Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has touched down in the United Arab Emirates to offer condolences over the death of its former president Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, state-run PTV reported.
The prime minister made a brief detour to the wealthy Gulf nation on his way back from the United Kingdom after the UAE's ailing president passed away on Friday. The late Sheikh Khalifa’s brother, Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, was elected yesterday to succeed him.
According to PTV, PM Shehbaz will today offer condolences to the newly elected President of the UAE, Sheikh Mohamed on the death of the late president.
On Saturday, the Foreign Office released a statement which said the Prime Minister will convey the “profound sympathies and condolences of the leadership, Government and people of Pakistan”.
Describing the Pakistan-UAE ties as a “close fraternal relationship”, the Foreign Office said under the leadership of Sheikh Khalifa, the relationship between Pakistan and the UAE “scaled new heights”.
“He was a sincere friend of Pakistan,” the statement said. “His invaluable contributions will be long remembered by the Government and the people of Pakistan.”
In solidarity with the brotherly people of UAE, the Pakistan announced a three-day national mourning period from May 13-15, with the national flag at half-mast.
Sheikh Khalifa's bin Zayed's death
Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed died on Friday, the UAE's Ministry of Presidential Affairs announced. He was also ruler of Abu Dhabi emirate.
“The Ministry of Presidential Affairs mourns to the UAE people, Arab and Islamic nations and the world the death of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who passed away on Friday,” the ministry had said in a statement on state media without giving further details.
Khalifa, born in 1948, had rarely been seen in public since suffering a stroke in 2014 and his half-brother Abu Dhabi Crown Prince Mohamed bin Zayed, known as MBZ, has been the de facto ruler of the US-allied UAE, an Opec oil producer.
“The UAE has lost its righteous son and leader of the 'empowerment phase' and guardian of its blessed journey,” MbZ had said on Twitter, praising Khalifa's wisdom and generosity.
Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed elected UAE president
The following day (Saturday), Sheikh Mohamed was elected as president. Sheikh Mohamed was elected by the Federal Supreme Council, WAM news agency said, becoming the ruler of the oil-rich country founded by his father in 1971.
Sheikh Mohamed, often known as 'MBZ', met members of the Federal Supreme Council, made up of rulers of the UAE's seven emirates, as the oil-rich country enters a period of mourning for his half-brother Sheikh Khalifa.
His ascension, which was widely expected, formalises his position as leader of the desert state of 10 million after years of calling the shots while Sheikh Khalifa was sidelined by poor health.
Under his low-key direction, the United Arab Emirates has put a man in space, sent a probe to Mars and opened its first nuclear reactor, while using its oil-funded clout to develop a more assertive foreign policy.
PM Shehbaz congratulated Sheikh Mohamed after he was elected as president.