PM Imran Khan says a 2019 Indian air strike in northwestern Pakistani town was a "false flag" operation by PM Narendra Modi's government to reap electoral gains, citing a Whatsapp leak of an Indian journalist.

Pakistani soldiers patrol in the area where Indian planes launched a pre-dawn air strike inside Jaba, near Balakot, Pakistan, on February 27, 2019.
Pakistani soldiers patrol in the area where Indian planes launched a pre-dawn air strike inside Jaba, near Balakot, Pakistan, on February 27, 2019. (AP)

Prime Minister Imran Khan has called India's air strike in northwestern Pakistani's Balakot area a "false flag" operation, saying the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) used the regional crisis and its ultra-nationalist local media to win May 2019 election.

In a barrage of tweets on Monday, PM Khan said he had pointed out in his address to the UN General Assembly in 2019 how India's "fascist [Narendra] Modi government" used the Balakot crisis for domestic electoral gains.

"Latest revelations from the communication of an Indian journalist, known for his warmongering, reveal the unholy nexus between the Modi government and Indian media," Khan said.

"Indian sponsorship of terrorism in Pakistan, its abuses in IIOJK [Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir] & a 15-year Indian global disinformation campaign against us all stand exposed," Pakistani PM said.

"Now India's own media has revealed the dirty nexus that is pushing our nuclearised region to the brink of a conflict it cannot afford."

WhatsApp expose nailing Indian journalist 

Khan's remarks came after a massive WhatsApp expose suggested the Indian air strike which targeted the town of Balakot in northwestern Khyber Pakhtunkwa province on February 26, 2019, was pre-planned.

New Delhi says the strike was to avenge some 40 Indian troopers, who were killed on February 14 that year in India-administered Kashmir by a suspected suicide bomber.

Pakistan denies any role in the attack and maintains the entire episode was a "false flag" operation aimed to boost BJP's ratings in elections. 

Evidence submitted by police in the Indian city of Mumbai as part of an ongoing investigation into manipulation of television ratings suggests that firebrand and right-wing Indian TV host Arnab Goswami knew of New Delhi's plan to strike the Pakistani town days before the Kashmir attack.

In response to the Balakot raid, Pakistan shot down two Indian aircraft and arrested a pilot, who was later released in a "goodwill gesture."

READ MORE: Indian strike in Pakistan is more about hype than it is about action

The expose comes after WhatsApp chat conversations between Goswami and Partho Dasgupta, the incarcerated head of rating company, Broadcast Audience Research Council (BARC), was made public.

In a Whatsapp transcript on February 23, 2019, Goswami allegedly told Dasgupta that "something big will happen," clarifying that it is "Bigger than a normal strike."

Goswami replied: "It's good for big man in this season. He will sweep polls then."

READ MORE: India says carried out air strike on 'terror camp' inside Pakistan

'National security used to win votes'

PM Khan stressed that his government will continue to expose India's belligerent designs toward Pakistan and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi and his government's "fascism."

"International community must stop India from its reckless, militarist agenda before the Modi government's brinkmanship pushes our region into a conflict it cannot control," the Pakistani premier warned.

Meanwhile, former Indian Foreign Minister Yashwant Sinha has said: "Arnab chats clearly establish that BJP's victory in 2019 elections was contrived and national security was used as an excuse to win votes. Deplorable."

"How low can a party descend to grab power? Can winning elections by hook or crook be a party's supreme goal?" he tweeted.

READ MORE: Mass hysteria as Indian media relentlessly covers imaginary war in Pakistan

Source: TRTWorld and agencies