According to Indian TV broadcasts, the Pakistani airforce bombed the Panjshir valley, an Afghanistan mountain province home to roughly 170,000 people and the last significant anti-Taliban stronghold. However, the Indian media had not done thorough research and accepted the clip from the video game to be Pak airforce attacking Panjshir with the purpose of aiding the Taliban.
Indian Media Accused Pakistan of Aiding Taliban in Panjshir
The clip got initially shown on Indian news networks such as Republic TV, Times Now Navbharat, Zee Hindustan, and TV9 Bharatvarsh. The initial video was ascribed to a Facebook page named “Hasti TV,” which has since been removed. According to several Indian news outlets, the footage showed a military plane attempting a bombing run on Panjshir.
Republic TV aired what they claimed to be exclusive footage from “Hasti TV,” but it turned out to actually come from the game ArmA 3. Soon after they issued a clarification and withdrew the video. Later Republic issued another press release stating that all channels have been given permission by Bohemia Interactive – makers of Arma games- so long as their coverage does not go beyond gameplay screenshots or short clips lasting no longer than 30 seconds in total duration without accompaniment sound (no music added).
The host of Republic TV can be heard reiterating the assertion that the Pakistani airforce carried out an attack in Panjshir. Boom, India’s “first and foremost fact checking website and project,” identified the claim as false. Boom is a member of the Poynter Institute’s International Fact-Checking Network effort.
Here is the video that was aired by Republic TV:
Here is their clarification post on Facebook:
A neat detail to note in their clarification post is that they say the video MAY not be accurate. A popular media channel that is properly run, does not have enough resources to even properly verify that the video is in fact taken from a video game. The original clip of the video game was posted on Jan 1, 2021, by a YouTube channel named Compared Comparison. The views of the video increased immensely after its clip was aired by some Afghani and Indian media outlets. The video currently has over 25 Million views.
If you want to watch the full Arma 3 original video clip:
Here is what the Bohemia representative had to say on this:
Strangely, we’ve seen this particular game footage be used several times by certain media outlets in support of their real-life news coverage,
It’s easy to understand how the misleading clip got created. Zoomed-up images of the attacking aircraft in Compared Comparison’s YouTube video appear reasonably believable, at least until the film zooms out to reveal the digital anti-air vehicle shooting and subsequently blowing up in a less-than-realistic way.