Saturday, February 4, 2023
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Balakot, blackout and IAF: When Pakistanis couldn’t stop the rumours Imran Khan had fueled

Pakistan PM Imran Khan has been waiting for a false flag operation by India, now for over a year. In May, he twice mentioned the possibility of an Indian attack.

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What’s happening over Karachi?’ This was the Twitter buzz in Pakistan Tuesday. As with every question in Pakistan, the first answer has to do with India. Some thought that it was the Indian dushman trying to repeat a Balakot-style ‘misadventure’ from 2019, while others believed that brewing a cup of tea was in order. Let’s not blame the rumour mills. After all, the airstrike in Balakot had also come on a freaky Tuesday.

These are simply ignorant speculators. If at all, the blame should be on the top office.

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War mongering

Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan has been waiting for a false flag operation by India, for over a year now. In May, the PM mentioned the possibility of an Indian attack twice within a span of five days.

Similarly, last December, Khan was sure that an attack was coming and shared the threat. Before that, on Independence Day, he had hinted that a Balakot-style attack was coming Pakistan’s way. Since Balakot strikes and the dilution of Article 370 in Kashmir, the ‘attack’ paranoia has engulfed the government of Imran Khan.

Last year, foreign minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi even predicted the attack’s dates: between 16 and 20 April. He sounded most certain, just not on the year of the supposed attack. Railway minister Sheikh Rasheed went ahead and predicted an India-Pakistan war in October and November of 2019. Glad we all came out of that ‘war’, unscathed.

However, the speculation: will-they-attack-us or will-they-not is now a real thing. Should India worry that war expectations are high, or has Pakistan been successful in giving performance anxiety to its favourite neighbour?

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Rumour clouds over Karachi

So, what happened exactly? As if we ever find out in any India and Pakistan shenanigan. The movement of some fighter jets and an alleged blackout in Karachi made for a curious activity in the skies. This was enough to start the rumour mill on social media that Indian Air Force (IAF) planes were identified near the Line of Control. Some also claimed it was a failed Indian attempt to enter the Pakistan airspace, because the IAF was chased out. But that would be a case of mistaken identity: PAF jets and not IAF. Something remained amiss.

No official statement was made by the Pakistan Air Force over what prompted the unprecedented movement in Karachi skies.

During the 2011 Abbottabad raid on Osama bin Laden’s compound, it was the live tweets from residents that first reported us of the activity over the city’s skies. Live tweets are fast becoming the first draft of history.

Karachi rumours were enough to keep the Twitter ‘borders’ hot for a couple of days. But, what we all have learnt post-Balakot is that nothing can keep borders hot like the cup of tea served to Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.

That Pakistan would retaliate (and how) was a given and there were no two opinions about it. How can we forget the surprise India was given on the fateful 27 February day last year, which the future generations would know as the ‘Surprise Day’.

No one can stop the rumour mongers. Social media army went on to claim that Pakistan had shot down its own F-16 during the blackout in Karachi. The cloud of disinformation turned thick and Dawn had to clarify that the news report being circulated with its name was fake.

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‘Brave’ Pakistanis

Amid all the hullabaloo came a sane observation. Flaunting the bravery of Pakistani awam, the post claimed it was foolish of India to think that it can scare them. When coronavirus couldn’t scare Pakistanis, how could India with its toys like MiGs and Mirages?

But then every country sees its national interest first. There was chatter that since the petrol disappeared from filling stations all over Pakistan, going after IAF wasn’t a good idea, as of now.

It appears that what happened over Karachi will remain over Karachi, after all.

Will Pakistan go into a frenzy with the hashtag #IndiaWantsSurpriseAgain every time two or more jets hover in the sky, even if they are its own? Perhaps such instances serve as means of much-needed distraction from the real problems of Covid-19, disastrous economic situation, locust attack and now, the shortage of fuel.

The author is a freelance journalist from Pakistan. Her Twitter handle is @nailainayat. Views are personal.

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  1. As an educated Pakistani, I am not worried about social media war between Indian and Pakistani patriots. I am worried about the mindset of rational people in India who seem to be fallen under the grip of delusional beliefs perpetuated by low-quality propaganda based cells of their ruling party. Even the reputed Indian media channels and other platforms such as this one has so easily succumbed to internet based propaganda. It should be a worrisome sign for intellectuals in India when India today, Hindustan Times, Times of India, etc. start giving such nonsensical news blindly in their frontline pages. They did not bother to ask their armed forces if such event ever occurred. I believe sensible people in India must be lamenting on what days they are seeing under the leadership of Narendra Modi!

  2. This article by the Paki author is another attempt by ISI to spread fake ISPR propaganda & lies!

    What surprise day of 27th February ? This Paki author is speaking the language of her retired ISPR boss ‘Gaffoora’.

    Why is They Print’ allowing this ISPR garbage?

  3. There is some paranoia is going on in India. Now a reputed media platform like the Print has succumbed to stupid and nonsensical propaganda being launched by media cells of BJP/RSS.

    I live in Karachi and I experienced no breakdown or heard any rumors as mentioned in Indian publications. India is in some kind of serious delusion that has taken the entire nation by storm.

  4. What idiotism is print spreading. I live in Karachi and there was no blackout. Apparently Indian media has gone insane. If there was a blackout, it would have been all over the International news as well. Does this kind of news fascinate and motivate the Indians??? We are all going through the Coronavirus Pandemic and India has spare time on her hands!!!!

  5. Has Print become last refuge of unemployed Pakistani authors based around the world ???

    IAF has clearly stated that they are watching this night air battle preparation of PAF……….may be for an upcoming two front air war along with PLAAF against IAF !!!

  6. When China put forces along the large Indo Sino border the false flag ops have been shelved by the BJP,/RSS

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