In Pak, Sharif mourns a friend

Busy addressing rallies as his party braces for polls early next year, former Pakistan prime minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday took a break to mourn the death of an "old friend".

In an email message to The Indian Express, Sharif said, "I am shocked and distressed at the passing away of the former Indian prime minister Mr Inder Kumar Gujral. Gujral saheb was not only an outstanding political leader, but also an accomplished diplomat and a man of letters."

"I found Gujral saheb well disposed towards Pakistan and was happy to have established warm and friendly relations with him. I extend my deep condolences to the people and Government of India as well as to the family of the late prime minister. In his death, we have lost a great humanist," he said.

Sharif enjoyed a good rapport with Gujral. A picture of Gujral and Sharif in a warm Punjabi embrace is displayed prominently amongst other global political dignitaries at his house in Lahore. Asked once who his favourite contemporary Indian politician was — this was around the time A B Vajpayee had made the bus yatra to Lahore — Sharif didn't hesitate to talk about "Gujral saheb" and his familiar "Punjabiness".

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