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Balakot & Kashmir: Fact Checkers Expose Indian Lies

Indian government and media have made a series of false claims about Balakot "militant casualties" and "shooting down Pakistani F16". Both of these claims have been scrutinized and debunked by independent journalists, experts and fact checkers. There is no dispute about the fact that Squadron Leader Hasan Siddiqui of Pakistan Air Force (PAF), flying a Pakistan-made JF-17 fighter, shot down Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman of Indian Air Force (IAF) flying a Russia made MiG 21. Abhinandan was captured by Pakistan and then released to India.

Pakistani F-16:

PAF's Hasan Siddiqui (above) shot down IAF's Wing Commander Abhi (below)

Indian government and media claimed that an Indian Air Force pilot shot down a Pakistani F-16 on February 26, 2019 over Kashmir. This claim and the evidence offered were examined by Belling Cat, a fact-check site that successfully investigated the downing of a Malaysian passenger jet over Ukraine. Belling Cat's Veli-Pekka Kivimäkithere concluded that "no compelling evidence offered as of yet that an F-16 would have been shot down, and all signs point to MiG-21 wreckage having been on display thus far".

Abhijit Aiyar Mitra, an Indian aviation expert participating in an India Today TV Show, embarrassed the show host on a live show when asked to identify a wrecked engine as being an F-16 engine. The expert correctly stated that Pakistani F-16s are equipped with Pratt and Whitney engines and what the TV host was calling a Pakistani F-16 engine was made by a different manufacturer.

Both Kivimäki and Mitra concluded that the image offered as evidence of Pakistani F-16 engine was in fact from a MiG 21 wreckage.

Balakot Casualties:

Announcing the Indian air strikes in Pakistan, Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale claimed the strike killed “a very large number of Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists, trainers, senior commanders, and groups of jihadis who were being trained for Fidayeen action were eliminated.” Another senior government official told reporters that about 300 militants had been killed.

The Indian government claim was soon followed by a video clip purportedly capturing a portion of that air strike on social media. Fact Check site snopes.com analyzed this video and declared the Indian claim "false".

Reuter reporters visited the target area in Balkot in Pakistan and talked to an eyewitness who said, “No one died. Only some pine trees died, they were cut down. A crow also died.” Here's an excerpt from the Reuter's report:

People in the area said Jaish-e Mohammad did have a presence, running not an active training camp but a madrassa, or religious school, less than a kilometer from where the bombs fell. “It is Taleem ul Quran madrassa. The kids from the village study there. There is no training,” said Nooran Shah, another villager.

Indian Warplane Down:

There is no dispute about the fact that Squadron Leader Hasan Siddiqui of Pakistan Air Force (PAF), flying a Pakistan-made JF-17 fighter, shot down Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman of Indian Air Force (IAF) flying a Russia made MiG 21. Abhinandan was captured by Pakistan and then released to India.

Summary:

All of the Indian claims about "JeM militant casualties" and shooting down of Pakistani F-16 have been debunked by independent fact-checkers and foreign media reporting on it.  Villagers in Balakot told Reuters that "Only some pine trees died, they were cut down. A crow also died.”  Belling Cat's Veli-Pekka Kivimäkithere and Indian analyst Abhijit Mitra have said that the images of the wreckage being offered as proof of downed F-16 are in fact from MiG-21. There is no dispute about the fact that Squadron Leader Hasan Siddiqui of Pakistan Air Force (PAF), flying a Pakistan-made JF-17 fighter, shot down Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman of Indian Air Force (IAF) flying a Russia made MiG 21. Abhinandan was captured by Pakistan and then released to India.

Here's a video clip of Indian aviation expert Abhijit Mitra embarrassing his India Today host:

https://youtu.be/FJ8MmTvRZ8Q

Views: 243

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 2, 2019 at 10:52pm

"Desh Ka Bahut Nuksaan Hua Hai" Says #Modi on Losing to #Pakistan. #India #Balakot #Kashmir https://youtu.be/QIt0EAAr3PU via @YouTube



Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has suffered badly after his military's failures in Balakot and Kashmir. Not only did Indian air strikes fail but India lost aircraft and had one of its pilots captured by Pakistan. 

Comment by Masood Khan on March 3, 2019 at 9:53am

Good Analysis!

India wants to go to war with Pakistan but they are in catch 22 now. Fortunately the circumstances are not moving forward in their favor and India is provoking Pakistan to justify aggression and isolate Us. Danger of war is hanging due to arrogance. There was no weapons of mass destruction; yet Iraq has to suffer from a long war. Similar formula is being devised by India. But Pakistan is not Iraq and India is not USA. I am very optimistic that we are heading to right direction and every hour Indian Camp is being pushed in corner. 

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 3, 2019 at 10:22am

Paper elephant: #Modi's #India spends a fortune on #military and gets poor value for money. At $62billion, it has swept past that of its ex colonial master #UK. #Balakot #Pakistan #Kashmir #PakistanLeadsWithPeace #AbhinandanReturns https://www.economist.com/asia/2018/03/28/india-spends-a-fortune-on... via @TheEconomist



For nearly a decade India has also been the world’s top importer of arms. In terms of active manpower and the number of ships and planes, its armed forces are already among the world’s top five.

Measured by ambition, India may rank higher still. Its military doctrine envisages fighting simultaneous land wars against Pakistan and China while retaining dominance in the Indian Ocean. Having revealed its nuclear hand in 1998 with a series of tests, India has developed its own ground-hugging cruise missiles and is trying to perfect submarine-launched intercontinental ones, too. Since the Hindu nationalist party of the prime minister, Narendra Modi, took power in 2014 it has also adopted a more muscular posture. Last summer it sparred with China atop the Himalayas in the tensest stand-off in decades. It has also responded to cross-border raids by militant groups from Pakistan not with counterinsurgency tactics and diplomatic ire, but with fierce artillery strikes against Pakistani forces.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 3, 2019 at 7:53pm

After #India Loses Dogfight to #Pakistan, Questions Arise About Its #Military. Its loss of a plane last week to a country whose military is about half the size and receives a quarter of the funding is telling. #Kashmir #PakistanStrikesBack https://nyti.ms/2VwWjmz

India’s armed forces are in alarming shape.

It was an inauspicious moment for a military the United States is banking on to help keep an expanding China in check.

An Indian Air Force pilot found himself in a dogfight last week with a warplane from the Pakistani Air Force, and ended up a prisoner behind enemy lines for a brief time.

The pilot made it home in one piece, however bruised and shaken, but the plane, an aging Soviet-era MiG-21, was less lucky.

The aerial clash, the first by the South Asian rivals in nearly five decades, was a rare test for the Indian military — and it left observers a bit dumbfounded. While the challenges faced by the India’s armed forces are no secret, its loss of a plane last week to a country whose military is about half the size and receives a quarter of the funding was still telling.

India’s armed forces are in alarming shape.

If intense warfare broke out tomorrow, India could supply its troops with only 10 days of ammunition, according to government estimates. And 68 percent of the army’s equipment is so old, it is officially considered “vintage.”

“Our troops lack modern equipment, but they have to conduct 21st-century military operations,” said Gaurav Gogoi, a lawmaker and member of the Parliamentary Standing Committee on Defense.

American officials tasked with strengthening the alliance talk about their mission with frustration: a swollen bureaucracy makes arms sales and joint training exercises cumbersome; Indian forces are vastly underfunded; and the country’s navy, army and air force tend to compete rather than work together.

Whatever the problems, the United States is determined to make the country a key ally in the coming years to hedge against China’s growing regional ambition.

Last year, when Defense Secretary Jim Mattis announced that the Pentagon was renaming its Pacific Command — to Indo-Pacific — he emphasized India’s importance in a shifting world order.

Comment by Riaz Haq on March 5, 2019 at 11:54am

After Pulwama, the Indian media proves it is the BJP's propaganda ...
Washington Post-Mar 4, 2019
Suchitra Vijayan is the executive director of the Polis Project. Vasundhara Sirnate Drennan is director of research at the Polis Project.

https://www.washingtonpost.com/

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 3, 2019 at 9:18am

In #India Election, Lies, #Hate Speech Flummox #Facebook. Major #Indian parties run sophisticated #disinformation #socialmedia campaigns with false, manipulated photos and videos, coordinating posts across a network of paid acolytes, volunteers. #Modi #BJP https://nyti.ms/2FGEX0m

On Monday, the company said it had removed hundreds of misleading pages and accounts associated with the B.J.P. and its main rival, the Indian National Congress, many of which were publishing false information. Facebook also removed more than 100 fake pages and accounts controlled by the Pakistani military.

India — where the company has 340 million users, more than in any other country — poses distinct challenges. Posts and videos in more than a dozen languages regularly flummox Facebook’s automated screening software and its human moderators, both of which are built largely around English. Many problematic posts come directly from candidates, political parties and the media. And on WhatsApp, where messages are encrypted, the company has little visibility into what is being shared.

------------
After a suicide bombing on Feb. 14 in the disputed border region of Kashmir, India accused neighboring Pakistan of harboring the terrorists who it said had orchestrated the attack. The two countries quickly traded airstrikes.

Online, there was another battle.

One clip that circulated widely on Facebook and other services purported to show an aerial assault by India on an alleged terrorist camp in Pakistan. It was, in fact, taken from a video game. Photographs of dead bodies wrapped in white, supposedly of Pakistani militants killed in the attack, actually depicted victims of a 2015 heat wave, according to fact checkers. And local news outlets raced to post shreds of “exclusive” information about the hostilities, much of it downright false.

Facebook executives said the deluge was extraordinary. “I’ve never seen anything like this before — the scale of fake content circulating on one story,” tweeted Trushar Barot, a former BBC journalist who leads the social network’s anti-disinformation efforts in India.

----------------------

After Mr. Modi’s victory, Facebook advised him on how to use its service to govern, including getting government agencies and officials online. In 2015, Mark Zuckerberg, Facebook’s chief executive, hosted Mr. Modi for a televised chat at the company’s Silicon Valley headquarters. Facebook held India up as a model for how governments could use the social network.

Facebook has since played down its connection to politicians around the world, including Mr. Modi, amid a rise in political misinformation. Ajit Mohan, a former Fox executive who became the social network’s first India chief in January, said, “We are absolutely not affiliated to any political party in India or anywhere else in the world.”

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 4, 2019 at 9:08pm

#UnitedStates officials say no #Pakistan #F16 shot down by #India. Yet another #Modi lie exposed. #Balakot #Kashmir

https://foreignpolicy.com/2019/04/04/did-india-shoot-down-a-pakista...

India’s claim that one of its fighter pilots shot down a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet in an aerial battle between the two nuclear powers in February appears to be wrong. Two senior U.S. defense officials with direct knowledge of the situation told Foreign Policy that U.S. personnel recently counted Islamabad’s F-16s and found none missing.

The findings directly contradict the account of Indian Air Force officials, who said that Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman managed to shoot down a Pakistani F-16 before his own plane was downed by a Pakistani missile.

---

The news comes just days before the start of India’s general elections, in which Prime Minister Narendra Modi is seeking another term in office. In the weeks leading up to the election, tensions between India and Pakistan escalated to levels not seen in decades after a Pakistan-based militant group killed more than 40 Indian security officers in a Feb. 14 suicide bombing in India-controlled Kashmir. Both sides have been accused of spreading disinformation and fanning nationalistic flames.

Although the news likely won’t sway Indian voters, Vipin Narang, an associate professor of political science at MIT, said the way the events have unfolded may affect India’s efforts to deter Pakistan in the future.

“As details come out, it looks worse and worse for the Indians,” Narang said. “It looks increasingly like India failed to impose significant costs on Pakistan, but lost a plane and a helicopter of its own in the process.”

The dogfight between the two nations occurred on Feb. 27, when India says a group of Pakistani jets entered its airspace in response to the first Indian air raid on Pakistani territory since a 1971 war. India scrambled its own jets and gave chase. During the aerial battle that ensued, Varthaman took a missile hit and ejected safely into Pakistani territory.

He was captured by the Pakistani army and released days later in an effort to de-escalate the crisis.

One of the senior U.S. defense officials with direct knowledge of the count said that Pakistan invited the United States to physically count its F-16 planes after the incident as part of an end-user agreement signed when the foreign military sale was finalized. Generally in such agreements, the United States requires the receiving country to allow U.S. officials to inspect the equipment regularly to ensure it is accounted for and protected.

Some of the aircraft were not immediately available for inspection due to the conflict, so it took U.S. personnel several weeks to account for all of the jets, the official said.

But now the count has been completed, and “all aircraft were present and accounted for,” the official said.

A second senior U.S. defense official with knowledge of the count confirmed that U.S. authorities on the ground found that no Pakistani F-16s were missing.

Evidence suggests that Pakistan’s F-16s were involved in the battle. The remnants of a U.S.-made AIM-120 air-to-air missile was found near the site; out of all the aircraft involved, only the F-16 can shoot such a weapon.

When the incident occurred, India asked the U.S. government to investigate whether Pakistan’s use of the F-16 against India violated the terms of the foreign military sale agreements.

However, the first defense official said the agreement did not involve any terms limiting the use of the F-16s.

“It would be incredibly naive for us to believe that we could sell some type of equipment to Pakistan that they would not intend to use in a fight,” the official said.

The U.S. State Department and the Indian and Pakistani embassies declined to comment.

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 5, 2019 at 7:46am

Tweet from Prof Christopher Clary:

Some people say the US knows it lost an F-16 but can’t admit it for commercial/pride reasons. Let me just say that Pakistan has many enemies in the US bureaucracy and even more on the Hill, and I think if Pakistan lost an F-16 they would gleefully leak it.

https://twitter.com/clary_co/status/1114115919586963457

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 5, 2019 at 9:38am

From Asif Ghafoor ISPR

IAF claim of hitting F-16 by their Mig 21 before having been shot down by PAF gets exposed. All 4 missile seeker heads recovered intact from the wreckage & held. Pakistan and its professional Armed Forces staying humble by not drum beating. We have more truth on this to share.


https://twitter.com/OfficialDGISPR/status/1114192487210524672   

Comment by Riaz Haq on April 26, 2019 at 9:06am

International Civil Aviation Organization (#ICAO) data shows #Pakistani closed #airspace was affecting as many as 350 flights daily after #India #Pakistan air skirmishes over #Kashmir #Balakot. #Pakistan lies in the middle of a vital #aviation corridor. https://graphics.reuters.com/INDIA-KASHMIR-AIRLINES/010091M92G7/ind...

Pakistan continues to restrict its airspace after an air strike in late February by the Indian military in northern Pakistan. The disruption is forcing international airlines to take costly and time-consuming detours to the north and south, adding flight time for passengers and fuel costs for airlines.

Hundreds of commercial and cargo flights are affected each day. Reuters counted 311 such flights between four airports in Europe and four in Southeast Asia.

Pakistan lies in the middle of a vital aviation corridor. In the week before the air space was closed, almost all the flights analysed passed directly over Pakistan, some coming extremely close the Kashmir region - the epicentre of tensions with India - including aircraft operated by Singapore Airlines, British Airways, Lufthansa and Thai Airways, according to flight tracking service FlightRadar24. Routes that run through Pakistan on a north-south axis are not affected.

OPSGROUP, which monitors international flight operations, used International Civil Aviation Organization data to calculate that the closed airspace was affecting as many as 350 flights daily. Most rerouted as far south as Oman’s airspace, the group said.

Flight information regions (FIR) are how airspace is divided up for control. Pakistan has two: Karachi and Lahore. They, and the Kabul FIR, have seen a notable drop in air traffic since the conflict. Muscat, however, has seen an increase.

Flights between Europe and Southeast Asia are still suffering from the disruption. The group of 311 flights that Reuters analysed has taken different routes to avoid Pakistan, according to FlightRadar24.

OPSGROUP calculates that routing south to Oman, passing through the Muscat flight information region, adds about 280 miles (451 kilometres) to a flight from London to Singapore and 410 miles from Paris to Bangkok.

Lengthy delays
Reuters analysed flight time data from FlightRadar24 for several routes from Europe to Southeast Asia. For each individual route, 14 flights prior to Feb. 27, the day air space was closed, were compared to 14 recent flights prior to April 9.

Some flights are consistently delayed. KLM, Lufthansa and Thai Airways flights are taking up to two hours longer than before the conflict

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