India exposed on Balakot strike | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, January 19, 2021 / LAST MODIFIED: 03:08 AM, January 19, 2021

India exposed on Balakot strike

Pak PM says leaked chat shows BJP conducted 2019 air raid to win polls

Pakistan said a 2019 air raid by India was a "false flag" operation conducted by India's governing Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP)​ for electoral gains and urged the world community to stop its long-time rival's "reckless, militarist agenda".

In a series of tweets yesterday, Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan said India's "fascist" government led by his counterpart Narendra Modi "used the Balakot crisis for domestic electoral gains", referring to the Indian raid on the northwestern Pakistani town on February 26, 2019.

Khan's tweets followed the publication of hundreds of pages of the transcript of WhatsApp chats between prominent right-wing Indian TV anchor Arnab Goswami and Partho Dasgupta, the incarcerated head of the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) ratings company.

The chats, published as evidence submitted by the police in Mumbai city as part of an ongoing investigation into manipulation of television ratings, suggest that Goswami, Republic TV's co-owner and host, knew in advance of New Delhi's plan to attack Balakot in Pakistan's Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.

India's "surgical strike", which it claimed was targeting a training camp for Kashmiri rebels in Balakot, was conducted to avenge the killings of 40 Indian soldiers in Indian-administered Kashmir's Pulwama area earlier that month.

India had blamed Pakistan-backed Kashmiri rebels for the February 14 attack on its military convoy, an allegation Islamabad denied.

On the day following the Balakot attack, the Pakistani Air Force shot down an Indian Air Force aircraft and captured a pilot, who was later released by Islamabad as a "goodwill gesture".

Since their independence from British rule in 1947, India and Pakistan have fought two of their three wars over Kashmir – a Himalayan region split between them but claimed by both the nuclear powers in its entirety.

According to the WhatsApp chat transcript, published in a report on the Scroll.in news website, Goswami texted Dasgupta on February 23, 2019, three days before the Balakot attack, saying "something big will happen".

Pakistan's Khan yesterday said the chats "reveal the dirty nexus" between the Indian government and its media "that is pushing our nuclearised region to the brink of a conflict it cannot afford".

 "Latest revelations from communication of an Indian journalist, known for his warmongering, reveal the unholy nexus between the Modi govt & Indian media that led to a dangerous military adventurism to win an election in utter disregard for the consequences of destabilising the entire region," Khan tweeted.

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