Ved Pratap Vaidik, in the vortex of a political storm over his meeting with LeT chief Hafiz Saeed, went to Pakistan on a supposed Track 2 dialogue, which was led by Congress leaders Manishankar Aiyarand former foreign minister Salman Khurshid. The delegation also included a number of senior journalists.
According to Khurshid, the delegation was in Islamabad for three-four days (including travel time) for a conference at the Regional Peace Initiative, Islamabad.
Aiyar is apparently on the board of this institute that organizes India-Pakistan track two dialogues. Senior journalist Swapan Dasgupta, widely seen as sympathetic to BJP, told a TV news channel that the Congress leader had invited him to join the delegation too. He told reporters that after the conference, Vaidik stayed back in Islamabad.
Vaidik said he had met Pakiatani PM Nawaz Sharif. He said his meeting with Saeed was organized by some journalist”friends” in Pakistan. It is well known that meeting. Saeed is no easy matter.
Ayesha Siddiqua, author of one of the most authoritative works on the Pakistan army, tweeted that she could not get access to Saeed. She said access to Saeed was controlled at the highest levels in the Pakistan army and ISI. This is more so after US and UN declared Saeed to be a global terrorist. The US has a $10 million bounty on his head.
In last week of June , the US piled on sanctions on Jamaat-ud-Dawa, a front for LeT, and other aliases of the organization. Saeed dismissed them but he does not actually make it a habit to meet foreigners.
What was ISI thinking when allowing Vaidik to meet Saeed? Did his publicized closeness to the BJP, RSS and the Modi government weigh with them, so they may have thought they were courting someone very close to ruling establishment in New Delhi? Or were they”playing” Vaidik, and through him, the BJP government. It’s not clear, but the incident has been very embarrassing for the Modi government, which has been fire-fighting for two days now.