Many Indian news outlets used a concocted video of a former Pakistan diplomat to claim that 300 suspected insurgents were killed in the Balakot strike which followed the killing of over 40 Indian paramilitary troopers in Pulwama in its controlled Kashmir.
Fact checking website AltNews on Sunday reported that portions of former Pakistan diplomat ‘Agha’ Hilaly’s conversation during a talk show were clubbed together and posted online by a Twitter user on Friday.
The aftermath of the Balakot airstrike had given rise to media reports placing the casualties at 300 citing “top government sources” even as India’s then Defense Minister Nirmala Sitharaman had said that the casualty figure will not be provided.
Using the doctored video, the Indian media reports claimed that in a TV news debate Hilaly said, “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.”
AltNews found during its investigation that the clipped, doctored video cited by Indian media was made from a HUM news program called “Agenda Pakistan”.
The topic of the debate was “By using the vocabulary of the enemy (in this context “surgical strike”) is Pakistan making its own case weak?”.
As it came to fore that Indian media was using his doctored video to make a bogus claim, the former diplomat tweeted: “The extraordinarily extent to which the Indian Govt has gone to cut, splice and edit the tape of my Hum TV appearance suggests their desperation to prove what they failed to do, namely, lend credence to Modi’s lies about Balakot and his farcical claims.”
In another tweet, Hilaly said: “Modi is desperate for 3rd party confirmation for his lies and, not finding any, is doing a terrible job making it up.”
International media had reported that no one had died in the Balakot strikes.