By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) - Pakistan on Sunday urged the world community to hold longtime rival India "accountable" for an airstrike by its air force on a northwestern Pakistani town in February 2019, days after the killings of dozens of Indian soldiers in a brazen attack in disputed Jammu and Kashmir.
The move follows Indian media reports suggesting that the airstrike, which targeted the town of Balakot in Pakistan's northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkwa province to avenge the killings of the Indian soldiers, was pre-planned.
Evidence submitted by police in the Indian city of Mumbai as part of an ongoing investigation into manipulation of television ratings suggests that firebrand Indian TV host Arnab Goswami knew of New Delhi's plan to strike the Pakistani town days before the Kashmir attack.
This is borne out by purported WhatsApp conversations between Goswami and Partho Dasgupta, the incarcerated head of ratings company the Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC).
Over 40 Indian troops were killed in an audacious attack on a military convoy in Pulwama district of Indian-administered Kashmir on Feb. 23, 2019, for which New Delhi blamed Pakistan. Islamabad, however, denied the charge.
On Feb. 26, Indian jets crossed into Pakistan and dropped bombs on the outskirts of Balakot, claiming to have targeted a training camp.
The next day, the Pakistani Air Force shot down two Indian aircraft and arrested a pilot, who was later released as a "goodwill gesture."
Islamabad said it will continue to counter Indian "falsehoods with truth and act firmly and responsibly in the face of India’s provocations."
It was referring to a November 2020 report released by Europe-based independent group EU DisinfoLab which exposed a 15-year-long campaign to “denigrate” Pakistan and Kashmir at international forums, spreading a disinformation campaign that targeted the European Union and UN with over 750 fake local media outlets and more than 10 sham non-governmental organizations.
The fake NGOs were traced back to the New Delhi-based Srivastava Group.
"We hope that the international community will 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," said a statement from Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry.
"We had, at the outset, rejected India’s malicious propaganda against Pakistan and highlighted that the biggest beneficiary of the Pulwama attack was the BJP government, as it secured a landslide victory in the ensuing Lok Sabha elections," it further said, referring to India’s ruling Bharatiya Janata Party.
The transcripts, the statement added, provide further evidence of how this whole enterprise from ‘false flag’ operation to massive electoral success was scripted and fully realized.