Last week, the Indian Air Force carried out successful ‘non-military pre-emptive strikes’ on Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorist camp deep inside Pakistan to dismantle the terror apparatus that had inflicted the suicide attack in Pulwama killing more than 40 brave security personnel of the country.
Following the airstrikes, Pakistan had attempted to attack Indian military establishments before Indian airforce intercepted to thwart their attacks. With its strike package comprising of various aircraft, Indian airforce was successful in pushing back Pakistani jets and during the air fight, one MiG-21 Bison was hit after it had shot down a more lethal Pakistan’s F-16.
However, the Pakistani military establishment, as usual, continued to live in denial about the airstrikes at Balakot and subsequent shooting down of F-16, in which at least one Pakistani airforce pilot was killed. With its propaganda machinery both within the country through its ISPR and globally through a number of ‘pliable’ journalists, it somehow managed to get some short term traction in the media space, where it tried to project that there were no losses for the Pakistani military. Some Indian journalists with questionable integrity also fell for this Pakistani propaganda and went on to question the Indian government and armed forces regarding the authenticity of counter-terror operations.
Similarly, the New York Times, which often comes up with Islamist narratives, has been selective about facts while reporting India’s airstrikes inside Pakistan and subsequent air fights between the two air force. In an article titled, “After India Loses Dogfight to Pakistan, Questions Arise About Its ‘Vintage’ Military”, the writer Maria Abi-Habib has carefully omitted some facts and indulged in pushing a false narrative that projects Indian Armed Forces in a poor light. Interestingly, Congress leader MP Gaurav Gogoi has also played his part in pushing a narrative that portrays India’s Armed forces as ‘vintage’.
In the article, the writer starts with the claiming that downing of the ‘ageing’ MiG-21 Bison by the Pakistani airforce indicated that Indian armed forces are in ‘alarming shape’. However, the writer deliberately reports half-truths in her article, leaving out the fact that a Pakistani aircraft F-16 was also shot down in the action by the very same ageing MiG-21 Bison. She constructs her whole argument on the premise of this one-sided reportage to depict Indian armed forces as ‘vintage’. She has also quoted Congress MP Gaurav Gogoi, who has stated that Indian troops lack modern equipment.
The writer, who seems to have a complicated relationship with facts, has ignored accounts of eyewitnesses who had seen two parachutes ejecting from Pakistan’s F-16 aircraft. As MiG-21 is a single seater aircraft, while F-16 has a two-seater variant and in all probability, three pilots ejecting from two fighter aircraft meant that Pakistan’s F-16 was also shot down. The writer does not account these facts in her reportage but manages to create a false narrative of only MiG-21 were damaged. She also somehow manages to connect the loss of one MiG-21 Bison belonging to the Indian Airforce, which is already scheduled to be phased out, to judge the military capability of Indian Armed Forces.
According to Vishnu Som, Defence Editor of NDTV, the writer has also ignored a detailed post written by a London based lawyer Khalid Umar on the death of a Pak Wing Commander in the conflict. Umar has said that Pakistan Air Force Wing Commander Shahaz-Ud-Din, the F-16 pilot, who was shot down in the air-combat over the Nowshera sector, was lynched by a mob who mistook him for an Indian airman. Umar’s account says that Shahaz-Ud-Din parachuted out of his aircraft safely, but was then attacked by a mob after the F-16 crash-landed possibly in the Laam valley. Nevertheless, the Pakistani military is yet to acknowledge the death of its own soldier.
Maria Abi-Habib has also deliberately ignored that Pakistani Armed Forces flip-flop over its statements regarding the number of Indian pilots that they had captured. Initially, Pakistan military spokesperson had said that two Indian pilots had been captured. Later, when it realised that it had only captured one Indian pilot while the other pilot is one of their own, who was allegedly beaten up brutally by its own people. The New York Times reporter has shown no eagerness to state facts in her reportage rather she has just cherry-picked the facts which suited her bias against the Indian armed forces.
The prejudiced reporting against the Indian Armed Forces by some of the American based media may also come from the embarrassment that they faced after a four-decade-old Soviet-made MiG-21s shot down a relatively modern US-made fourth generation F-16. The writer has herself declared that the updated MiG-21 Bison were inferior to the Pakistani F-16, which were mostly used by other Airforces in the past before gifting it to the Pakistan Air Force.
The western media, like the New York Times, which has a ‘holier-than-thou’ attitude with respect to its reportage, has often displayed its prejudice against India and Hindus in the past. With its incomplete, flawed and heavily biased reports, the New York Times has often tried to discredit the Indian government led by Narendra Modi. Recently, it had caused a huge controversy after it had peddled a fake narrative on ‘violent cow protection’ based on the data of self-proclaimed defenders of human rights, Human Rights Watch.
In the past, too, NYTimes has exploited children’s deaths to malign Yogi Government’s crackdown on illegal slaughterhouses in Uttar Pradesh. In an op-ed about India that was centred around the CBI raids at the residences of Prannoy Roy and Radhika Roy, the founder promoters of NDTV, the NYT also had tried to take the similar path. The editorial was titled ‘India’s Battered Free Press’ which read like a textbook case of how it has been distorting the truth.
NYTimes’ former Delhi bureau chief Ellen Barry had also indulged in white-washing the 2002 Godhra carnage where as many as 59 people were burnt alive in a train. She had also spread lies to insult the victims of Godhra carnage in her report on the Gulbarg Society verdict. NYTimes also encourages troll-like behaviour while reporting on democratically elected public representatives by attempting to trivialise the personal lives of female politicians.