As Saeed walks free in Pak, Opposition combines to put UPA on the mat

Written by Political Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: Aug 6 2009, 04:43am hrs
A combined Opposition revived its attack on the Manmohan Singh government on the mishandling of the terror issue, a day after Mumbai attacks mastermind, Hafiz Saeed, was allowed to walk free by the Pakistani Supreme Court on Monday.

The BJP-led NDA, Samajwadi Party and RJD joined hands in the Lok Sabha this morning to demand a statement from either the Prime Minister or external affairs minister SM Krishna over the development, which they charged had rendered the joint statement meaningless and had hurt Indias self respect. They staged a walkout after the government took refuge under House rules issues raised during Zero Hour do not mandate a reply from the treasury benches.

Samajwadi Party chief Mulayam Singh Yadav raised the issue on Monday, and found immediate support from the BJP, Shiv Sena, JD(U) and RJD. It prompted an adjournment when the government refused to oblige the SP chief and others who raised it. Saeeds release, Yadav said, indicated Pakistans lack of will to nab the JuD chief and exposed the hollowness of the Prime Ministers statement regarding the need to trust and verify Islamabads actions against terrorism.

When the House reconvened, Leader of Opposition LK Advani reminded the government that its own dossier handed over to Pakistan had described Saeed as the mastermind of Mumbai attacks. Referring to comments made by external affairs minister Krishna to a newspaper that Saeeds prosecution is an acid test and talks with Pakistan would be futile till it acted against him, Advani said the minister should reaffirm his remarks in Parliament. Flashing the newspaper, Advani also pointed out Krishnas assertion that till Pakistan acts, there would be no meaning of talks regardless of the number of times the foreign ministers or foreign secretaries met.

This statement amounts to contradicting the statement by the Prime Minister who has agreed to delink terror from dialogue in the Sharm el-Sheikh statement. But I will be happy if he does it in the House, the BJP leader said.

RJD chief Lalu Prasad and JD(U) leader Sharad Yadav also put the treasury benches on the mat, with the latter pointing out that the ink on the joint statement had not even dried and Saeed was set free. The RJD chief said he supported Advani because it was a matter relating to national interest. By setting Saeed free, Pakistan has shown us the mirror. It has told us bluntly that this is your standing, he said, as members cried shame. Earlier, Mulayam Singh Yadav had also alleged that the Prime Minister had eased pressure on Pakistan which had been built after the Mumbai attacks.