Pakistan is trying to change the narrative about India’s surgical strikes on terror launchpads along the LoC on early Thursday morning. In a trademark denialist mode, Pakistani military officials took busloads of Pakistani and foreign journalists to two forward positions on their side of the LoC to show them that there were “no surgical strikes” conducted by the Indian Army on terrorist launchpads and it was only cross border firing.
Lt Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa, the director general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), escorted journalists from international news outlets to prove wrong the Indian Army’s claim. According to a report in the Express Tribune, the journalists were taken to Boxor Formation and Hot Springs Formation along the LoC. It said: “The purpose of the embedded tour was to allow journalists to independently investigate the Indian claim. If the Indian military has really carried out a cross-border strike, then it should also open up their side of the LoC to the media.”
Prominent media outlets represented included CNN, BBC, VOA, Reuters, AP, AFP, News Week and BBC Urdu Service.
The BBC report said: “As we were getting ready to be taken to the second location, one of the senior officers accompanying us said that had there been a “surgical strike” – as India claims – there would have been many more dead bodies and a lot more damage. The area seemed intact, but if there were more dead bodies we would have no way of knowing. We only saw what we were shown.”
The LoC, which is the de facto border between India and Pakistan in Kashmir, is the most militarised border front in the world. It is also unusual for the military to take journalists to forward positions. Journalists are rarely allowed to visit these areas and if they are then it is only with military escort and supervision.
The Pakistani ISPR took the journalists to locations where they claimed two Pakistani troops were killed and also contended that there are no signs of destruction visible anywhere near those locations. Villagers, who live nearby, said that the Indian troops in the visible border outpost never lost their posts during the fated night. This is also being peddled as an argument by Pakistan.
By common logic, special ops teams that carried out covert surgical strikes on terror launchpads would not be mobilised from the border outposts. Furthermore, the fact that villagers were not able to catch the teams is also a sign of the effectively carried out operations which by its very covert nature needs to be swift and secretive. The villagers agree to hearing lots of crossfire and army showed journalists that normal life continues. However, no media outlet seemed to question India’s claims and simply awaited India’s response on Pakistan’s actions.
The surgical strike was carried out as a counter infiltration operation along the LoC. According to reports, Indian Army killed at least 38 terrorists during the operation.