Pakistan’s attempt to take a group of international media personnel and foreign diplomats on a tour of Balakot, where India carried out a counter-terror operation on JeM’s biggest training camp, is being criticized widely.
Lawrence Sellin, former Colonel in the US Army, has said that it was a crude attempt by Pakistan to influence the Indian election. “It reminds me of the heavy-handed tactics used in the Soviet Union in the 1930s in terms of propaganda. This visit occurred six weeks after the event – there was a lot of time for Pakistan to sanitize the site,” Sellin told WION.
But the journalists and diplomats didn’t get enough time to make any kind of informed assessment. They were hurried away by the Pakistani army after less than half an hour. pic.twitter.com/qoY8uYdBN6
— Reuters India (@ReutersIndia) April 11, 2019
The group of journalists was flown from Islamabad in a helicopter to Jabba in Balakot on Wednesday. The visitors trekked for about one-and-a-half hour to reach the madrassa on the top of a mountain surrounded by lush green trees. The group was taken to a madrassa where about 150 students were present and were being taughthe t Quran.
“It was also known from the locals that the madrassa which was there was closed up until very recently and these local boys showed up to populate the madrassa, basically it seemed for this event. And the visitors to this site were only allowed not longer than 30 minutes. There was actually absolutely no way for those visitors, those observers to determine anything,” Sellin said.
India has a right to be angry because it looks deliberate, he added.
The visit by the group lasted for about 20 minutes and the participants were allowed to take pictures. Army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor held formal and informal chat with the journalists.
The group, while going up, also saw a ditch on a hillside where India jets dropped its payload.
This was the first formal visit of foreign media and diplomats to the place where scores of terrorists were killed in Indian airstrike on February 26.
Watch what Sellin has to say about journalists’ visit to Balakot:
12 Apr 2019/ Friday Source: wionews.com