Indian media has once again been globally humiliated after it was peddled fake news of a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) jet being shot in Panjshir valley, the last holdout in Afghanistan, which was conquered by the Taliban on Monday.
A fake account named after Ahmed Massoud, the anti-Taliban leader, who was spearheading the resistance in Panjshir, tweeted a picture of a downed aircraft on 5 September.
“The Pakistani jet plane that was shot down by the lion cubs,” the tweet had said.
یہ کہہ رہے ہیں کہ یہ پاکستان کا طیارہ پنجشیر کے باغیوں نے گرا دیا ہے🤗 pic.twitter.com/ujqIqCAA8q— امارتِ اسلامی اردو (@EmartIslamiUrdu) September 6, 2021
The picture soon began circulating on social media and was widely shared by Indian Twitterati.
Soon, India Today, a prominent Indian news channel, ran a news report based on a photo shared by a fake account. However, it had to face humiliation when a fact check proved that the 3-year-old image was of a U.S. F-16 fighting falcon crash landing during training in Arizona.
The tweet claimed it was Pakistan’s fighter jet, while a Google reverse image search showed that the picture was from a 2018 article published by the military news website, Military.com. The same picture was also carried in an article about the crash landing by the Iranian Fars News Agency.
The anti-Taliban forces had been led by the former vice president, Amrullah Saleh, and Ahmad Massoud, whose father, Ahmed Shah Massoud, successfully led the resistance against the Taliban in the 1990s and was killed just days before the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the U.S.
It is reported that Amrullah Saleh fled to Tajikistan after severe bombardment by the Taliban on his hideout in Panjshir.
As the Taliban made advances into Panjshir over the weekend, the Indian fake news brigade kept spreading rumors that the Taliban were getting aerial support from the PAF to conquer the valley.
India’s Republic TV and Zee Hindustan shared footage that showed Pakistani drones bombing anti-Taliban fighters in Panjshir.
However, the fact-checking website, Boom, revealed that the viral clip was taken from a video recording of the video game, Arma-3, and is not from the military conflict in Afghanistan.
Another Indian news channel, Times Now, televised a clip that allegedly showed a Pakistani fighter jet hovering over Panjshir, terming it proof of a “full-fledged Pakistani invasion” of Afghanistan.
However, an independent news website, UK Defence Journal, reported that the video in question was actually of an American F-15 jet flying in Wales in the United Kingdom.
Nestled in the gigantic Hindukush mountains, the Panjshir Valley has a single narrow entrance, due to which local fighters had managed to hold off the Soviets there in the 1980s and also the Taliban a decade later under the leadership of Massoud. However, a swift retort from the Taliban forces finally helped take control of the valley on 6 September and forced local militias to descend from the mountains and surrender on the promise of a general amnesty.