NEW DELHI: With both houses of Parliament repeatedly adjourned on Tuesday due to disruptions by Opposition on journalist Ved Pratap Vaidik’s meeting with terrorist Hafiz Saeed in Pakistan, Arun Jaitley in Rajya Sabha and Sushma Swaraj in Lok Sabha had to clarify the government’s position. “The government of India totally disapproves of this meeting... The government condemns this meeting with the chief accused of Mumbai terror attacks,” Swaraj told Lok Sabha.
Meanwhile, officials were surprised that Vaidik had characterised himself as an expert and had contacts across Af-Pak, especially since he was virtually unknown in South Block. “We had never heard of him,” said an official. They were also categorical that there was no contact between Vaidik and the Indian High Commission in Islamabad prior to his meeting with Saeed.
Boasting about his contacts, Vaidik had claimed that he was asked by former Prime Minister Atal Bihari Vajpayee to meet with Taliban leaders during the IC814 hijacking in 1999. A Pakistan TV journalist, who spoke to Vaidik during his recent visit there, remembered that he was regaling on his contacts on that side of the border. “He told me about meeting with General Pervez Musharraf’s brother in October 1999 in New York,” the journalist told Express.
Apparently, Vaidik told him that a contact took him to a friend’s house in New York. “The host was apparently stuck to watching the television, which was a bit rude. When asked why he was watching the TV, he told him that his brother was in charge of the coup,” he had told him.
Vaidik met the Pakistani journalist in the Islamabad press club, which he visited alone after his fellow Track-2 colleagues had left the country. “Vaidik told me that he had a role in the charter of democracy signed between Benazir Bhutto and Nawaz Sharif. That was a little difficult to believe,” he said.
Meanwhile, Vaidik told the media in Delhi that he felt hurt that Congress leaders had demanded his arrest and categorically denied being part of the RSS, as claimed by Congress leader Rahul Gandhi. “I have never been an RSS man. Let Rahul Gandhi say what he wants,” he said.