Since the fall of the Pansjhir province to the Taliban last week, the Indian media seems to have launched a disinformation campaign on Pakistan’s alleged military support to the new regime in Afghanistan and main victims of this campaign seem to be the Indian audience.
It appears that a retired Indian army officer got caught in this storm of disinformation after he claimed that a photo, showing Pakistani actors dressed as soldiers, was a picture of Pakistani military men martyred in Afghanistan’s Panjshir valley.
Earlier, Maj Gen GD Bakshi, another former Indian army officer, posted a tweet claiming that the Pakistan Army had “suffered very heavy casualties” in Panjshir. Bakhsi claimed that dozens of Pakistani soldiers were killed and many others were wounded while supporting the Taliban in Panjshir.
He added that a certain “Maj Gen Adil Rehmani has come back to organise discreet funerals in [the] dead of night.”
The Indian media has often picked Bakshi’s tweets even though his account is not verified by Twitter. An article by Indian publication The Print last year referred to him as the “shrillest warmonger in the media.”
Responding to his latest claims about Pakistani soldiers, a Pakistani account shared a picture from the set of the 2017 Pakistani movie Yalghaar to poke fun at the Indian ex-officer, and wrote: “My class fellow from school days Maj Aijaj 2nd from left and Capt Jufar 1st from left embraced martyrdom in Panjshir. They were buried yesterday in Peshawar. ISPR is trying to hide these casualties. They fought bravely and should be honored as such. This is injustice by Pak Army.”
The two uniformed men he was referring to are renowned Pakistani actors Shaan Shahid and Umair Jaswal. Neither is a member of the armed forces.
Unaware of this and apparently without having done any background check, former Indian Major General Harsha Kakar shared a screenshot of this tweet and wrote “the truth on #PanjshirValley and Pak casualties.”
Many Pakistanis were amused by the Indian ex-officer’s tweets. Actor Shaan, who was in the photograph, replied to Bakshi’s original tweet with posters from Yalghaar. “Hello from the other side,” he wrote.
Jaswal was also greatly amused. He responded to Bakshi with a picture of himself in commando gear and wrote: “Hello dear from Pakistan.”
This prompted other Pakistani social media users to join in the discussion; they also shared images of Pakistani actors in uniforms to add to the joke.
Last week, while the Taliban fighters were advancing into Panjshir, Indian media outlets ran unverified claims of Pakistan Air Force planes hovering over Panjshir valley and dropping bombs on resistance fighters in support of the Taliban.
At least two Indian TV channels showed footage claiming Pakistani drones were attacking anti-Taliban fighters in Panjshir. But a fact-check website Boom clarified that the viral clip was taken from a longer video recording of the video game Arma-3.
Some Twitter users also shared a picture of a fighter jet claiming it showed a PAF plane that was shot down by resistance fighters in Panjshir. But fact checkers showed that the picture is actually from 2018 in the United States.