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HomeGeopolitical CompassSouth & Southeast AsiaHow India Unleashed Targeted Social Media Campaigns against Pakistan

How India Unleashed Targeted Social Media Campaigns against Pakistan

Author: Hammad Sarfraz

Affiliation: The Express Tribune

Organization/Publisher: The Express Tribune

Date/Place: December 26, 2021/Karachi, Pakistan

Type of Literature: Reportage

Word Count: 2700

Link: https://tribune.com.pk/story/2335695/how-india-unleashed-targeted-social-media-campaigns-against-pakistan

 

Keywords: Pakistan, Kashmir, India, Fake News, Disinformation, EU DisinfoLab, Media, Communications, and Afghan Peace Process

Brief:

Experts told an international summit on communications in Istanbul this December that though prejudice should not reflect in narrative building, what is fatal for public relations strategy is “leaving information vacuums.” That is exactly what ails Pakistan: no communications, not to speak of a communications strategy. This piece is based on a voluminous exposé by Brussels-based EU DisinfoLab where it revealed how a network of websites, think tanks, NGOs and organizations – based across important capitals and multi-national forums – have been working against the interests of Pakistan for the past 15 years. The author explains disinformation as: “It’s a feature of totalitarianism, certainly; controlling and distorting information controls and distorts the understanding of those consuming it.” The mass exposé was done in two reports in 2019 and the following year. The target of this disinformation network, linked to India, revolves around Pakistan’s image of sponsoring non-state actors, its inability to meet requirements of Financial Action Task Force, backing Kashmiri rebels against Indian “rule”, treatment of minorities in the country and the state’s behavior with different ethnic groups. New Delhi has not only been able to weaponize the disinformation but has also succeed in winning many games. This reportage also cites several studies which found India to be the biggest disinformation laboratory even during the COVID-19 pandemic when there should have no scope for misinformation. The worry is not India’s weaponizing the disinformation, but essentially Pakistan’s inability to rise to the occasion and fill the gaps in its nowhere-to-be-seen communications strategy. The vacuum in communications invites manipulation because the control is not in your hand. And Islamabad has paid heavily when Indian-backed networks resurrected dead professors and established fake think tanks to work against genuine Pakistani interests at the United Nations, EU Parliament, UN Human Rights Council in Geneva besides in other world capitals. Before it is too late, Turks need to wake up as Türkiye is another target of the vicious disinformation campaigns run from New Delhi.

 

By: Riyaz ul Khaliq, CIGA Non-resident Research Associate

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