TRUTH cannot be hidden for long. India has a track record of interfering in its neighbours’ affairs through various facets of hybrid warfare like: Proxies’ employment, false flag operations, claims to victimhood, misrepresentation etc. A 09 December report by a Brussels-based NGO EU DisinfoLab is just the tip of the iceberg. An 80-page investigative report has revealed how India used fake media outlets, defunct think tanks, NGOs and even a dead human right activist to target Pakistan. Reaction from the important capitals has been rather subdued. Observers believe that if such an operation was carried out by countries such as China or Russia, the reaction from the world particularly from the western countries would have been far more different.
The disinformation campaign is aimed at bolstering India’s global perception, which will ultimately allow New Delhi to bag more support from international institutions such as the EU and the UN. The operation’s mission is to discredit nations in conflict with India in the region, in particular, Pakistan and also China to a certain extent. The operation, which has been running for the past 15 years, has employed more than 750 fake media outlets and more than 550 domain names in 119 countries to reinforce pro-India and anti-Pakistan feelings. According to the report, there is a vast network of fake media outlets, think tanks and NGOs serving Indian interests. An earlier report had previously uncovered the Indian propaganda body, carrying out anti-Pakistan activities and cyber warfare against Pakistan led by Srivastava Group of India and propagated by the Indian Asia News Agency (ANI), since 2005.
In its initial reaction to DisinfoLab scandal, Pakistan has called upon the United Nations and UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to immediately begin an investigation into these startling revelations. De-listing of the 10 fake NGOs created by India to malign Pakistan should be the starting action. Pakistan has asked for a credible investigation into the manipulation of the EU Parliament and its legislative process by these fake organisations involved in anti-Pakistan propaganda under a fully funded disinformation influence operation run by India. It also called on the UN to create processes that ensure that the international system is not manipulated through such influence operations.
India’s Srivastava Group used ANI to spread fake news against Pakistan. Since ANI offers its services to many local and international media outlets, it helped India give credibility to its fake campaign against Pakistan. The international news agency, Reuters, also has an agreement with ANI. Pakistan has asked such news outlets, including Reuters, to review their arrangement with the Indian newswire service, now proven to be repeatedly pushing fake news from two fake Indian created websites. EU DisinfoLab’s investigation has unearthed a massive disinformation campaign captioned ‘Indian Chronicles’. Operation was launched in 2005, aimed at undermining Pakistan internationally. The Report has exposed a nefarious network comprising hundreds of India sponsored websites spread across 119 countries and within the European Union and the United Nations. The Indian actors carrying out the latest malicious operation resurrected more than 10 defunct Human Rights Council accredited NGOs, registered with the names of deceased analysts and experts, created hundreds of fake journalists identities, generated more than 750 media outlets and registered more than 550 fake domain names.
Srivastava Group launched and backed the operation while ANI boosted it. ANI is based in R K Puram, New Delhi that offers syndicated multimedia news feed to plethora of news-bureaus in India and abroad. ANI, repackaged and amplified the malicious content. During the investigation, it was found that the former President of the European Parliament Martin Schulz — who said to have left politics — was now heading Canners International, an NGO dedicated to the promotion of food in cans was deeply involved in subversive activities against Pakistan. “We soon found the NGO he was supposedly leading officially ceased to exist in 2007 and was now regularly speaking at the UN Human Rights Council to slam Pakistan,” the report said.
The Indian Chronicles also resurrected a renowned international human rights lawyer Louis Sohn. He was listed as a participant in a UN event in 2007 as well as an attendee during an event in Washington DC in 2011 even though he passed away in 2006. The report further said that outside the doors of the UN, Indian Chronicles also created and supported several NGOs and think-tanks in charge of lobbying, organising events and demonstrations, all favourable to Indian interests. At the United Nations’ Human Rights Council, the operation was used to arrange side-events and demonstrations in support of minority rights, impersonate extinguished UN-accredited NGOs and use speaking slots reserved to various NGOs whose original missions seem unrelated. Campaign’s long-term objectives was to promote content against Pakistan and China, and consolidate India’s power at international forums such as the EU and UN. Project supports minorities, human rights NGOs and think-tanks in targeted countries. It also gives the impression that the minority groups in Pakistan and China have institutional support from European institutions.
Prime Minster Imran Khan said: Revelations by DisinfoLab on the widespread Indian network of subversive activities vindicates Pakistan’s position and exposes its detractors. In a series of tweets, the prime minister said that “Pakistan has consistently drawn attention of international community to India’s subversive activities to undermine democracies in the region and export/fund extremism through structures of fake news organisations and “think tanks”. Such Indian ploys of spreading misinformation are doomed to fail. By spreading such falsehood, India can neither cast a shadow on the international stature of Pakistan nor can it divert the attention of the international community from its horrendous human rights record. Instead of wasting more time in peddling falsehood and fake news, India should put its house in order and take care of its own issues of poverty, grave human rights violations, exploitation of minority rights and rising radicalism.
India’s subversive activities against Pakistan have been ignored for far too long by the international community. The scope and extent of India’s operations against Pakistan under their hybrid war is now apparent for the world to see. Indian actions involve criminality and breach of international law. International community has a responsibility to take heed of India’s agenda which threatens regional peace and continues to manipulate the international system. Pakistan has already put forth irrefutable evidence, extensively documenting India’s active planning, promoting, aiding, abetting, financing and executing terrorist activities in Pakistan. Recently Pakistan has provided dossier to United Nations about India’s state terrorism projects in Pakistan. International community needs to take notice of a rogue Indian regime that now threatens the stability of the global systems. Australian National University Professor Dr Claude Rakisits has aptly commented: “It will be very obvious that India is not the Great Democracy.”
—The Islamabad-based writer is a retired army officer and a regular contributor to the national press.