Islamabad: Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif on Friday expressed shock at the demise of anti-apartheid icon Nelson Mandela, saying the world had been deprived of a beacon of hope for oppressed people.
"Nelson Mandela is a symbol of unflinching resolve and struggle against tyranny and injustice. His honesty of purpose and commitment to a very noble cause would be remembered for all times to come," Sharif said in a statement.
The death of the 95-year-old Nobel laureate has deprived South Africa and the whole world of a great leader, he said.
"He has been a beacon of hope for oppressed people the world over. Nelson Mandela will continue to live forever in the hearts and minds of the people of Pakistan, who were deeply touched by his affection that he had shown during his two visits to Islamabad," the statement said.
Paying tribute to his visionary leadership, Sharif praised Mandela`s services and untiring struggle for equality, human rights and liberty of the oppressed.
"May God bless the members of the bereaved family as well as the people of South Africa with the courage and fortitude to bear this irreparable loss and the ability to continue to follow his footsteps to make this world a better place for everyone," he said.
In a letter to South African President Jacob Zuma, Sharif said Pakistan had been at the forefront of international efforts to dismantle apartheid.
"The people of Pakistan are proud to walk the last mile of democracy in South Africa. Nelson Mandela appreciated Pakistan`s support and twice visited Islamabad, first in 1992 and then in May in 1999," he wrote.
During the second visit, Mandela addressed a joint session of parliament, when he had stated "our nations are joined, not only by cultural and religious bonds, but also by common experiences and challenges, we have both struggled and sacrificed for the ideals of freedom and learned how valuable democracy is", he added.