The Balakot airstrikes are a classic example of a successful operation not being backed adequately by an equally strong information campaign. Consequently, the adversary gained an upper hand in influencing the narrative.
The Uri example
However, the cross-border raids in response to the Uri terror attack, popularly known as ‘surgical strikes’, were announced by India’s then Director General of Military Operations, Lt Gen Ranbir Singh, to the world during a press conference on July 12, 2018.
In the case of Balakot, the news was broken first by the Director-General, Inter-Services Public Relations (DG ISPR) of Pakistan Army. In an early-morning tweet, it said that an Indian airstrike into Pakistan’s territory was forced to drop bombs hastily because of their alert and timely countermeasures, and it caused damage only to trees.
India’s response in the media, and on social media, over the next two days left a lot to be desired, including the news of the capture of Wing Commander Abhinandan Varthaman.
Of late, it has increasingly become apparent that social media is, arguably, the most significant tool of this dimension. In fact, it is more than a tool today — it has become a weapon.