Fact check: Pakistan did not have prior knowledge of Iran’s aerial strike

Published January 18, 2024
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos. — Photo via PressTV
Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos. — Photo via PressTV

A post circulating on social media on Wednesday claimed that Iran’s aerial strike on Pakistani territory a day earlier was made after talking to the latter’s government. However, no such talks were held between the two countries before the incident.

The strikes, Iran claimed, had targeted bases for the militant group Jaish al-Adl in the border town of Panjgur in Balochistan. The violation its airspace had drawn strong condemnation from Islamabad, which then downgraded its diplomatic ties with Tehran before carrying out tit-for-tar strikes of its own today.

A post claiming that Pakistan had prior knowledge of the attack on its soil was shared on X with a caption that read: “The statement of the Iranian foreign minister must be shared so that the ongoing propaganda fails. An attack on Pakistan was made after talks with the government.”

The post gained over 268,000 views and more than 7,700 reposts.

A 70-second clip in the post showed Iranian Foreign Minister Hossein Amir Abdollahian talking at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

According to iVerify Pakistan, the clip was from an interview of Iran’s top diplomat by veteran journalist Fareed Zakaria on the sidelines of the World Economic Forum.

The following is a transcript of the relevant part of the interview from the 11:20 minute mark:

“We only targeted Iranian terrorists on the soil of Pakistan. Before this, I talked to my colleague, the honourable foreign minister of Pakistan, and I assured him that we do respect the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan.”

Analysing the transcript, the team saw that the foreign minister’s quote regarding his talk with Pakistan’s interim Foreign Minister Jalil Abbas Jilani was instead construed by the claim under investigation as contact with the Pakistan government

Furthermore, the claim linked its interpretation while grabbing onto the “before this” part of the Iranian foreign minister’s comment.

“Carrying out a search for recent official communication between the two foreign ministers, both before and after the attack, yielded no results for the first search,” the platform said.

However, it added that press releases were issued a day ago from both countries on a telephonic conversation between their foreign ministers.

The fact-check outlet further said that an examination of the language of key parts from the two statements showed that both “referred to the Jan 16 attack in the past tense and clearly placed the telephonic conversation as occurring in its aftermath”.

Thus, iVerify said that it determined the claim under investigation to be false since the analysis of the Iranian FM’s interview or press releases from the foreign ministries of the two countries “does not point to any contact or talks before the Jan 16 attack”.

It added that the available evidence pointed to the telephonic conversation, mentioned in the interview, between the Iranian and Pakistan top diplomats taking place in the aftermath of the attack.

“iVerify Pakistan concluded that the ‘before this’ part of the Iranian diplomat’s interview clearly referred to his engagement and activities at the meeting of the World Economic Forum instead of before the attack.

“The Iranian foreign minister meant that his conversation with FM Jilani took place before the interview, not before the Jan 16 attack — as claimed in the circulated social media posts,” the website said.


This fact check has been published in partnership with iVerify Pakistan — a project of CEJ and UNDP.

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