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Tuesday 28 January 2020

Pakistan blocks media from visiting Balakot madrassa in fear of revelation of truth

While Pakistan had promised that media would be allowed to check its claim of no damage by IAF airstrikes, officials now offer excuses to deny journalists entry to what is believed to be a terror camp India targeted on 26 February

Jaba, Pakistan: In order to teach a lesson to the culprits of the Pulwama terrorist attack, the Indian Air Force entered Pakistan and hit Jaish-e-Mohammed’s madrassa (seminary) on 26 February, but the western neighbour seems to keep the world misled. Pakistani security officials are blocking the media from visiting the hill where the seminary is located, which the IAF hit with missiles.

A team of news agency Reuters was stopped on their way to the spot on Thursday. Pakistani officials prevented the media team from going near the madrassa and surrounding buildings built on the hill of Balakot in north-east Pakistan. Last week, the IAF’s fighter planes had targeted this area.

By showing select pictures, Pakistan has been telling the world so far that the airstrikes did not yield the result India had intended. This is the third time in the last nine days that reporters arrived in the area but were not allowed to reach the spot.

The building situated here is the madrassa operated by terrorist organisation Jaish-e-Mohammed. Shortly after the strikes, Indian Foreign Secretary Vijay Gokhale had said that a large number of Jaish-e-Mohammad terrorists, trainers, senior commanders were killed in the military action taken on the training camp. Since then, the Pakistani security officers have guarded the way to the place.

Flip-flop on media access to Balakot

Officials who are blocking the journalists cite safety concerns. Shortly after the airstrikes, the Pakistani Army had claimed they would take the media to the spot.

Since the operation of India on 26 February, the Pakistan government is saying that there was no harm caused to any building and no one has died due to the IAF strike. But the press wing of the Army in Islamabad cancelled the visit of scribes to the site citing reasons of bad weather and security rules. A Pakistani official said that due to security reasons it would not be possible to go to that place for the next few days.

At the moment, a team of journalists is waiting at a place below the hill, about 100 m from the madrassa. Some parts of the buildings the journalists could see from the foot of the hill have pine trees all around. It’s difficult to assess the situation from this distance and elevation.

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