DEBUNKING THE ISPR’s ANTITHESIS OF A PRECISION STRIKE AT BALAKOT
HOW THE PAK ARMY’s DG ISPR TRIED TO MISLEAD EVERYONE INTO BELIEVING THAT THE IAF STRIKES HIT ‘NOTHING’— THIS OSINT ANALYSIS UNMASKS THE DUBIOUSNESS AND CHARADE OF THE FIRST VISIT BY INDEPENDENT MEDIA TO THE JeM CAMP AT BALAKOT SINCE THE DAY THE INDIAN AIR FORCE STRUCK THE TERROR CAMP WITH SPICE 2000 PRECISION BOMBS ON 26 FEBRUARY 2019
43 days after the Indian Air Force’s strike at Balakot, the Pak establishment has finally opened the gates of the Jaish-e-Mohammad terror camp at Balakot to international media — innocuously masking the huge internal damage caused to the various buildings targeted with a quick rebuild job, and the trademark subterfuge of the spin doctors at the ISPR — led from the front by the wily Major General Asif Ghafoor himself, who unfortunately now carries the ignominy of having been caught lying on umpteen occasions in the last few days. Living up to his reputation, Major General Ghafoor took the visitors everywhere — except the targets that India hit; masking his visit well with the famed ISPR doctrine of ‘delay, confuse and deny’.
About a Black Hole
Humanity got its first glimpse this Wednesday, the 10th of April of the cosmic place of no return — A black hole, located far away in the Messier 87 galaxy, which is 55 million light-years away in the Virgo galaxy cluster. And it’s as hot, as violent and as beautiful as science fiction imagined it to be.
Much closer to us at Jabba top, Balakot in Pakistan; Major General Asif Ghafoor, the Director-General of Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) and chief spokesperson of Pakistan Armed Forces, gave the world a glimpse of another black hole — which 43 days after the Indian Air Forces’s Mirage 2000 strike — has awe-aspiringly swallowed all signs of the internal mayhem and destruction caused by the 1000 kg Spice 2000 bunker busting munition. Since then, a hardcore terror training camp has miraculously transformed itself into a Pak Army supported surreal visage of peace and harmony, where young children and students gain the Taleem ul Quran.
Reputedly the properties of a black hole are mass, charge, and rotation and all other information inside the event horizon is lost. Maj Gen Ghafoor had utilised similar attributes to unleash the ISPR’s agenda much before this visit to the JeM camp by media and international observers — mass: his 20–30,000 fake ISPR handles on social media created a huge repository of fake news, narration and related content within a short time after the IAF strikes on 26 February; charge: the content propagated a blitzkrieg of the false narration, which effectively vitiated ability of neutral observers to absorb the actual Indian perspective, effectively charging up the atmosphere with a rhetoric of falsehood, deception and a spiteful debate; rotation: having achieved a measure of disinformation, the ISPR gave a spin to the event by getting specialist geospatial opinion on the subject — which was clearly aimed to demonstrate to the world that the IAF strikes hit ‘nothing’ — the event horizon being the visit by independent media and observers to the JeM camp — aimed at fortifying Pakistan’s firm stance and demolishing the Indian Air Force’s claim of a successful precision strike on 26 February 2019.
Far from being the Pak antithesis of a successful IAF raid, the visit reveals a massive coverup by the Pak Army to the trained eye, the video evidence of which has been provided by none other than the head of ISPR himself through his official twitter handle. A thousand lies by the ISPR will still not be able cover the truth — especially since there is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.
Revisiting the strike at Jabba Top, Balakot
The IAF Mirage-2000s hit the JeM camp at Jabba top at 0330H on 26 February 2019 with the Spice 2000 bunker busting bombs. These deep penetration bombs struck their Designated Mean Points of Impact (DMPI) as planned and destroyed the innards of their targeted building with low yield explosives, causing significant internal damage and killing all with an over pressure shock wave. The detailed analysis of this strike can be read here.
The IAF has confirmed that it has immediate post strike synthetic aperture radar (SAR) imagery, showing clear hits on the DMPIs — thus its an open and shut case for India.
Since the penetrator version of the bomb doesn’t usually collapse the building (refer the above image), the Pak Army was immediately able to replace the roofs showing the entry holes of the strike munition. Hence, nothing of significance showed up in the daytime SSPO runs by ESA and private electro optical satellites constellations — info from which was used by the independent experts to validate their claims, some claiming it was a near miss for India. These have been addressed with appropriate counter views.
However, the Pakistan Army reacted well in covering up the evidence of entry of bombs on the target within the first six hours after the event. This aspect was crucial towards giving the required ‘misdirection’ to the story by the ISPR in the days to come.
Visit by media and military observers on 10 April 2019
Forty-three days after the Indian Air Force struck Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror training camps in Pakistan’s Balakot, the Pakistani government took representatives of some Islamabad-based international media houses and foreign diplomats to the area.
The BBC Hindi correspondent mentioned after boarding a helicopter at Islamabad, said they landed at a place near Mansehra. They passed through some difficult mountainous terrain for the next one-and-a-half hours.*
As soon as they arrived at the camp, the Pak Army directed them not to “speak too long” to local residents.* Obvious question, if nothing happened there — why was the Pak Army putting restrictions on the independent observers to interact with the locals.
The visit started with a clear cut agenda — The information blackout was to persist under the farce of a so called independent verification. The ISPR has no plans of letting things go out of control. It has already burnt its fingers in the past when in the first week of March after the strikes, Francesca Marino, an Italian journalist confirmed through her sources that the death toll in the IAF strike was between 40 and 50, which included ISI personnel. She also stated that 35 to 40 people had been injured in the strike. This has been reinforced by the statement of Maulana Ammar, the younger brother of the JEM boss Masood Azhar, that the madrassa complex at Jabba top has indeed been hit by Indian bombs.
Indian intelligence had estimated more than 250 -300 individuals active inside the camp before the strike. Details of actual number of casualties is not clear as of now.
Ok, back to the BBC reporters account of the visit to Jabba top— *When the authorities were asked about the delay in arranging the tour, they cited “the unstable situation made it difficult to take people there”. The officials said they believed “the time to provide a tour to the media was appropriate now”.*
So why now after 43 days?
Pakistan was under a lot of global scrutiny post the IAF’s strikes because of the info blackout it had imposed around the Jabba top JeM camp. It was waiting for the right opportunity to reveal the innards of the camps to the outside world on its terms.
43 days were needed for the massive coverup operation towards— disposal the bodies and the evidence, rectifying the massive internal damage in the targeted building, getting the locals on board and plan the next move. Interestingly, a quality work force was most probably pushed in at night to get the infrastructure sorted out after the massive internal damage in the targeted building.
43 days is a good time to build an alternate global narrative and push in an agenda which suits ISPR. Basically, 43 days is a long time to hide an inconvenient truth. This is classic ISPR — Delay, Confuse, Deny!!!
Incidentally this was the first formal visit to the area by media — and the trip intended to fortify Pakistan’s firm stance that India had failed.
Anyway, continuing with the BBC reporter’s account, he said *the place (the camp) was isolated and away from human habitation.* Something to ponder over here — Does the Pakistani state open its Madrassas for minors in isolated places, far from worthy habitations? Remember, it took the media team more than 90 minutes to reach the place by foot and a good hour in their vehicles before that.
*On their way to the madrassa, which was claimed to have been destroyed by India, the media team was shown three different places. They were told that IAF dropped the payload there, and the correspondent says only a few craters and uprooted trees could be noticed.* The explanation of this issue has been dealt in detail here.
The long and short of it is that — IAF used the penetrator version of the Spice 2000 on this raid. The shown craters were classic tell-tale signs of high yield explosive in the order of 400–500 kg, as usually found on 1000 kg HE bombs — and NOT of a penetrator bomb, which would have dug in 3–4 meters deep in the earth, creating a huge mudpile around it with its high momentum and low yield explosion. The image below from a Russian bunker buster in Syria highlights the same.
So if the IAF didn’t do it, who did it?
The Pak Army’s lie on the Balakot raid stands exposed! Having carried out controlled explosions within the first few hours of the strike, the Pak Army changed the narrative to show that the IAF missed its objectives on Jabba top, little knowing that the IAF had used penetrator bombs instead of conventional explosives.
Post entry into the complex, *The team was then taken to the hill top where the madrassa is located. The BBC scribe said that “looking at the structure, it did not look like newly-built, or they suffered any damage in the attack”.* Yes the BBC reporter was correct, because the large structure was never targeted!
The entire building was still intact, and some of its parts looked quite old, and in the adjacent mosque hall, 150–200 children were studying.* Yes, this statement is correct, as also seen in the DG ISPR’s video. The big structure and the Madrassa were not targeted and hence are of their vintage construction.
What is noticeable is that all the JeM propoganda material in the hall as well as other places in the camp from before has been viped clean.
There is certainly more to this than what meets the eye, especially bought out by the NTRO’s detection of over 300 mobiles active in the camp before the strikes, which cannot be these innocent children and their care takers.
A whiteboard was also encountered by this media team, which displayed the message that the Madrassa would be closed from 27 to 14 March.
It is necessary to go through the following photographs of the JeM camp, which have been taken from an Indian Intelligence dossier — giving us the real evidence of activities happening at Balakot before the IAF’s strike.
In a statement on Pakistan news channels Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor said,“Visitors freely interacted with students, children and teachers and saw for themselves that the madrassa stood on ground untouched with only innocent local children receiving education.
I have a healthy respect for the professionalism of the Pak Armed Forces, but the DG ISPR takes the threshold of deceit and crookedness to a new low! Only the ISPR could have used innocent minors to deflect the the real purpose of the camp through a well crafted campaign of subterfuge and lies built around a fictitious account of welfare and peace in the region.
When Major General Asif Ghafoor, the Director General of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the armed forces’ media wing, was asked about journalists spotting the name of Maulana Yusuf Azhar — the brother-in-law of JeM chief Maulana Masood Azhar — on the madrassa board, he did not give a direct answer. He said they were looking into the funding of the madrassa, and focusing on the courses provided there.* Major General Asif Ghafoor did not give a direct answer, because he did not have a direct answer. How could a serving Major General of the Pakistan Army justify — that the man who helped fund this very Madrassa — was a major kingpin in one of the deadliest terrorist organisations of the world, which recently had claimed responsibility for the suicide attack on Indian CRPF personnel at Pulwama, J&K on 14 February, killing 40 of them in cold blood.
Exposing the ISPR’s lie on the Media team visit
Before we expose how the DG ISR twisted facts during his visit to the JeM camp, its important to understand the geographical layout of the camp, as well as the building which was ‘actually’ targeted by the IAF.
The JeM camp has the above mentioned buildings — where the Madrassa complex with three clearly shown buildings, including the largest of them, is located next to the mosque. This was NOT a target.
The IAF has confirmed to the author that the main target of the IAF’s raid was the Trainee Accommodation (Mujahid hostel) located at Latitude North 34 deg, 27 min, 53 sec, and Longitude East, 73 deg, 19 min, 04 sec; at the north edge of the camp. 3 Spice 2000 bombs landed precisely within 3 m CEP at 0330H on 26 February on the roof of this building.
The DG ISPR, Major General Asif Ghafoor has blatantly fooled the world and the independent media group — by conducting their visit to the JeM camp under a bundle of, pardon me for using the word a thousandth time — lies!!!
- The DG ISPR conducted the visit of the independent observers to the JeM camp and — DID NOT show them the targeted building, which in spite of a speedy rebuild if there was one, would have left innocuous signs of a major trauma like a bomb hit.
- To reinforce Pakistan’s version of the narrative — that the IAF strikes have failed, the DG ISPR took the team only to the Madrassa buildings as is evident from the video posted on twitter. These had not been targeted by the IAF, hence would be in their original state — which Major General Asif Ghafoor pivoted around to prove to the world — that they had not been hit by the IAF. Only the ISPR can lie with such a panache right under the noses of independent observers from various other nations, intimidating and demeaning the intelligence and dignity of most of them.
- It is evident that No member of the team was allowed to conduct any manner of meaningful independent verification by speaking to the locals or roam around freely in the camp — especially near the targeted building.
- The Pak Army showed the craters of the IAF’s missed bombs, which are not in sync with the penetrator bombs used by the IAF to target Jabba top on 26 February. Obviously, these were controlled explosions carried out by Pak Army to mislead the world — Another lie exposed.
- The DG ISPR clouded the visit by displaying minor children as part of his plot in an attempt to spin a new narrative regarding their studies and care in this remote region. About 150 students, aged 12–13, were present inside the seminary building and were being taught Quran, when the group reached inside the madrassa.
- This was the first formal visit to the area by foreign media — The aim of the trip was to fortify Pakistan’s firm stance that India had failed! However no meaningful member from the Indian media was invited to be part of this entourage, diluting the very purpose of the visit. As someone who tracks the Major General’s activities well, tweeted -
The ISPR’s failed Antithesis of a successful strike
Indian Air Force carried out precision strikes on the JeM camp at Balakot. Post that, ISPR has tried to hard sell a bunch of lies indicating that the IAF’s offensive action has failed.
This antithesis involves a covert cover up of the events at Jabba top through a well executed plan. One question will haunt the Pakistanis for a good while — Why did the ISPR wait for 43 days?
43 days post the strikes — the DG ISPR personally led an expedition with so called independent media and foreign observers to the Jabba top and — intentionally mislead them by asking them to examine buildings — which had NOT been targeted by the IAF.
Interestingly like many occasions in the past, Major General Asif Ghafoor’s lies and deception during this media visit — was exposed by his very own narrative and the video feed uploaded on twitter — which showed enough evidence on his intentions. This was corroborated by other members of the independent military teams as part of the group.
Its high time that the smart alecks at ISPR need to take heed of the fact that — It isn’t the original event that gets people in the most trouble — it’s the attempted cover-up. And the DG ISPR has given far more — than what he has gained from the affair since the Balakot strikes, thanks to his exposed lies and rampant flip flops. Hopefully, the Chief of the Pak Army will take the matter in his hand sooner than later, toning down the unethical ride of ISPR — which is fast becoming the infamous ambassador of myriad lies and blatant deception, hell bent on creating widespread misunderstandings between two nuclear armed powers on the brink of an all out war.
As far as India is concerned, Thank God for our form of government — The media won’t let there be any cover-up.
It's evident though— that there will be no Event Horizon on the Balakot affair any time soon.
ISPR is nowhere close to its Veni, Vidi, Vici moment on this matter!
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***The author is an former fighter pilot with extensive experience on the Mirage 2000 and MiG 21 aircraft of the IAF. He has seen combat in the 1999 Indo Pak Kargil conflict. He writes on military subjects and his article on the Air War in Syria, won the best military aviation submission at the 2017 Paris Airshow.