A month after Indian air strike, Pakistan takes journalists to Balakot site


NEW DELHI: More than a month after India conducted an air strike on a Jaish-e-Mohammed terrorist facility in Balakot, Pakistan, the site is being guarded by the Frontier Corps, a paramilitary force, and some of the areas there have been covered.

The Pakistan Army on Thursday had taken a group a eight journalists to the site via a special helicopter, sources said. The journalists interacted with over 300 students who are still at a madrassa there and clicked videos of them.

The journalists were at the site from 10 am to 3.30 pm. “The media group interacted with over 300 children at the madrassa and shot some videos of them as well,” said sources.

The area is being guarded by Pakistan’s Frontier Corps. Some areas of the Balakot facility have been covered with tarpaulin and access to them has been denied. Sources said that this indicates Pakistan trying to hide the some of the hits made during the strike.

Earlier, reports claimed that Pakistani security officials prevented journalists from visiting the site of the madrassa and the surrounding buildings, which were targeted by Indian Air Force (IAF) fighter jets on February 26. Pakistan had cited security concerns for denying access to the site to journalists. The Pakistan Army’s press wing had also cancelled visits to the site, claiming bad weather.

The fresh media visit coming over a month after the air strikes is an indication of Pakistan’s way of pushing its narrative that IAF didn’t hit any buildings and there was no loss of life. The Pakistan armed forces had posted pictures of damaged trees on social-media site, Twitter, saying that ‘payload of hastily escaping Indian aircraft fell in open’.

India, on the other hand, has asserted that it hit the selected targets and caused heavy casualties. Defence Minister Nirmala Sitharaman earlier this month had said that not only the trees, even the terrorist training facility was destroyed. IAF Chief Air Chief Marshal BS Dhanoa had also stated, “If we plan to hit the target, we hit the target.” He had added, “If we had dropped bombs in the jungle, then no need for him (Pakistan) to respond.”

The media visit comes in the backdrop of Pakistan denying the presence of terrorist camps after India shared 22 pin locations with it. Pakistan had also said that it could not establish any link between the 54 people it had detained and the Pulwama terrorist attack. India had handed a dossier to Pakistan on Jaish-e-Mohammed’s involvement in the attack, which killed 40 CRPF troops.


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