Pakistan messed up early on, making a telling claim on February 27 that it had captured two pilots from the dogfight with India.
Its military propaganda chief, Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor, recanted hours later when the realisation dawned that the second pilot was, in fact, a Pakistani whose F-16 was shot down by Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.
For Maj-Gen Ghafoor’s notorious Inter-Services Public Relations, covering up Pakistani casualties is a routine. But India Today’s Open-Source Investigation has cracked open the ISPR’s worst-kept secrets.
The probe found how Maj-Gen Ghafoor has miserably failed in covering his own tracks.
Remember, his wing has been issuing historical data, boasting about the martyrdom of Pakistani soldiers on the line of duty.
The data is widely circulated on the ISPR’s social media platforms.
India Today’s Open-Source Investigation found a gross mismatch between the Pakistani military’s historical statistics and its own media statements that correspond to the period.
On August 29, 2017, for instance, the ISPR’s historical record is found to have acknowledged the loss of one Pakistani soldier along the LoC.
But the same information is missing from the media statement of the day. It carries no mention of any LoC casualty but a reference to a Pakistani army operation in the Peshawar division.
One soldier died at the LoC on August 26, 2016, according to the ISPR’s historical data.
The Pakistani army issued two statements the same day, but none contained any reference to any losses along the Line of Control, the Open-Source Investigation found.
In yet another instance, the historical record shows a fatal casualty in Siachen on July 29, 2012. But the ISPR released no press statement on that day.
Fast forward to 2017. India Today’s Open-Source Investigation found glaring mismatches between ISPR historical data its press statements from the corresponding days — one set admits the casualties, the other misses them out.
On every occasion, Pakistan has shied away from acknowledging losses on the day they happened.
The “martyrdoms” find mention only in its historical data released years later, the probe discovered.
That’s not all. Videos India Today crowd-sourced also exposed the two faces of Pakistan’s military leadership.
Footage from Sindh accessed by India Today depicts the funeral of Hawaldar Saleem Rajput of the 28 Sindh Regiment. The soldier, who died at the Line of Control on August 7 this year, is given a formal farewell, the video showed. Local leaders were also seen calling in to mourn.
But Hawaldar Saleem Rajput’s death is omitted in the ISPR’s media statement on the day he lost his life.
Likewise, a video from Missa Keswal in Jhelum district shows the military funeral of Bashrat Hussain, another Pakistani soldier who died last month.
But India Today’s Open-Source Investigation found no mention of his death in Ghafoor’s public statements in August.
Sepoy Khalid, Commando Ijaz Ahmad, Sepoy Raheel Iqbal Sepoy Khalid Abdullah, and so forth — the list of slain Pakistani soldiers finding no place in the ISPR’s media records is long.
And that’s how Pakistan has put the losses of its own troops under wraps, the probe confirmed.