ISLAMABAD: Pakistan on Sunday asked the international community to hold India accountable for vitiating the regional security environment after a leaked WhatsApp conversation of Indian anchor Arnab Goswami confirmed that the Pulwama attack was a “false flag” operation to ensure the re-election of Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
The Foreign Office said in a statement that the chat made public by Mumbai police as part of its investigations into the manipulation of TV ratings vindicated Pakistan’s stance.
According to ThePrint, a New Delhi-based online newspaper, the exchange between Goswami and then Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) chief executive Partho Dasgupta over WhatsApp, a multiplatform messaging application, revealed that Modi and his Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) administration had planned the airstrike, just before the election, in a way that would ‘elate’ the people.
At least 40 Indian paramilitary troops were killed in an attack that took place in February 2019 in Pulwama just weeks before the Indian parliamentary elections.
India was quick to blame Pakistan for the attack and rejected repeated offers of co-operation by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
Just days after the Pulwama attack, India sent its fighter jets across Pakistan, for the first time since 1971 war, dropping bombs in a hurry when chased out by Pakistani fighter jets.
Indian media and authorities claimed to kill 250 to 300 terrorists in the Jaba area of Balakot. But those claims were not only rebuffed by Pakistan but also international media outlets, which found no such evidence. In reaction to the Indian airstrikes, Pakistan retaliated the very next day, shooting down two Indian planes of which one fell on this side of Line of Control (LoC). Pakistan captured the Indian pilot but freed him soon to avoid further escalation.
Modi used the Pulwama attack and Balakot so called strikes to woo the domestic audience as part of his election campaign.
Now the revelation from the leaked chat by the leading Indian TV anchor, who is known for being funded by the ruling BJP, confirmed that Pulwama attack was staged to amplify Modi’s election bid.
“In recent months, the world community has been presented with irrefutable evidence of India’s state-sponsorship of terrorism against Pakistan and anti-Pakistan disinformation and smear campaign globally,” the foreign office said in the statement.
“The transcripts included in the Mumbai police charge-sheet against the Republic TV anchor in the TRP case have further exposed India’s sinister designs and vindicated Pakistan’s long-held position,” it added.
It said the latest revelations further confirmed what Pakistan had consistently pointed out: The BJP government stages “false flag” operations; maligns Pakistan with terrorism-related allegations; stokes hyper-nationalism in the country; claims to have launched so-called “surgical strike”; and then deviously manipulates national sentiment in its bid to win elections. The pattern is unmistakable and has been repeated to suit the RSS-BJP regime’s electoral calculations.
“We had, at the outset, rejected India’s malicious propaganda against Pakistan and highlighted that the biggest beneficiary of the Pulwama attack in February 2019 was the BJP government, as it secured landslide victory in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections. The transcripts provide further evidence of how this whole enterprise from ‘false flag’ operation to massive electoral success was scripted and fully realised.”
It further said the transcripts also illustrated the unholy nexus between the ‘Hindutva’ regime and its cronies in the Indian media.
“On the one hand, they show how far and deeply the extremist agenda of the RSS-BJP combine has permeated India’s institutions and pillars of the state. On the other hand, they show how the rights and freedoms of Indian citizens and democratic values in Indian society are being seriously jeopardised through cynical manipulation. Equally important, they show how actions of this reckless regime driven by considerations of domestic politics are gravely imperilling regional peace and security.”
The statement also said Pakistan, for its part, will continue to counter Indian falsehoods with truth and act firmly and responsibly in the face of New Delhi’s provocations.
“We hope that the international community would take full cognizance of the situation and hold India accountable for its actions vitiating the regional environment and endangering peace and security in South Asia,” the statement concluded.