In international politics, it was used to said that whoever controls the seas, controls the world. In contemporary times, it is not wrong to say that whoever controls the media, controls the minds. Media, eventually, has become the most powerful object on earth. It has the power to make the innocent guilty and to make the guilty innocent. It has also become a potent avenue for spreading disinformation and false propaganda against adversaries. Media propaganda not only creates conflicts among society’s differing classes but also among states. In all ages, propaganda has always been evident in momentum social movements such as American independence, French Revolution, and especially during wartimes to shape public opinions to gain more allies on an international level.
Nowadays, in a media engulfed society, mass media and social media are the main platforms and outputs for carrying out acts of propaganda. As ‘Internet’ is unprecedentedly accessible for each individual, and interactive social networking sites provide a strong platform for debate and sharing opinions; social media has become a more influential tool for propaganda. Propaganda, in forms of a video uploaded to YouTube, a post on Facebook or Twitter, or even a piece of comment, has far-reaching effectiveness to disseminate certain beliefs. Common public, government agencies and politicians take advantage of the platforms to spread ‘junk’ news in favour of their cause.
Similarly, India has been using this medium by generating and propagating false and fake news through a network of 750 fake media outlets and 550 website domain names in 162 countries as revealed by EU DisinfoLab. Its purpose has been to deteriorate the image, malign, defame, isolate and portray Pakistan as a state which sponsors terrorism. Another objective of it is to discredit nations in conflict with India in Asia, in particular Pakistan but also China to a lesser extent. Its long-term objectives are: (i) to reinforce pro-Indian and anti-Pakistan (and anti-Chinese) feelings; (ii) to consolidate the power and improve the perception of India internationally; (iii) to damage the reputation of other countries and ultimately benefit from more support from international institutions such as the EU and the UN; and, (iv) to divert the world’s attention from the human rights record within India and in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIJOK).
The Indian Chronicles, as reveled by EU DisinfoLab, is a 15 year-long operation running since 2005 and is still ongoing at this date. The open-source investigation shows that the operation is led by the RAW based Srivastava Group (SG) and amplified by Asian News International (ANI), a premier Indian news agency. Its modus operandi are using fake publications to spread fake news about Pakistan and then having them highlighted by ANI. India has also been using fictional NGOs to spread disinformation and has been using these platforms to influence foreign dignitaries as well. In order to do so, the operation consists of the support to minority and human rights NGOs and think-tanks; use of Members of the European Parliament to create a mirage of institutional support from European institutions to these minority groups, in favour of Indian interests and against Pakistan (and China); an active presence in Geneva and the United Nations’ Human Rights Council through; side-events and demonstrations in support of minority rights; impersonation of extinguished UN-accredited NGOs or use speaking slots reserved to various NGOs whose original missions seem totally unrelated.
The researcher of EU DisinfoLab themselves are alarmed to see the continuation of Indian Chronicles. They have suggested that ‘this should serve as a call to action for decision-makers to put in place a relevant framework to sanction actors abusing our international institutions. They have also urged the domain name industry ‘to seriously reflect on this kind of fraudulent, disinforming behaviour as technical abuse of the domain name system’. Indian Chronicles show that how activities of a fake NGO and that of a fake specialized media can be repackaged, distorted and amplified by malicious actors to influence globally, using loopholes in international institutions and online search engines.
Undoubtedly, this sustained campaign has been tarnishing Pakistan’s image at the global level. Pakistan’s policy is peace with all the neighbours but India always comes up with actions that only spoil Pakistan’s efforts. It had already briefed the United Nations (UN) and the influential countries, including the US, about the naked Indian propaganda. Pakistan, as is evident from the foregoing, is faced with a persistent and formidable hybrid warfare by India. From the separation of East Pakistan to Balochistan insurgency, India has been using tools of propaganda warfare against Pakistan. The Indian propaganda will continue to flourish as a means for indoctrinating the global community and this mission will likely to continue in future. Pakistan needs to improve its intelligence network to spot and counter Indian propaganda on time. In addition, Pakistan needs to formally raise its voice at the UN Security Council. Pakistan’s missions abroad should be tasked to sensitize the relevant governments about this malicious Indian campaign. UN and the international community need to warn India that it has to give up this attitude.
Note: This article appeared on Geo Politica, dated 23 December 2020.
Disclaimer: The views expressed in the article are of the author and do not necessarily represent Institute’s policy.