WASHINGTON: The Afghan government doctored the official photo of the Tillerson-Ghani meeting at an American base in Afghanistan to create the impression that they met in Kabul, the US media reported on Tuesday.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani and US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met on Monday, when the top US diplomat came to Afghanistan on a surprise visit.

After the meeting, the American Embassy and the Afghan president’s office released a statement claiming that the two men had met in Kabul. But The New York Times noted that the meeting actually occurred at Bagram, the US military base more than thirty miles from the capital city.

“By claiming that Mr Tillerson and Mr Ghani were in Kabul and not at a fortified military base, the Afghan government can project strength and advance a positive narrative about the country’s security,” Fox News observed.

The US media reported that the Afghan government altered photographs of this meeting to support their claim that the meeting took place in Kabul, creating discrepancies between the Afghan and the official US photos.

These discrepancies were first noticed by social media enthusiasts who set the Internet abuzz with questions about this change and forced NYT to conduct a close inspection of the two set of photos.

The scrutiny found significant discrepancies in the photographs that may be explained by an effort to use image-manipulation software to doctor at least one of the images, Fox News added. Both US and Afghan photographs showed Mr Tillerson and Mr Ghani seated at the front of a windowless room, flanked by their delegations.

However, the image released by the president’s office in Kabul did not include either the military-style digital clock or the large fire alarm that appear directly above Mr Tillerson and Mr Ghani in the US photograph.

Published in Dawn, October 25th, 2017

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