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World Leaders Remember Father of the Nation Mohammad Zahir Shah

On Monday heads of state and leaders across the world expressed their condolences to the Afghan people upon the passing of the former King and Father of the Nation Mohammad Zahir Shah. U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki Moon was "deeply saddened" by the death and sent his condolences to the former King’s family, as well as the Afghan government and people. Mohammad Zahir Shah will be remembered for the long period of peace and development during his reign," Ban said in a statement. "He was responsible for adopting a Constitution in 1964 that was a model of tolerance, as well as a synthesis of the best of Islamic and modern political thought."

U.S. President George W. Bush mourned the former King as a "monumental figure" in his country's history. "Zahir Shah was a monumental figure in Afghan history, and his life spanned vast changes in that country's political system…Zahir Shah supported the goal of a representative and freely elected government in his homeland, and he encouraged Afghanistan toward democracy and stability," he said.

In expressing her condolences, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said Zahir Shah’s decision to step aside as reigning king "reflected his understanding of the benefits of a democratic society in meeting the aspirations of the Afghan people for peace and reconstruction." He fostered unity in Afghanistan and played an essential role in the democratic rebirth of his country, Rice said.

NATO’s leadership expressed their condolences to the Afghan people. NATO Secretary General Jaap de Hoop Scheffer said in a statement, "Zahir Shah symbolized the unity of a nation which the Afghan people, with our support, are rebuilding today. NATO will remain committed to helping achieve that vision."

Pakistan’s President General Pervez Musharraf and Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz expressed sorrow over the death of the former King. The two leaders in separate messages to President Karzai noted Shah’s contribution to peace, stability and welfare of Afghanistan. Musharraf described the former king “a man of peace who led his nation with wisdom in difficult times spanning over four decades.”

India observed the death of the former King by lowering its national flag on state buildings and diplomatic missions worldwide.

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