A screenshot of a tweet posted by ‘TIMES NOW’ is being shared on social media claiming that a former Pakistani diplomat admitted to 300 casualties in IAF airstrike at Balakot in 2019. In response to the Pulwama terror attack, India conducted a surgical airstrike at Balakot on 26 February 2019. Let’s verify the claim made in the post.
Claim: Former Pakistani Diplomat admits to 300 casualties in IAF airstrike at Balakot.
Fact: Former Pakistani Diplomat Zafar Hilaly did not admit to 300 casualties in 2019 Balakot airstrike. Indian Media houses aired an edited video of Zafar Hilaly’s interview in ‘Hum Tak’ news channel. Hence, the claim made in the post is FALSE.
On searching for the claims made in this post, we found several news articles reporting former Pakistan diplomat Zafar Hilaly admitting to 300 casualties in Balakot airstrike. ‘India TV’ (archived), ‘Dainik Bhasker’ (archived), ‘The Tribune’ (archived) also published articles reporting the same on ‘09 January 2021’. Archived version of the news articles published in ‘Times of India’ and ‘Republic TV’ news websites can be read here and here.
On ‘10 January 2021’, ‘Live Mint’ reported that ‘300 casualties in Balakot airstrike by India, admits Former Pak Diplomat’ story on their website had been withdrawn due to the factual inaccuracies. ‘ANI’ e also published an article about Pakistan diplomat admitting to 300 casualties in Balakot airstrike. Later, ‘ANI’ had withdrawn their article. The archived version of ‘ANI’ article can be seen here.
On searching for the truth about former Pakistani Diplomat admitting to casualties in Balakot airstrike, we found an article published by Republic TV on ‘10 January 2021’. Republic TV shared a video claiming it as the interview video of Zafar Hilaly. The same video was telecast by ‘India Today’ channel.
Zafar Hilaly posted a series of tweets on ‘10 January 2021’, clarifying his statement telecasted in several Indian media channels. They can be seen here, here and here. In his tweets, Zafar Hilaly accused ‘Times of India’ news website for telecasting an edited video of his interview in ‘Hum Tak’ news channel. He shared the original video of his interview in one of his tweets. By observing the video, we get to know that interview of Zafar Hilaly on ‘Hum Tak’ news channel took place on ‘23 December 2020’.
On searching for more sources using these keywords, we found the complete interview footage in the official YouTube channel of ‘Hum News’. At 5.17 of this video, we find similar visuals as telecast in Indian media channels. In the original video, Zafar Hilaly said ‘Kam Se Kam Theen Souv Logon ko Unhe Marne Tha, Itthefaqan Wo Nahi Mare’ (They planned to kill at least 300 men on our side, But they couldn’t). In the edited video, ‘Marne Tha’ (planned to kill) sound is replaced with ‘Maara Tha’(Killed). At 4.40 of the original video, Zafar Hilaly said ‘Indian Army planned to attack and kill 300 people studying in a Madrasa. Fortunately, they were not present there’. Also, the video shared by Indian news channels is the reverse display of Zafar Hilaly interview telecast on ‘Hum News’ media channel.
To sum it up, former Pakistan Diplomat Zafar Hilaly did not admit to 300 casualties in IAF airstrike at Balakot.