ISLAMABAD: Indian journalist Arnab Goswami has once again been caught red-faced, this time on national TV, peddling another anti-Pakistan conspiracy theory that has no basis to begin with, Geo News reported on Sunday.
In an episode on the show "The Debate", aired on September 15, Goswami claimed to have a scoop on his hands. The rabble-rouser claimed that his "sources" in Afghanistan informed him that Pakistan Army officers were staying on the fifth floor of the Serena Hotel in Kabul.
There's just one problem with that: the Serena Hotel in Kabul has only two floors above the ground level. Floors number three, four and five do not exist, save for in Goswami's imagination.
Goswami had invited Abdul Samad Yaqoob, a defence and political analyst and a spokesperson of the PTI, along with others, to speak about the alleged in-fighting between the Afghan Taliban. The otherwise biased and agenda-driven debate took an interesting turn when Yaqoob called out Goswami, questioning the veracity of his "sources" in Afghanistan who had claimed the Taliban would never vanquish their enemies in Panjshir and the group would split into rival factions.
Vexed, Goswami told Yaqoob "not to worry about my sources" and proceeded to give everyone a lot to worry about, when it comes to his "sources". "My sources said three things, all of which are right. My sources said that the people of Panjshir will fight and they are still fighting," he said. "...And the Taliban are still fighting there."
"Secondly, my sources said that the Pakistani forces will retreat and all your officers will leave, slowly start pulling out. That is exactly what happened. Okay, you go and check today, you check today, okay, on the fifth floor of the Serena Hotel. I'm telling you, please check, fifth floor of the Serena Hotel in Kabul. How many Pakistani Army officers are there?
"I am giving you. You want more details? I'll tell you which room, or is this enough? Fifth floor of the Serena Hotel, Kabul, how many Pakistani officers are there. Okay? I can also tell you what they ordered for dinner, so don't question my intelligence sources."
Then he proceeded to tell Yaqoob that Republic TV has "got all its aerial surveillance on you people." The next day, September 16, Yaqoob again showed up on ‘The Debate’ and told Goswami his "sources" probably didn't exist since the Serena Kabul has only two floors.
The Indian anchor had no logical answer to the counter. In his usual manner, he resorted to berate his Pakistani guest and sought to draw attention away from his faux pas. In a bid to uncover the truth, Geo.tv called the Serena Hotel to independently verify whether the hotel indeed has five floors.
A receptionist picked up the phone, who was told that he was speaking to Geo TV for a news story on the Serena Hotel in Kabul. We asked him how many floors the hotel has.
"The hotel has only two floors and four blocks," said the hotel employee, refusing to give his name. "On the ground floor, we have offices and the lobby. Above the ground floor are only two floors, where there are only rooms for guests," he asked.
When asked again whether the hotel has five floors, the receptionist corroborated Yaqoob's version. "No, no. No five floors. We have only four blocks and two floors," he reiterated.
That was all the verification we needed, hundreds of miles away from Kabul, something the producer of ‘The Debate’ ought to have done before the show's anchor conjured up a cock-and-bull story to play with the Indian masses' emotions.
Goswami's blunder is the latest in a string of embarrassing attempts by leading Indian TV channels to somehow blame Pakistan for the Taliban's rout of the Afghan government.
In early September, as the battle of Panjshir raged on in Afghanistan, leading Indian TV channels were left red-faced when they aired ‘exclusive footage’ of the Pakistan Air Force dropping bombs on anti-Taliban forces in Panjshir. Readers around the world had a hearty laugh when it surfaced that the footage was not exclusive at all as it was extracted from the video game, Arma 3.
Hasti TV labelled the Arma 3 game footage as “exclusive” before Republic TV (as expected) and TV9 aired the same clip. In the video, shots are seen being targeted towards an airborne plane as it navigates being struck.
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