Amid row over Ved Pratap Vaidik’s meeting with Mumbai attack mastermind Hafiz Saeed, Pakistan on Friday said it was not aware about the meeting and asserted that no action can be taken against the JuD Chief as there was no evidence against him.
Pakistan High Commissioner Abdul Basit, replying to a volley of questions on the issue during a Meet the Press programme at Press Club of India , said it was a meeting between two private persons.
“Our government was not aware of this meeting and nor was the Government of India. It was a meeting between two private individuals and nothing more,” Basit said.
Asked whether Pakistani intelligence agency ISI was also not aware about the meeting, he only said Pakistani Government has nothing to do with it.
On why no action was taken against the JuD chief for his alleged involvement in terror activities, the Pakistani High Commissioner said there was “no evidence” to prosecute Saeed.
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He said Pakistan government needs “hard evidence” to put Saeed in jail. “We do not have any evidence against him…We cannot put him in jail just to please anyone.”
On whether Pakistan will again give visa to Vaidik if he applies for it, Basit evaded a direct reply and said he often visits the country and was given the travel document along with other members of a delegation which participated in a conference there.
The meeting of Vaidik, known to be close to BJP supporter and yoga guru Ramdev, had triggered a row with Opposition taking on the government following which a report was sought from the Indian High Commission in Pakistan.
External Affairs Minister Sushma Swaraj on Thursday said the High Commission was not aware of the meeting.
Asked whether Vaidik had met Saeed in the past also, Basit said he was not aware of it.
On Saeed’s provocative statements against India and how he roams free in Pakistan, the envoy said Saeed is not a politician and he does not represent any political party.
India had accused Saeed of masterminding the terror attacks in India including the Mumbai attacks in 2008.
The US had announced a bounty of 10 million dollars on Saeed, who routinely makes provocative statements against India.
On granting of visa to Vaidik, the Pakistani High Commissioner said, “He was given visa for the conference. He stayed back. We are liberal in giving visas.”
Asked why two Indian journalists were asked to leave that country while Vaidik was allowed to move free, Basit said the scribes were not expelled and Pakistan was ready to consider their replacements.
“They (two journalists) were not expelled. They worked there..We are ready to consider application for their replacements. We have not received any application so far,” he said.
The two journalists- Snehesh Alex Philip of PTI and Meena Menon of The Hindu newspaper- were asked to leave the country in May within seven days after being asked to do so without being assigned any reason.
Asked about reports of attacks on Hindus in Karachi, he said these incidents are not only restricted to Hindus and said Pakistani government was confident that situation will improve there.