File this under crazy, but several major media outlets in India have been running headlines about Pakistan's military allegedly attacking the resistance forces in Panjshir Valley, Afghanistan. Outlets like Republic, Times Now, and Zee Hindustan claim that the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) was collaborating with the Afghanistan Taliban to crush the resistance in the country. The problem? The "concrete proof" for this claim is gameplay footage from the popular military combat video game, Arma 3.
IGN India reports that major Indian news outlets were airing this footage across various channels and social media platforms for several hours, before they were finally debunked. Several people on social media called out the offending outlets for their reporting as well. An example with the Arma 3 video in question can be seen below:
While Arma 3 is a somewhat realistic battle simulator, one has to question why mainstream news outlets began airing video content without verifying its authenticity, and in fact, called it "exclusive footage" to prove that Pakistan is helping out Taliban in Afghanistan. One media outlet, Republic, has now posted a clarification on its Facebook page, stating that:
The video in question of ‘Pak Army striking Panjshir’ was taken and credited to Hasti TV - which as per their bio claims to be ‘the only Afghan TV channel in the UK catering to the needs of the Afghan/Persian Diasporas in the UK and rest of the World’. Hasti TV aired the video on their channel and also shared it on social media with the caption which when translated reads, ‘A video that we just received from Panjshir shows that a Pakistani military airplane is flying over Panjshir. Until now, the official sources have not approved this video.’ Multiple media outlets have carried and reported the said video. Since it has been brought to our notice that the video may not be accurate, the erroneous video sourced to Hasti TV has since been deleted from our official handles.
The misleading content has now been taken off-air and has been removed from social media platforms, online coverage, and YouTube.