Cornered govt slams Vaidik for meeting Saeed

Cornered govt slams Vaidik for meeting Saeed

Allegation that scribe was India's emissary is baseless: Sushma

Cornered govt slams Vaidik for meeting Saeed

After two days of blitzkrieg from the Opposition, the government on Tuesday finally condemned the recent meeting between Indian journalist Ved Pratap Vaidik and 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed.

 The government described it as a “diplomatic misadventure of a private citizen”.
“I have asked for a report from the Indian High Commission in Pakistan. Once I get it, I will share it with the House. The government condemns Vaidik’s meeting with the main accused of Mumbai terror attack,” External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj said in the Rajya Sabha.

Sushma’s statement came at the fag end of the day after the government was put on the mat by the Opposition forcing the Chair to adjourn both the Houses twice in the morning.
As Parliament witnessed uproarious scenes, the government quickly distanced itself from the scribe, who is associated with a Delhi-based foundation, known for its saffron agenda. To pacify the vociferous members, Sushma spoke in the Lok Sabha in the Zero Hour.

“With full responsibility, I categorically and unequivocally want to tell this House that the government had no role in Vaidik’s Pakistan trip or his meeting with Hafiz Saeed. Neither before going to Pakistan nor after reaching there did he inform us that he is meeting Saeed.

It was purely his personal trip. The allegation that he was India’s emissary and the government helped him is absolutely baseless and unfortunate. India had nothing to do with this,” she said in the Lok Sabha.

Finance Minister Arun Jaitley reiterated in the Upper House that the government had nothing to do with it, not directly or indirectly, and it was a “diplomatic misadventure of a private citizen”.

Further clarifying the government’s position, Sushma said, “There was no hidden agenda and no back channel talks with Hafiz Saeed. The government disapproves of the meeting.”

Vaidik also gave a controversial interview to a Pakistani television channel in which he advocated creation of a separate Kashmir state unifying the Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and Jammu and Kashmir. “This is crossing the Lakshman rekha,” said Ghulam Nabi Azad, Leader of the Opposition in the Rajya Sabha.  Sushma didn’t comment on the accusation of Samajwadi Party leader Naresh Agarwal that the Indian High Commissioner in Pakistan was aware of the meeting between Vaidik and Saeed.

“There is no silence on the part of the government. In the morning, the Leader of the House (Jaitley) spoke. I gave a statement in the Lok Sabha,” the external affairs minister said, countering an allegation from Congress leader Anand Sharma who said the “deafening silence from the government is intriguing.”

Vaidik was part of a 13-member Indian delegation that went to Pakistan in June at the invite of Regional Peace Institute run by former Pakistani foreign minister Khurshid Mehmood Kasuri to attend a conference.

While most of the members returned soon after the conference, Vaidik stayed back. The meeting with the terrorist took place in Lahore on July 2.

“What was our intelligence agencies and High Commission officials doing there? He claimed to have met Hafiz Saeed for an interview but his only article that appeared after the tour did not mention Saeed,” said Azad.

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