Indian news channels reporting on developments in Panjshir valley- the last province fighting against the Taliban- aired videos claiming “Pakistani forces are helping the Taliban capture the Panjshir valley.”
On 6th September 2021, after the Taliban claimed to have captured Panjshir, some news channels ran visuals of low flying jets and air strikes as part of their reportage on Afghanistan.
“Breaking news coming in,” said a Times Now anchor, with visuals of a low-flying jet on the screen. The anchor claims that the channel had accessed “the latest visuals of yet another tranche of Pakistani fighter jets that can be seen soaring the skies in Panjshir.”
The anchor further claimed that the fighter jets on the screen were “facilitated by Pakistan to aid the Taliban forces as they try to crush the resistance offered by the forces in the valley.”
Times Now also tweeted the video, which had at least ten thousand views, but the tweet was later deleted.
Other media channels, including TV9 Bharatvarsh and Republic TV, also aired videos of a low-flying jet claiming “Pak role confirmed” in the attacks on Panjshir.
In a panel discussion moderated by Nishant Chaturvedi, Senior Executive Editor at TV9 Bharatvarsh, on ‘the role of Pakistan in Taliban’s takeover of Panjshir’, the same visuals were shown repeatedly. The video on Twitter was watched over 71,000 times before being deleted.
The video footage used by various media channels showing a low-flying jet in hilly terrain is neither a recent one nor from Afghanistan. Twitter users pointed out that the video aired by the Times Now is of an American F-15 flying in Wales, UK.
A YouTube search for ‘American F-15 flying in Wales’ led us to a video posted on 9th May 2021 by a channel called Elwyn R with the title ‘F-15 Strike Eagle Low Fly in the Mach Loop!!’
Watching the Times Now’s broadcast and the video on YouTube, frame by frame, we found the landscape in both the videos closely resemble each other.
Our investigation indicated that the same video was shared by Twitter user @Natsecjeff, claiming it to be “exclusive footage showing Pakistani drone attacking rebel targets in Panjshir.”
@Natsecjeff also pointed out a Facebook post by Hasti TV claiming, “…Pakistani military airplanes flying over Panjshir. Until now, the official sources have not approved this video.” This post has since been deleted.
Republic TV had attributed the video they used on their channel to Hasti TV, despite the Hasti TV post saying it was unverified from official sources.
Since the video carried a watermark of the UK-based Hasti TV logo, we reached out to them for clarification.
Hasti TV, which describes itself as the only Afghan channel in the UK covering Afghan/Persian Diasporas issues, confirmed to Newschecker over email that they posted this video and removed it after realising that it was not genuine. The full response can be seen here:
The same video was picked up by multiple Indian channels and aired with the same claim; ”Pakistani drone attacking rebel targets in Panjshir”, as mentioned in the tweet. But @Natsecjeff responded to his initial tweet within two minutes, clarifying that the visuals are from “a video game” and that he had shared it to check how it would amplify the claim without verification.
News channels used a clip from the video game ARMA 3 as visuals depicting Pakistan’s attack. ARMA 3 is described as an “open-world, realism-based, a military tactical shooter video game developed and published by Bohemia Interactive…” on its YouTube page.
Watching the video game and the clip shared on news channels frame by frame simultaneously, we found that the video is indistinguishable.
A few Indian media outlets have shared footage from video games and old clips as of a recent attack in Panjshir by the Taliban with Pakistan’s aid.
Video of F-15 jets in Wales, United Kingdom: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LbsDR7dkIkc
Video of the ArmA 3 video game available on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FV3MhMRn78M
Tweet by the handle @Natsecjeff: https://twitter.com/Natsecjeff/status/1434674271465492480?s=20