Episode 8 | How India is Waging Disinformation War against Pakistan? | with Abubakar Farooqui Rationale-47

Abubakar Farooqui

In the last few days of the on-going month, one of the biggest international news that has come from the perspective of information warfare is the busting of a global propaganda network run by India in 116 countries. This network was detected and analysed by European Union Disinfo Lab that published an in-depth report on the operations of the disinformation network that had been specifically targeting European Union and United Nations to influence them against Pakistan for the past 15 years.

The Disnformation network ran under Srivastava Group that was established in New Delhi as a business consultant group; it also established its offices in Brussels and Geneva, which are headquarters of European Union and UN Commission on Human Rights respectively. The detailed report by EU Disinfo lab revealed that the Srivastava Group operated at least 750 fake media outlets that generated fake news in a bid to disseminate propaganda against Pakistan. The group also ran some 550+ domains of fake news websites that were used for the same purpose.

The propaganda network was massive, the scale of which has hitherto been incomparable with any other propaganda networks busted in the contemporary times. Srivasta Group also hired fake editors ad journalists who in fact never existed to produce fake stories against Pakistan. The network also included fake think tanks which were not in-fact think tanks and had no presence in the real world. On top of it, the group has been running at least 10 fake NGOs that are UN accredited. This allowed Srivastava Group to mould narrative in India’s favour and against Pakistan by conducting a massive propaganda war across the globe using fake news and disnformation.

An infogram from EU DisinfoLab report

The Objectives of Indian Disnformation Network

  • To disseminate propaganda against Pakistan
  • To discredit Pakistan internationally
  • To influence decision-making at United Nations (UN)
  • To influence decision-making at European Union (EU)

All four objectives are undoubtedly aimed at Pakistan. The propaganda dissemination against Pakistan included running fake news regarding terrorism by declaring Pakistan responsible using fake reports; creating an impression in European Union regarding Pakistan as a failed state that is on the verge of dismemberment due to separatist movements running in Balochistan, Kashmir and Gilgit-Baltistan and other parts of the country. This was in order to isolate Pakistan internationally, so that Pakistan gets no support from European Union and United Nations when the country raised voice against the sheer human rights violations by the Indian forces in the Indian Occupied Kashmir.

The disinformation war also included reincarnation of dead people, who were quoted by the fake media outlets and think tanks against Pakistan, to mould the narrative in India’s favour regarding Kashmir and against Pakistan. The fake think-tanks that Srivastava Group used also had specific targets. For example Times of Geneva, EP Today, European Union Organisation for Pakistani Minorities, Women Economic and Social Think Tank (WESTT), International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies, etc.

Times of Geneva specifically targeted Gilgit-Baltistan of Pakistan, by creating fake news and stories regarding the Pakistani provisional province. It produced content that showed the people of Gilgit Balitstan wanted secession from Pakistan and wanted to annex the province to India. Similarly the International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies, supervised the campaign for India regarding Kashmir by generating fake news and stories that were aimed at washing out India’s brazen acts of human rights violations in Indian occupied Kashmir. The so called think-tank would also arrange meet ups of the European members of parliament with Indian politicians to convince them of Indian Occupied Kashmir being a safe and secure Indian territory where everything was perfect and there were just a ‘few miscreants’ which were funded and supported by Pakistan. On the contrary, the situation on ground is entirely different where freedom slogans are reverberating in every nook and cranny of Kashmir.

A flow chart from EU Disnfo Lab report on Indian propaganda network

Connections of Srivastava Group

The Srivastava Group, that officially called itself a Business firm and then went on to establish a massive disinformation network in 116 countries is not a private group run by a few individuals. It is of course connected to the Indian intelligence agency Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) that has been working to bring Pakistan to collapse and dismemberment once again after 1971. India’s current National Security Advisor is a former RAW officer Ajit Doval who had stated that Pakistan would lose Balochistan if any incident like Mumbai occured again, implying India would dismember the state. This was also reinforced by Indian defence minister Manohar Parrikar who was defence minister of India from 2014 to 2017. Parrikar had stated that India would respond with “terrorism” to Pakistan.

Asian News International (ANI) has been one of the biggest connections to the Disinformation Network of India. The ANI is one of the biggest news agencies of South Asia, which was known for promoting and disseminating pro-India news and stories on almost all conflicts and crises in South Asia but the mystery of ANI’s connection remained unknown. After the EU disinfo lab report, it has become clear that the ANI repeatedly and consciously quoted the reports by fake media outlets under Srivasta group in order to propagate against Pakistan. The stories and reports by Srivastava Group media outlets were fake and the ANI continued to refer to those fake statements and reports to generate sympathies for India and advance India’s narrative when in fact, it was India that was oppressing its minorities and committing massive human rights violations in the disputed territory Indian Occupied Kashmir.

Pakistanis that Consciously or Unconsciously Collaborated

The Srivastava Group managed to connect with many Pakistanis outside Pakistan who claimed to be dissenters and critical of the Pakistani government. One of the biggest names in the category is of Pakistan’s former ambassador to United States, Mr. Hussain Haqqani who runs a think tank in Washington D.C, known as South Asia Against Terrorism and for Human rights (SAATH) Forum. The forum collaborated with fake media outlets and think-tanks under Srivastava Group and Mr. Haqqani even invited the persons behind those fake think tanks to breakfast too. The fake news disseminating group European Foundation for South Asian Studies (EFSAS) is also under Srivastava Group that collaborated with SAATH forum of Mr. Haqqani.

Other Pakistanis have also been part of the campaign, either consciously or unconsciously. With that said, it is not clear whether these Pakistani journalists knowingly collaborated with the Srivastava Group fake media outlets or just responded to the invitations. These names include Gulalai Ismail, an activist of the Pashtoon Tahaffuz Movemenet (PTM), Taha Siddiqui, Reham Khan, Ahmed Waqas Goraya, etc. There may be some Pakistani groups that collaborated with the Srivastava Group but at the moment, there is no concrete evidence of such collaboration and it will be too early to name any prior to a proper investigation.

Nutshell

India’s Srivastava Group was busted by EU Disinfo Lab that ran 750 fake media outlets, 550+ domains, 10+ UN accredited NGOs, fake think-tanks incorporating fake journalists and editors in 116 countries. The group disseminated propaganda against Pakistan to discredit it internationally and influence EU and UN decision-making against Pakistan. The Asian News International (ANI) provided coverage to the fake media outlets by quoting their fake news and reports. The propaganda network is a part of disinformation war against Pakistan that has been working for at least last 15 years.

About The Author
Abubakar Farooqui is the brains behind Rationale-47. He Studied International Relations at Quaid-i-Azam University, Islamabad. His areas of interest include National Security of Pakistan and International Politics, particularly of South Asia and Middle East. He tweets @AbubakarTweets

The views expressed in this article are solely those of the original author and do not necessarily reflect or represent the views of Rationale-47


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