NEW DELHI: Pakistan reiterated on Friday that it needs “hard evidence” to put Jamaatud Dawa chief Hafiz Saeed in jail, saying it cannot do so just to please India.
“We can’t put him in jail just to please everyone,” said Pakistan High Commissioner in New Delhi Abdul Basit. The envoy was speaking to reporters about the meeting between Indian journalist Ved Pratap Vaidik and Hafiz Saeed, which has sparked a massive controversy in India. “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 why he called Hafiz Saeed, the man on top of India’s most wanted list, a private citizen, Basit said, “We call him that because there is no hard evidence against him. We can’t put him in jail just to please everyone. America may have a bounty, but we need hard evidence.” New Delhi accuses Saeed of plotting a series of terror strikes in India, including the 26/11 Mumbai attacks in 2008. Vaidik’s meeting with Hafiz Saeed left the ruling BJP facing opposition attacks in parliament.
The Congress questioned whether the government arranged the meeting. The party alleges that Vaidik is linked to the ruling BJP’s ideological partner RSS. The senior journalist is also close to yoga teacher Ramdev, who had campaigned for the BJP in the national election. The Pakistan high commissioner said Vaidik was part of a delegation that went to attend a conference. “He was given visa for that purpose and he stayed back. We are liberal in giving visas,” he said.
The high commissioner said that Pakistan would welcome newly-elected Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi who, he added, “struck a chord” with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. “Modi will be welcomed whenever he comes to Pakistan. We hope the high-level visit will take place,” Basit said, adding that Prime Minister Nawaz had a good interaction with Modi in May at his inauguration in India. The high commissioner said Pakistan was in touch with India for a meeting between their foreign secretaries. “We are in touch with each other and things are moving forward.”
Basit said ceasefire violation along the India-Pakistan international border was a result of “unprovoked firing” from the Indian side. He rubbished allegations of ceasefire violations by Pakistani Rangers. “That’s the narrative that exists in India unfortunately... according to our information, it was unprovoked fire from the Indian side...if you watch Pakistan TV you will get a different story... (similarly) Indian TV has a different story...that’s the gap we need to bridge...and it cannot happen unless we are objective,” he said. The high commissioner said the government of Pakistan was committed to improving relations with India.
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