Unfortunately, we in the Hurriyat Conference have never had an opportunity to interact with Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee. But, from what we have seen of him and from his actions, I can say confidently that he is the best administrator India has had in a long, long time.
Vajpayee is a man who does not flinch from taking bold steps. That is why we have such great hopes of him that he will help to eventually resolve the long-standing dispute in Kashmir.
Vajpayee is not a narrow-minded person. He does not think in communal terms. That is why we hope he achieves success in the mission he has embarked upon in Kashmir. Not only is he a good administrator, he is also a poet, and he will handle this problem in a sensitive manner.
In fact, I believe Vajpayee is the best prime minister after Jawaharlal Nehru. No prime minister since Nehru has had the courage of his convictions, until Vajpayee. That is why he has persevered in his attempts to resolve the Kashmir dispute. That is also why we are confident that his attempts for peace with Pakistan will move forward.
We hope that when he goes to Islamabad next month for the SAARC summit, he will take further steps to move the peace process ahead. This can only be good for both countries.
Pakistan's Information Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed was right when he said Vajpayee is the only hope for peace in the subcontinent. On the occasion of his 79th birthday, we pray that the prime minister's attempts for peace with Pakistan bear fruit, because that can only mean a just and honourable settlement of the Kashmir dispute and peace and prosperity for this entire region.
All Parties Hurriyat Conference chairman Moulvi Abbas Ansari spoke to Rajeev D Pai.