Media outlets from across the border, including India Today and NDTV, have apologised for airing a doctored video of Pakistani analyst and former diplomat Zafar Hilaly, wherein due to editing, he appeared to be supporting Indian claims of hundreds of casualties in the 2018 cross-border aggression by New Delhi.
Several Indian television channels, newspapers and websites had carried the report by news agency ANI on Hilaly’s remarks that he made while speaking to a Pakistani media outlet over Indian claims of 300 terrorists dying in the Balakot airstrike on February 26, 2019.
Besides ANI, India Today and NDTV, the story was reported by Republic, The Times of India, Moneycontrol, WION, Hindustan Times, NE Now, Odisha TV, Jagran, Swarajya, Lokmat, Oneindia, Deccan Herald, Business Today, Livemint, DNA, The Quint, News18 India, HW News, CNBC TV18 and ABP News among others.
One of the reports said, “The admission by the former Pakistani diplomat, who regularly takes the Pakistan army side in TV debates, goes against the zero casualties claim made by Islamabad at that time.”
Here’s how India Today reported the same:
“India crossed the international border and did an act of war in which at least 300 were reported dead. Our target was different from theirs. We targeted their high command. That was our legitimate target because they are men of the military. We subconsciously accepted that a surgical strike — a limited action — did not result in any casualty. Now we have subconsciously told them that, whatever they will do, we’ll do only that much and won’t escalate,” ANI had quoted Hilaly as saying.
But a fact-check by Alt News found that the comments were misreported. Hilaly also tweeted a video saying his statement was spliced and edited.
In the debate posted on YouTube by HUM News as part of a programme called “Agenda Pakistan”, Hilaly had actually said, “What you did, India, was an act of war. By crossing the international boundary, India committed an act of war in which they intended to kill at least 300 people.”
While the report has since been retracted by all outlets, here’s what India Today tweeted.
The 2019 Balakot airstrike was conducted by India in the early morning hours of February 27 when Indian warplanes crossed the de facto border in the disputed region of Kashmir, and dropped bombs in the vicinity of the town of Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KP) province in Pakistan.
While India claimed having destroyed terror camps “established on the Pakistani side” with hundreds of terrorists dead, Pakistan had rebutted the claims and sent a group of both local and foreign journalists to the area to ascertain the facts by themselves.
The episode had led to tensions running high between the two countries for months and embarrassment for India after Pakistan shot down one of its intruding fighter jets besides capturing an Indian Air Force (IAF) pilot.
What do you think of the yet another rather embarrassing moment for Indian media? Let The Current know in the comments…