Pakistanis take to Twitter to thrash Arnab Goswami for "5th floor" claims

Updated 20 Sep 2021
Arnab Goswami has been ridiculed for his comments about Serena Kabul's fifth floor. Republic TV
Arnab Goswami has been ridiculed for his comments about Serena Kabul's fifth floor. Republic TV

Arnab Goswami, who has been described as arguably India's most controversial TV anchor, found himself in hot soup when his earlier claims about the Pakistan army's involvement in Afghanistan were debunked on Sunday.

In his show "The Debate" on September 15, Goswami claimed to have an exclusive scoop which he said was about the Pakistan army staying on the fifth floor at Kabul's Serena hotel -- except that the hotel is only two floored.

The co-founder of AltNews M Zubair posted a clip from Goswami's show on Twitter.

In the heated exchange between Pakistani guest and PTI spokesperson Abdul Samad Yaqoob, the outspoken anchor was arguing about Pakistan's role in the then fighting in Panjshir.

Yaqoob challenges Goswami about his sourcing.

"My sources said three things, all of which are right. My sources said that the people of Panjshir will fight and they are still fighting," says a visibly charged Goswami.

"Secondly, my sources said that the Pakistani forces will retreat and all your officers will leave, slowly start pulling out. That is exactly what happened. Okay, you go and check today, you check today, okay, on the fifth floor of the Serena Hotel. I'm telling you, please check, fifth floor of the Serena Hotel in Kabul. How many Pakistani Army officers are there?"

Goswami continues in a firm voice at this point.

"I am giving you. You want more details? I'll tell you which room, or is this enough? Fifth floor of the Serena Hotel, Kabul, how many Pakistani officers are there. Okay? I can also tell you what they ordered for dinner, so don't question my intelligence sources."

The following day when Yaqoob returns to Goswami's show he says he's checked and there are only two floors of the Kabul Serena. Goswami laughs and gets visibly flustered.

This exchange has garnered a lot of attention on social media with Arnab Goswami trending on Twitter in Pakistan. It was also the perfect opportunity for Pakistanis to display their wicked sense of humor.

This is not the first time Goswami has landed in hot waters for or with his show.

In 2020 he was arrested over a suicide case when a mother-son committed suicide because they had not been paid by Republic TV; he denies the charges and was released on bail.

In a profile about him by BBC, critics said his viewers "are being drip-fed false information, divisive and inflammatory views, and propaganda for the Hindu nationalist BJP - its six years in power have been linked to the increased marginalisation of India's 200 million Muslims."

Earlier in April during India's lockdown Goswami accused Tablighi Jamaat leaders of violating the lockdown and called on Prime Minister Narendra Modi to lock up their leaders. The allegations were unsubstantiated and false but the damage was done with Islamophobic comments on social media witnessing a rise.

When Bollywood actor Sushant Singh committed suicide in July, his family filed a complaint against his girlfriend, actress Rhea Chakraborty saying she abbetted the suicide, a claim she denies. However Republic TV ran a vicious campaign against her demanding she be arrested.

"What Republic does is it sort of demonises people, often people who don't have the power to fight back, whether it's activists, young students, members of minority communities, or protesters," Manisha Pande, executive editor at Newslaundry, was quoted in the BBC profile.

While he has a strong following in India, his critics in India also took to Twitter to denounce his "5 floor" gaffe.