Pak takes media, diplomats on visit to Indian strike site | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 12, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:06 AM, April 12, 2019

Pak takes media, diplomats on visit to Indian strike site

Journos saw damage only to trees, one mud hut

Pakistan has escorted a group of foreign journalists and diplomats to the site of an Indian air strike to show that, contrary to Delhi’s claims, no infrastructure was damaged, the military spokesman said.

The visiting group, which Major General Asif Ghafoor said was mostly based in Delhi, was shown observing a crater in Balakot in video published via Twitter late Wednesday, on the eve of India’s massive election.

The group saw the “ground realities” of the strike site, Ghafoor said in a caption accompanying the tweet.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi has campaigned hard on what he claims is the success of the February 26 strike. Indian officials have claimed up to 250 militants were killed.

Pakistan has denied from the start that there was any damage or casualties, with Modi’s counterpart Imran Khan framing it as an election ploy.

With the first phase of polls in India’s massive election opening yesterday, Modi has styled himself as India’s “chowkidar” (“watchman”), and anyone even questioning the action against Pakistan is given short shrift.

But independent reporting by multiple local and international outlets who have visited the site found no evidence of a major terrorist training camp -- or of any infrastructure damage at all.

An AFP reporter who visited just hours after the strike was carried out saw damage only to trees and one mud hut. Local residents have said no one was killed.

The Atlantic Council’s Digital Forensic Research Lab said that open-source satellite imagery indicated “only impacts in the wooded area, with no damage being visible to the surrounding structures.”

The strike was in retaliation to a suicide bombing in Indian-held Kashmir on February 14 that was claimed by a Pakistan-based militant group.

It was followed by Pakistani air strikes which hit open space in Indian territory and ignited a dogfight in the skies over the disputed region of Kashmir, the worst confrontation between the nuclear-armed foes in years.

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