Rebutting all the claims by the BJP, former vice president Hamid Ansari on Friday asserted that he stands by his previous statement that he never knew or invited Pakistani journalist Nusrat Mirza to any conference. The reaction came hours after the BJP held a press conference and cited a photograph of Ansari and Mirza purportedly sharing the stage during a 2009 conference in India on terrorism.
Issuing a statement, Ansari’s office said, “The former Vice President of India stands by his earlier statement that he never knew or invited Pakistan journalist Nusrat Mirza to any conference, including the 2010 conference mentioned by Nusrat Mirza or 2009 conference on terrorism or on any other occasion.”
Earlier, Ansari had said that it is a known fact that invitations to foreign dignitaries by the Vice-President of India are on the advice of the government, generally through the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA). He had dismissed the claims by BJP and called it a “litany of falsehood”.
The controversy erupted after Mirza claimed that he had visited India five times during the UPA rule and passed on sensitive information collected in Delhi to his country’s spy agency ISI. Mirza purportedly commented that he had visited India on Ansari’s invitations and also met him. Clips of Mirza’s interview in Pakistan have been doing the rounds on social media for the last few days and claimed to have given secret and classified information to the Pakistani spy agency Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI).
BJP Uses Photo to Back Its Claim
The BJP has stepped up its attack on the Congress over the same.
Addressing the media, BJP’s national spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia showed a picture of Ansari purportedly sharing a stage with Mirza at a conference on terrorism in India in 2009. People holding constitutional posts should act responsibly and should have not shared the stage with Mirza, Bhatia said.
Hitting out at the Congress, Bhatia said intelligence clearance is required for holding such programmes and inviting dignitaries from abroad. For a programme of someone holding a constitutional post, protocol dictates that his office gathers information about those involved in the event. In such a situation, would it not be correct to believe that the Congress wanted a person from Pakistan to enter India and hurt its integrity, he alleged.
(with inputs from PTI)