The government's position on a meeting that a journalist had with 26/11 mastermind Hafiz Saeed got endorsement from an unexpected quarter on Wednesday with Congress leader Salman Khurshid saying it was a "private initiative" and the Indian High Commission in Islamabad had nothing to do with it.
"To my knowledge, the Indian High Commission has nothing to do with it... but I don't know. They must be sending a report on this," said Khurshid, who along with Congress MP Mani Shankar Aiyar was also a part of the delegation of the regional peace initiative that visited Pakistan. He was speaking to reporters on the sidelines of an event in New Delhi.
The government has been facing attacks from the Opposition over Ved Pratap Vaidik's meeting with Saeed and has even asked the Indian High Commission in Pakistan for a report on this.
Khurshid also said that no special arrangement was being made by the Indian High Commission in facilitating the meeting of Vaidik with Saeed. "I can speculate... nothing in front of me in the normal course appeared that any special arrangement was being made. We were all at the High Commissioner's House at the dinner, but that is related to regional peace initiatives and nothing to do with any private initiative," Khurshid said.
He said that he had no idea about Vaidik's meeting with Saeed and it was his personal visit. "I know nothing because it all done after we left Pakistan and we had no idea what he did and how he did. This (the issue) was raised in Parliament and the government has said that it will seek a report and keep people informed. This was obviously on a personal initiative of Mr Vaidik which is just coincidental that he was in the delegation," Khurshid said.
He also slammed political parties for disassociating Vaidik. "People are washing their hands off people. He knows a lot of people from all our parties and has been round for a long time. So people may disagree with him ...that is a different matter. What is happening that people are washing hands off," the former external affairs minister said.
He added that emphasis should not be given to the issue by raking it up as this means giving importance to Saeed, who for India is an "extremely unwholesome character".
Image: Former External Affairs Minister Salman Khurshid