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Foreign policy journalist spreads Pakistani propaganda against Group Captain Abhinandan using debunked claims

Two days after Foreign Policy published its propaganda news story, the United States defence department had dismissed having any knowledge of such a counting exercise of F-16 fighter jets.

On Monday (November 22), Group Captain (former Wing Commander) of the Indian Air Force (IAF) Ahinandan Varthaman was felicitated with the Vir Chakra award by the President of India, Ram Nath Kovind. He has been accorded the wartime military bravery award for shooting down a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet during aerial combat on February 27, 2019, after the Pulwama terror attack.

On 26th February 2019, India retaliated with an airstrike at terror camps in Balakot. A day later, Pakistan sent its jets, one which Wing Commander Varthaman shot down. In the process, he flew his MiG 21 over to Pakistan-Occupied-Kashmir. He was eventually captured by the Pakistani forces and held in captivity until his safe return to India.

Anti-India propaganda by Michael Kugelman and Foreign Policy

A day after IAF Group Captain Abhinandan Varthaman was awarded the Vir Chakra award, ‘journalist’ Michael Kugelman took to Twitter to cast aspersions about India’s success in shooting down a Pakistani F-16 jet. In a tweet on Tuesday (November 23), Kungelman alleged, “To recapitulate: Today an Indian fighter pilot received a prestigious military award for shooting down a Pakistani F-16 jet that US officials would later claim was not actually shot down.”

Screengrab of the tweet by Michael Kugelman

Interestingly, he is the writer of the weekly ‘South Asia Brief’ of Foreign Policy. The American news publication had been at the forefront of a disinformation campaign following the aerial skirmish between India and Pakistan in February 2019. In a bid to discredit India’s stance that a Pakistani F-16 jet was shot down, Foreign Policy published a source-based, exclusive news story titled, “Did India Shoot Down a Pakistani Jet? U.S. Count Says No.”

The contentious article, published on April 9, 2019, alleged, “India’s claim that one of its fighter pilots shot down a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet in an aerial battle between the two nuclear powers in February appears to be wrong. Two senior U.S. defense officials with direct knowledge of the situation told Foreign Policy that U.S. personnel recently counted Islamabad’s F-16s and found none missing.”

Foreign Policy accused the Indian government of misleading the international community. “But the count, conducted by U.S. authorities on the ground in Pakistan, sheds doubt on New Delhi’s version of events, suggesting that Indian authorities may have misled the international community about what happened that day,” the publication cast aspersions on the authenticity of India’s claims.

Screengrab of the contentious article by Foreign Policy

Pentagon debunked fake claims of Foreign Policy

Two days after Foreign Policy published its propaganda news story, the United States defence department dismissed having any knowledge of such a counting exercise of F-16 fighter jets. While speaking to Hindustan Times, a US defence department spokesman said, ” (We) weren’t aware of any investigation like that.”

Screengrab of the news report by the Hindustan Times

The US Defence Department also distanced itself from the claims made by Foreign Policy. It said, “As a matter of policy, the Department does not publicly comment on details of government-to-government agreements on end-use monitoring of US-origin defence articles…It is important to note that since January 2018, the United States government has suspended security assistance to Pakistan.”

Pakistanis target India using the fake news peddled by Michael Kungelman

Despite the misleading assertions of ‘Foreign policy’ journalist Michael Kungelman, Pakistanis were quick to exploit the opportunity to further their agenda. One Ejaz Ahmad claimed, “What a great criteria set by IAF for promotion…the one who eat a higher number of slaps from Pakistan will be promoted to high rank.”

Screengrab of the tweet

One Kasim had tweeted, “This is top class Bollywood comedy. Indian plane shot by gallant Pakistani pilot and Abhinandan receives the Veer Chakra.”

Screengrab of the tweet

“Only in India, you can be rewarded for failing,” alleged one Pakistani named Mujeeb Kazi.

Screengrab of the tweet

Another Pakistani claimed that it was important for India to reward Abhinandan Varthaman to project itself as a regional power. “The myth was later shattered to bits by China in Ladakh,” he asserted.

Screengrab of the tweet

It must be mentioned that Pakistan Army was forced to release Abhinandan Varthaman due to pressure exerted by the Indian side along with international intervention into the matter. On 28th February 2019, Pakistan PM Imran Khan announced that the country would release Wing Commander Varthaman as a ‘peace gesture’ and on March 1, 2019, he returned to India through the Wagah Border in Atari.

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Dibakar Dutta
Dibakar Duttahttps://dibakardutta.in/
Centre-Right. Political analyst. Assistant Editor @Opindia. Reach me at [email protected]

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