Some Indian media outlets have come under sharp criticism once again for their reporting on recent fighting around the Panjshir valley in Afghanistan. In coverage of the clashes between Taliban and opposition forces in the valley, a number of Indian media outlets have shared inauthentic reports and imagery in an effort to prove that Pakistani air power was deployed to help Taliban forces in their capture of the strategic valley and stronghold for resistance fighters led by Ahmed Massoud.
Republic TV appears to have aired footage that it alleged to be the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) striking positions in the Panjshir fighting, which later turned out to be screen recordings from military tactical shooter video game ARMA 3. For the source of this “footage,” Republic TV cited “Hasti TV.”
Screen recordings from the game were broadcast by Times Now Navbharat and Zee Hindustan too, again purporting to show Pakistani aircraft in action.
Fact-checkers soon pointed out that the footage was not real, but from a game. Eventually, Republic TV issued a clarification, holding “Hasti TV” responsible for disseminating the fake footage.
Other instances of inauthentic reporting were also pointed out. TIMES NOW shared footage of an F-15 aircraft from the UK, claiming that it was Pakistani and providing air support to the Taliban attacking Panjshir. Meanwhile, India Today claimed that a Pakistani aircraft had been shot down over Panjshir, using footage of a U.S. F-16 that crash-landed three years ago during training in Arizona.
Commentators on social media have pointed to a pattern of such coverage by some Indian media outlets, including during the 2019 tensions and conflict between India and Pakistan.
Mohammed Zubair of Alt News tweeted that Republic TV had used videos from ARMA 3 a few months earlier, claiming it to be footage from the Armenia-Azerbaijan conflict in the Nagorno-Karabakh region.