43 days after airstrikes, Pakistan takes media to Balakot
On Wednesday, Pakistan took a bunch of international media personnel and foreign diplomats to a seminary in Balakot, which was attacked by Indian Air Force jets on February 26. Pakistan has repeatedly denied that the pre-dawn strikes were successful and 43 days after the operation, it let people visit the site. Director General (DG) ISPR Asif Ghafoor also accompanied the visitors. Here's what happened.
Context: IAF jets carried out operation and returned safely
After Jaish-e-Mohammed attacked a CRPF convoy on February 14, 12 IAF jets breached Pakistani airspace to attack its biggest camp in Balakot. Ghafoor was the first one to inform about such an attack but maintained that timely intervention of PAF jets stopped India's "aggressive" act. However, IAF Chief BS Dhanoa said the attacks achieved their purpose and all jets returned home without a scratch.
Pakistan offered to take visitors, took "its time"
Rattled after the attack, Pakistan said it was willing to take visitors to the site to unearth "India's theories". It allowed diplomats to visit the spot, though it took weeks of "planning". According to reports, the visitors were flown from Islamabad to Jabba in Balakot. They had to trek for nearly one and a half hour to reach the seminary.
Ghafoor claimed madrassah had always "been like this"
The seminary was surrounded by lush green trees and while trekking the visitors also saw a ditch, where India dropped bombs according to the Pakistani military. The group claimed the seminary housed nearly 150 students, aged between 12-13, who were being taught the Quran. "This is an old madrassah and has always been like," Ghafoor said, rejecting India's claims of successful strikes.
Ghafoor shared video of the trip
A group of international media journalists mostly India based and Ambassadors Defence Attachés of various countries in Pakistan visited impact site of 26 February Indian air violation near Jabba, Balakot. Saw the ground realities anti to Indian claims for themselves. pic.twitter.com/XsONflGGVP— Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor (@OfficialDGISPR) April 10, 2019
The visit was facilitated after weeks, India pointed out
Pakistan planned the visit to fortify its claims that India just hit a patch of trees during the strikes. But India remained adamant on its stand. External Affairs Ministry reportedly questioned the timing. "The fact that media was taken on a conducted tour to the site only after a month and a half after the incident speaks for itself," BBC quoted a ministry official.
Day after airstrikes, PAF jets breached Indian airspace
The Balakot strikes brought the two nuclear neighbors on the verge of a full-blown war. Though India struck terror camp in Balakot, Pakistan responded by sending jets to attack military establishments. On February 27, IAF and PAF jets indulged in aerial combat. One F-16 of PAF was shot down by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman. Unsurprisingly, Pakistan claimed F-16s weren't used for the dogfight.
India displayed proofs to counter Pakistan's flimsy theories
Rubbishing Pakistan's flimflams, India furnished proofs of an F-16 kill. IAF's RGK Kapoor showed radar images to prove F-16 came close to Abhinandan, who shot it down piloting his MiG-21 Bison. Earlier, India also displayed AMRAAM missile. New Delhi even shared the details with F-16s' home country- the US. Despite the proofs, Pakistan has kept up with its denial.