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Fact-check: False Claims About ex-Pak Diplomat Admitting 300 Killed in Balakot Airstrike

A satellite image of where the Balakot airstrike took place.

A satellite image of where the Balakot airstrike took place.

News agency ANI had reported that Agha Hilaly made the statement during a TV new debate on a Pakistani Urdu channel. However, the information has turned out to be false. The video clip cited by media houses was doctored.

New Delhi: Several reports have claimed that a former diplomat from Pakistan admitted that as many as 300 terrorists had died in the Balakot airstrike conducted by India on February 26, 2019. However, the information has turned out to be false as the video clip cited by media houses was doctored.

News agency ANI had reported that Agha Hilaly made the statement during a TV new debate on a Pakistani Urdu channel.

"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," Agha Hilaly reportedly said.

However, 'Alt News', a non-profit fact checking website, found that in the debate uploaded on YouTube by HUM news as part of a program called "Agenda Pakistan", Hilaly said, "India ne jo kiya, international boundary ko cross karke ek act of war. Jisme kam se kam 300 logo ko unhone marna tha." In English, this translates to, "What you did, India was an act of war. By crossing the international boundary India committed an act of war in which they intended to kill at least 300 people."

Alt News further stated that video clips posted on Twitter, however, has an "abrupt cut around 0:7-0:9 seconds". The word "marna (to kill)" sounds as if Hilaly said "mara (killed)". The 'n' pronunciation has been edited out.

In a pre-dawn strike in February 2019, IAF’s Mirage 2000 fighter jets had crossed the Line of Control (LoC) and carried out strikes in the terror camps in Balakot, Muzaffarabad and Chakoti in a well-planned operation. Pakistan had refused to acknowledge the presence of terrorists who were killed during the airstrike.

In the early hours of 26 February, 2019, the IAF jets bombed the Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) terror camps in Balakot in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa of Pakistan and avenged the Pulwama terrorist attack that claimed the lives of 40 CRPF personnel.

first published:January 10, 2021, 09:40 IST
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