respected.

Former Russian deputy prime minister Sergey Ivanov said he was a "wise politician and diplomat who enjoyed well-deserved respect among foreign colleagues".

Afghanistan President Hamid Karzai called him a "great patriot of India".

Former US envoy Robert D Blackwill recalled him as a "man of impeccable integrity and an irreplaceable friend".

BJP chief Nitin Gadkari, who attended the meeting, credited him for Vajpayee government's success in security and foreign policy matters.

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