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Khawaja Asif Pakistan Israel Nuclear Syria
Reuterss/Faisal Mahmood
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Fooled by fake news, Pakistan defence minister reminds Israel of Islamabad’s nuclear weapons

By Devjyot Ghoshal

Fake news has claimed another victim—and even prompted a bit of sabre-rattling by the defence minister of a nuclear-armed nation.

On Dec. 23, Khawaja Muhammad Asif, Pakistan’s defence minister, unexpectedly sent a terse reminder to Israel about Islamabad’s nuclear capabilities:

The warning isn’t exactly unlike Asif—who, earlier this year, reportedly threatened to nuke India—but the defence minister’s most recent nuclear shenanigans were apparently provoked by a fake news report.

On Dec. 20, AWD News (awdnews.com)—a fake news outlet that fact-checking website Snopes describes “as a site that peddles hoaxes and conspiracy theories”—reported that Moshe Ya’alon, a former Israeli defence minister, “threatened to ‘destroy’ Pakistan-after Pakistan said on Thursday it will send Sunni fighters to Syria.”

The story was headlined: “Israeli Defense Minister: If Pakistan send ground troops into Syria on any pretext, we will destroy this country with a nuclear attack.” Provoked by the AWD News’s typo-riddled report (it even misspelt Ya’alon’s name), Asif hit back on Twitter.

Thankfully, a swift fact-checking was provided by Israel’s defence ministry that directly tweeted a clarification to the Pakistani minister:

Arif, though, is seemingly undeterred. On Christmas Day, he posted another, possibly-related tweet:

And the original nuclear threat still remains on his Twitter timeline, with over 3,000 re-tweets.