We are not sure what to believe at this point. A Nixon going to China moment was always a possibility. But a few things are fairly clear. Vaidik went with a delegation that included Mani Shankar (Modi can serve us tea in Congress sessions) Iyer who has many fans in the Pak establishment. So while not a “Aman ki Asha” brand they certainly came in peace.
Vaidik would not have been able to meet with Saeed unless there was clearance from the Deep State (did anybody worry at all that VPV would detonate a bomb and eliminate HS – thus collecting $10 mil posthumously – now that would be a sensational story).
Some deep-state czar may have wanted to get an inner view of Modi Sarkar and thought that VPV can be helpful. This is speculation, yet the most likely explanation.
At the end of the day Indian media and pols are revealed to be a bunch of self-serving clowns (yes we already knew). OTOH while Saeed as a viper is not to be underestimated, he is mostly a deep state puppet. He should have at least had the courtesy of supplying a few golden nuggets like how India would be shortly re-captured by the descendants of Md. Ghori and Babur. That would have certainly made the Indian media explode in excitement.
As far as Vaidik is concerned, he seems to be an amiable idiot who can only find time to gossip about private morality (the life of the wives etc) while glossing over the public vices. While 26/11 is a watershed event and the war-criminals must be held to account, it is also the case that thousands have died before and after because of the vipers amidst us and no lessons have been learned. It was time that this is exposed, but that would require journalists with integrity, courage and vision, who are not necessarily after fame and fortune. That would be more difficult than finding a better fast bowler than Bhuvaneshwar Prasad (go Bhuvi!!!).
Within a span of four days our hyper TV news channels and politicians
gifted Ved Pratap Vaidik something that has eluded him for four
decades: his 15 minutes of national fame.
Until his controversial
meeting with Hafiz Saeed his name didn’t ring a bell much beyond Delhi’s
incestuous circle of policy wonks and media persons. That rendezvous,
shrouded in mystery, catapulted him to centre stage.
Sadly for Vaidik the 15 minutes of fame swiftly metamorphosed into
interminable hours of infamy. Never in his long professional career was
he the butt of so much strident criticism, insult and ridicule. None of
this, however, seems to have made an iota of difference to him. He has
remained true to himself: smug in the conviction that Destiny has
reserved for him a calling that goes far beyond his sentient avatars as a
journalist, scholar, ideologue and orator.
That smug conviction earned for him a rather unsavory reputation,
especially in the eyes of his peers in the media and in the political
establishment, as a compulsive name-dropper and an amiable bore who
sought a place in the sun with his smooth talk and obsequious demeanor.
He was seen, in plain words, as a social climber and a parvenu.
All of this served to eclipse some of Vaidik’s admirable qualities:
his flair to reach out to politicians of every ideological persuasion,
his range and depth of first-hand knowledge of developments in South
Asia, his enviable network of contacts in high places in the region and,
not least, his cheerful disposition that allowed him to persuade his
bitterest critics to engage with him. That is no mean achievement for
someone who has been a freelance columnist for newspapers that command
little influence among those who make policies and shape opinion.
His controversial meeting with Saeed, therefore, needs to be seen in a
more tempered perspective. A journalist has every right to sup even
with the devil if he is able to wangle a news story out of him.
the most compelling interviews with Adolf Hitler — denounced as a
dangerous demagogue in western democracies — were conducted by reputed
American journalists like H R Knickerbocker for Chicago Tribune and
Dorothy Thomson for Cosmopolitan. Well-known German journalist Emil
Ludwig interviewed Mussolini and Stalin when the dictators were at the
height of their power. H G Wells also interviewed Stalin for New
Statesman and Nation.
And there is the remarkable example of Edgar Snow who met Mao Zedong —
persona non grata in the West until the mid-1960s — both during the
Long March and after the establishment of the People’s Republic and
published his interviews in influential publications worldwide. Other
great interviewers include Italian journalist Orianna Fallaci and CNN’s
Christiane Amanpour: both managed to interview another bete-noire of the
West, Ayatollah Khomeini of Iran.
Vaidik is obviously nowhere in this league. But that is not the
point. The point is that these journalists who interviewed individuals
regarded as sworn enemies of their respective countries did not generate
hysterical reactions against them. There were no calls to arrest them
or to try them for treason. Quite to the contrary, the interviewers won
accolades for discharging their professional duty with exemplary
As a journalist, Vaidik, therefore, was well within his rights to
interview Saeed without seeking a nod from anyone. But did he in fact
meet him in that capacity? He has explained that the rendezvous with
this hate-monger was fixed on the spur of the moment. That, to say the
least, is odd. Nobody can come within sniffing distance of Saeed, who is
on the list of wanted men of the US, UN and India, without clearance
from the top-most political and intelligence echelons in Pakistan.
What transpired during the rendezvous is also hazy. A journalist,
especially from India, would have used the occasion to ask Saeed tough
questions about his role in instigating terrorist acts on Indian soil.
Did Vaidik ask those questions? That is far from clear.
Would a journalist who did get a chance to question Saeed not have
seized the first opportunity to publish the interview? Vaidik didn’t do
that. What he has revealed in his TV interviews is risible: remarks
about Narendra Modi’s marital status, Saeed’s three wives, whether he
would protest against a Modi trip to Pakistan etc. That speaks poorly of
his professional competence. But this is hardly a reason to cry
The truth may well be more mundane. Vaidik was given access to Saeed
and other influential people in Pakistan because his hosts reckoned,
doubtless on the strength of their guest’s own claims, that he was close
to Modi and the new dispensation in Delhi. Such a reckoning was wholly
misleading. The Pakistanis should have known that Vaidik has always
punched above his weight. Now they have egg on their face.
And so do hysterical sections of the media and the political class.
Both failed to understand that the likes of Saeed and Vaidik survive and
thrive on the oxy-gen of publicity, even of the adverse sort. The
failure reveals an appalling lack of judgment.