Journalist BJP cited to target Hamid Ansari known in Pakistan as conspiracy peddler

Karachi-based Nusrat Mirza, who has written columns in Nawa-i-Waqt and Jang newspapers and now hosts a programme on Such TV, is known in the Pakistan media fraternity as a “name dropper” and “self-projector”.

On Wednesday, BJP spokesperson Gaurav Bhatia targeted Ansari, and cited “television reports and social media” to claim Mirza had said that Ansari invited him to India and shared sensitive and secret information — charges that Ansari rejected, calling it a “litany of falsehood”.

Bhatia appeared to have based these allegations on an interview of Mirza by Pakistani YouTuber Shakil Chaudhary.

In the interview, Mirza makes two passing mentions of Ansari, but does not say he had any conversation with the then Vice President.

In the first reference, he said he had gone to Delhi and attended a conference on terrorism “in 2010, when Hamid Ansari was the Vice-President”.

Responding to the BJP’s smear attack on him, Ansari has said that on December 11, 2010, he inaugurated the ‘International Conference of Jurists on International Terrorism and Human Rights’, for which the list of invitees would have been drawn by the organisers, and that he neither invited nor met Mirza.

In the interview, Mirza mentions Ansari again when he says he met many “Congress leaders” including Ansari. But he makes no specific mention of meeting Ansari and speaking to him.

Mirza did not respond to phone calls and messages from The Indian Express for comment.

Projecting himself as an “India expert”, Mirza tells interviewer Chaudhary that he visited several places in India, that he had a seven-city visa for India, and visited in 2005 and 2006.

More than once during the course of the 50-minute interview, Mirza laments that his knowledge and experience of India was never taken seriously by “anyone” in Pakistan, and perhaps with time, his contribution to strategic affairs would be realised.

He was responding to Chaudhury’s question that if India was indeed such an existential threat to Pakistan, why there were no Pakistani “India experts” who had studied all aspects of the country. Mirza said he knew about India, Indian Muslims, and that he could count many friends among them.

He said that after a visit in 2006 during which he visited several cities, then Pakistan Foreign Minister Khurshid Kasuri — he claimed Kasuri got him a seven-city India visa (usually Pakistani visitors at that time got only a three-city visa) — advised him to pass on all the information to then ISI DG Ashfaq Parvez Kayani.

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“I said I am not going to meet Kayani, you may pass it on to him,” Mirza tells Chaudhury, claiming that a few days later, he got a call from “a Brigadier” who asked him if he had any more information. “I told him haven’t I given you enough, work on this.”

He said Pakistan understood India well “kyon ki hum Mughal hai, hum ne hukmarani ki thi, we understand them.”

Journalists in Pakistan expressed incredulity that “a non-entity” like Mirza was ever on speaking terms with Kasuri. A regular in Kasuri’s inner circle of journalists told The Indian Express that he had never seen Mirza or heard Kasuri speak about him. “His entire story falls flat right there,” a senior journalist said.

Chaudhury, whose interview appeared to be an attempt to debunk some of the theories that Mirza peddles on his talk show and columns, says he got “the distinct impression” that his guest was “name dropping” and “trying to project himself” as someone who knew more than he did.

In the interview, the YouTuber reminded Mirza about the columns in which he had claimed that the 2005 earthquake and the 2010 floods in Pakistan and the 2011 tsunami were engineered by the “Amreeki” (Americans).

Mirza said he stood by what he had said then as the US wanted to control the world through “weather modification”. He also referred to the US military’s HAARP surveillance project as having caused these disasters. Told that this had been refuted by eminent scientists such as Pervez Hoodbhoy, Mirza said he did not care about “any Hoodbhoy”, and that he was right.

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