The row over the meeting between journalist Ved Prakash Vaidik with 26/11 terror mastermind Hafiz Saeed in Pakistan on Tuesday stalled Parliament for the second consecutive day, with the government stating it has nothing to do with it and terming it as “diplomatic misadventure of a private individual”. It is irrelevant whether he met Saeed as a self-appointed envoy of the government, as part of a Track II diplomatic initiative that may have included former Union ministers or other high-profile interlocutors or as freelance journalist. Claiming to be close to the current dispensation he shamed the country by his interview to Pakistan TV in which he supported the creation of an independent Jammu and Kashmir. And he has managed to cause embarrassment to those whose proximity he unabashedly boasts about.
What exactly transpired during his meeting with Saeed is not known, but his claim to reform a man who proudly wears on his hands the blood of hundreds of innocent Indians would test the credulity of even the most gullible. His visit has raised many questions about the utility of Track II diplomacy which is dominated by retired, tired and fired civil servants and columnists. The choice of who should be engaged in Track II diplomacy is invariably shrouded in mystery.
The Modi government should learn lessons from this individual diplomatic misadventure, dismantle the current infrastructure of Track II diplomatic traders and replace them with those for whom national interest is above considerations. The fact is that a number of think tanks have been infiltrated by lobbyists sponsored by pro-Pakistan and pro-US corporate houses and even the government funds some of them. The National Democratic Alliance regime must deal with credible people whose track record is impeccable and keep away the retired people who were part of the mess which its has inherited from the previous UPA dispensation. The government must force all the think tanks to make sources of their funding public and ensure that they are brought within the purview of the Right to Information Act.