With details of the Indian Air Force’s Balakot airstrikes review emerging in media, there were speculations about the ‘video proof’ of the February 26 airstrikes. After two months of intense debate, a media report has revealed why the stunning act was not captured on camera. According to an NDTV report, ‘Crystal Maze’ – the Israeli air-to-surface missiles that would have provided the live feed was not launched during the pre-dawn non-military operation. This very feed would have served as the video proof and would have helped the Indian Air Force to release the irrefutable evidence of the strike of the Jaish-e-Mohammed camps in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunwa province.
"The Crystal Maze were not launched as the missile works on the pilot flying the missile to the target. The weather conditions of undercast clouding precluded this," the NDTV report said while quoting the unnamed source. As the Indian Air Force had no video proof, it had to rely on the satellite images provided by the strategic partners. But the NDTV report says that due to confidentiality clause, the satellite images could not be released to general public.
Lack of any concrete photographic or video proof has given Pakistan a chance to portray its side of story to the international media. Recently, Pakistan military took a group of international media personnel and foreign diplomats on a tour of the seminary and its surrounding areas in Balakot, where India carried out a counter-terror operation on JeM's biggest training camp 43 days ago. Tensions flared up between India and Pakistan after a suicide bomber of Pakistan-based Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) killed 40 CRPF personnel in Kashmir's Pulwama district on February 14.
Amid mounting outrage, the Indian Air Force (IAF) carried out a counter-terror operation, hitting the biggest JeM training camp in Balakot , deep inside Pakistan on February 26. The next day, Pakistan Air Force retaliated and downed a MiG-21 in an aerial combat and captured an IAF pilot, who was handed over to India on March 1.According to BBC Urdu, the group was flown from Islamabad in a helicopter to Jabba in Balakot.
The visitors trekked for about one-and-a-half hour to reach the madrassa on the top of a mountain surrounded by lush green trees. The group, while going up, also saw a ditch on a hillside where India jets dropped its payload, according to Pakistan military.About 150 students, aged 12-13, were present inside the seminary building and were being taught Quran when the group reached inside the madrassa, they said.
The visit by the group lasted for about 20 minutes and the participants were allowed to take pictures and even some of them spoke to the teachers present there. Army spokesman Major General Asif Ghafoor held formal and informal chat with the reporters. "This is an old madrassa and has always been like this," he said, indicating that Indian claim of hitting it was not true.
This was the first formal visit of foreign media and diplomats to the place about which India claimed that its strike killed scores of terrorists. The purpose of organising the trip was apparently to fortify Pakistan's claim that Indian failed to destroy any structure or kill anyone during the ariel attack of February 26 which brought the two nations to the verge of a war, he said.