Pak given access to Balakot IAF strike `site’ to foreign journalists, diplomats

Finally, Pakistan has taken a team of Islamabad-based foreign journalists and diplomats to the `site’ near Balakot, where India claims IAF resorted to airstrike to demolish Jaish-e-Mohammed (JeM) terror training camps. However, they were directed not to “speak too long” to local residents.

They had visited the “air strike site” in Pakistan’s Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province, bombed by the IAF in retaliation for the February 14 Pulwama terror attack in which at least 40 CRPF troopers were killed.

India claimed to have destroyed a camp belonging to the JeM in the air strike, inflicting “a large number of casualties”, a claim that was refuted by Pakistan that said besides some trees which were felled, and a person who sustained injuries, no one was killed.

According to the BBC Hindi correspondent, who was part of the team, they landed at a place near Mansehra. Following that, they passed through some difficult, mountainous terrain for the next one-and-a-half hours. The group, while going up, also saw a ditch on a hillside where India jets dropped its payload, according to Pakistan military.

On their way to the madrassa, which was claimed to have been destroyed by India, the media team was shown three different places. They were told that IAF dropped the payload there, and the correspondent says only a few craters and uprooted trees could be noticed. The place was isolated and away from human habitation.

The team was then taken to the hill top where the madrassa is located. The BBC scribe said that “looking at the structure, it did not look like newly-built, or they suffered any damage in the attack”.  The entire building was still intact, and some of its parts looked quite old, and in the adjacent mosque hall, 150-200 children were studying.

However, when the authorities were asked about the delay in arranging the tour, they cited “the unstable situation made it difficult to take people there”. A board in the madrassa read it was closed from February 27- March 14. According to a teacher, the step was taken as an “emergency measure”.

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