Pakistan on Sunday said the February 2019 Pulwama attack was a “false flag operation” staged by India’s Bharatiya Janata Party government to malign its neighbour’s image. Pakistan cited the purported WhatsApp chats of Republic TV Editor-in-Chief Arnab Goswami, which suggested that he had prior knowledge about the Balakot airstrikes.
On February 26, 2019, the Indian Air Force carried out a strike targeting a Jaish-e-Mohammad training camp in the Pakistani town of Balakot. The attack was billed as India’s response to an attack on February 14, 2019, in Pulwama in Jammu and Kashmir, in which 40 Central Reserve Police Force personnel were killed after an explosive-laden car driven by a suicide bomber rammed into their bus.
In a purported WhatsApp chat on February 23 – three days before the strike – Goswami had told Broadcast Audience Research Council’s former Chief Executive Officer Partho Dasgupta that it would be “bigger than a normal strike”.
“The recent transcripts revelations in India further vindicate our consistent position that RSS-BJP [Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh-Bharatiya Janata Party] government stages ‘false flag’ operations; maligns Pakistan with terrorism-related allegations; stokes hyper-nationalism in its bid to win elections,” Pakistan’s Foreign Office spokesperson said in a statement.
Referring to the BJP government as a “Hindutva regime”, the spokesperson said that the WhatsApp transcripts reveal the “unholy nexus” between the dispensation and its “cronies” in Indian media. “Such actions by the reckless regime driven by considerations of domestic politics are gravely imperiling regional peace and security,” the statement said.
It stressed that Pakistan will continue to counter India’s falsehoods with truth and act “firmly and responsibly in the face of India’s provocations”, according to Dawn.
The foreign office also called on the international community to take note of the matter and hold India responsible for vitiating the regional environment and endangering peace and security in South Asia.
Desperate move, says Republic Media Network
On Sunday, Republic Media Network rejected the allegations that the Pakistani government made against Goswami. “The statement of the government of Pakistan against India’s leading news network – the Republic Media Network is proof of the deep-conspiracy of anti-India and anti-national forces against Republic Media Network and its Editor-in-Chief Mr. Arnab Goswami,” the news channel said in a statement.
It claimed that Goswami and the Republic Media network had exposed Pakistan and revealed the country’s support and patronage to terrorist groups. “The Republic Media Network had also produced proof of the Balakot strike on 6 March 2019, which had deeply embarrassed the Pakistan state machinery and its intelligence apparatus,” the news channel said.
It added that Republic TV will expose the conspiracy as well as those involved in working against the national interest, and urged the Congress to stop working with the Pakistani government “to spread lies against India’s interests”. The Congress had demanded an inquiry into the WhatsApp conversation.
The transcripts of the purported chats are part of the Mumbai Police’s chargesheet in the Television Rating Points scam case.
Here’s the full text of the statement
Republic Media Network rejects the allegations of the Government of Pakistan against Arnab Goswami.
Arnab Goswami, Editor-in-Chief of the Republic Media Network has over a decade and a half, as India’s leading Television journalist exposed, every sinister design, and evil intention of the Government of Pakistan and the ISI.
Mr. Goswami personally, and the Republic Media network was the first to expose Pakistan, after the Pulwama attack. Mr. Goswami and the Republic Media Network through investigative reports, sting operations, hard-hitting, and factual exposes brought before the entire world the reality of Pakistan’s sponsorship, support, and patronage to terrorist groups. The Republic Media Network had also produced proof of the Balakot strike on 6 March 2019 which had deeply embarrassed the Pakistan state machinery and its intelligence apparatus. The statement of the Government of Pakistan against India’s leading news network – the Republic Media Network is proof of the deep-conspiracy of anti-India and anti-national forces against Republic Media Network and its Editor-in-Chief Mr. Arnab Goswami.
The desperation with which the Government of Pakistan has attacked the Republic Media Network in an open forum today, also lays bare the involvement of anti-India forces in the conspiracy behind the Republic Media Network. As the days pass, we will expose this conspiracy and the involvement of people who are working against national interest. The Republic Media Network thanks millions of its supporters from India and across the world.
We also urge the Congress party to stop working in tandem with the Government of Pakistan, consciously or unconsciously, to spread lies against India’s interests.
Satyamev Jayate. Bharat Mata Ki Jai. Jai Hind!
Corrections and clarifications: The article had initially cited Pakistan as referring to the Balakot airstrike as a ‘false flag operation’. The error has been rectified.