Pakistan on Sunday, 17 January, slammed the Modi government for staging "false flag" operations, “maligning it with terrorism-related allegations” and “stoking hyper-nationalism” in its bid to win elections, after extensive purported WhatsApp chats of Republic TV editor-in-chief Arnab Goswami – leaked on social media – made references to the February 2019 Pulwama terror attack and the Balakot airstrikes.
What Has Pakistan Said?
"The recent transcripts revelations in India further vindicate our consistent position that RSS-BJP Govt. stages 'false flag' operations; maligns Pakistan with terrorism-related allegations; stokes hyper-nationalism in its bid to win elections. The transcripts also illustrate the unholy nexus between the 'Hindutva' regime and its cronies in the Indian media. Such actions by the reckless regime driven by considerations of domestic politics are gravely imperiling regional peace and security," the spokesperson of the Pakistan Ministry of Foreign Affairs tweeted on Sunday.
Calling for the international community to take cognisance of the situation, it accused India of "vitiating the regional environment and endangering peace and security in South Asia."
What Did the Chats Say?
The purported WhatsApp chats of Goswami are part of the supplementary charge sheet filed by the Mumbai Police in the fake TRP scam case.
There are around 500 pages of WhatsApp conversations from former Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC) CEO Partho Dasgupta’s phone annexed with the charge sheet, including alleged conversations with Goswami.
On 14 February 2019, a terrorist attack on a CRPF convoy near Pulwama led to the deaths of 40 military personnel. In alleged texts to Dasgupta on the day, Goswami first purportedly mentions that his channel was “20 min ahead on the biggest terrorist attack of the year in Kashmir”.
He then appears to go on to say, with regard to his channel’s coverage: “This attack we have won like crazy”.
The Indian Air Force conducted a retaliatory strike on a reported terrorist camp in Pakistan at Balakot on 26 February 2019.
On 23 February 2019, three days before this happened, Goswami allegedly told Dasgupta that “something big will happen.”
When Dasgupta asked whether he meant something about Dawood, Goswami allegedly replied: “No sir Pakistan. Something major will be done this time.”
Dasgupta replies that this is good, and then goes on to say:
“It’s good for big man in this season”
“He will sweep polls then”
“Strike? Or bigger”
Goswami allegedly responds to this by saying:
"“Bigger than a normal strike. And also on the same time something major on Kashmir. On Pakistan the government is confident of striking in a way that people will be elated. Exact words used.”"
This appears to indicate not only that Goswami had some advance knowledge that the government was going to retaliate in a big way to the Pulwama attack, days before the Balakot airstrike, but that the potential public reaction to this retaliation was part of the information he obtained.
How Has Arnab Goswami Responded?
The Republic Media Network, in a statement on Sunday, rejected the allegations of the Pakistan government.
"The statement of the Government of Pakistan against India's leading news network – the Republic Media Network is proof of the deep-conspiracy of anti-India and anti-national forces against Republic Media Network and its Editor-in-Chief Mr Arnab Goswami. The desperations with which the Government of Pakistan has attacked the Republic Media Network in an open forum today, also lays bare the involvement of anti-India forces in the conspiracy behind the Republic Media Network."
The channel also slammed the Congress, saying it should “stop working in tandem” with the Pakistan government to “spread lies against India’s interests.”
A separate statement was also issued on behalf of Arnab Goswami on Monday.
"“What shocks me is the calibration between the Vadra Congress and anti-Republic media, to assist the Pakistani narrative. Every Indian wanted revenge for the Pulwama terrorist attack, so for some in the Indian media to question why Republic expected the same is shameless opportunism. Only, it hurts national interest, when the anti-Republic become force multipliers for the ISI and Imran Khan.”" - Arnab Goswami’s statement
— Republic (@republic) January 18, 2021
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