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World

India's 15-year-old disinformation, influence operation against Pakistan exposed

  • This vast network was active in Geneva and Brussels in producing and amplifying content designed to primarily sabotage Pakistan.
  • The disinformation operation actively targeted academic institutions and served New Delhi's interests mainly by reviving “dead media, dead think-tanks, and NGOs”, EU DisinfoLab report says.
  • The investigation revealed that the Indian network aims to reinforce pro-New Delhi and anti-Pakistan, anti-China content in India.
Published December 10, 2020
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A European group has exposed an Indian disinformation group operating since 2005 to discredit nations in conflict with New Delhi, particularly Pakistan and China.

Brussel-based EU DisinfoLab in its investigation titled ‘Indian Chronicle’ uncovered a network consisting of 265 fake local media outlets in 65 countries, serving New Delhi’s interest as well as multiple dubious think tanks and NGOs.

This vast network was active in Geneva and Brussels in producing and amplifying content designed to primarily sabotage Pakistan.

The investigation revealed that the Indian network aims to reinforce pro-New Delhi and anti-Pakistan, anti-China content in India.

Furthermore, the network is also working on to improve India’s image and damage reputation of rival countries internationally. The ultimate aim for the move is to get India more support from international institutions such as the European Union and the United Nations.

In order to do so, the network falsely attributed op-ed articles to their authors, some of them European lawmakers. Journalists who seem not to exist. Anti-Pakistan content ripped from other websites and repackaged to be read by hundreds of millions in India.

Moreover, DisinfoLab investigation revealed that the ‘fake’ news outlets were managed by Indian stakeholders, with ties to a large network of think tanks, NGOs, and companies from the Srivastava Group.

The anti-Pakistan and anti-China content is being reused by Indian news agency ANI and hundreds of other domains, including EP Today, Times of Geneva, and New Delhi Times. Most websites had Twitter presence as well.

Some of the EU lawmakers featured on the website denied having written op-eds published in their name. Others said they were happy to have a platform where they can broadcast their sympathies for the Indian government.

EU DisinfoLab’s Managing director Gary Machado said that group coordinates a number of organisations fronting as NGOs and have influence in the parliament.

"What we learned in this investigation is that it is possible to turn EU Institutions into unwitting actors of a 15-year influence operation. With lobbying and fake media, Indian Chronicles [the name DisinfoLab has given to the operation] has been successful in building a strong sense of a constant official support of the EU to Indian interests, reaching millions in South-Asia."

India and Pakistan are nuclear-armed political rivals in South Asia. They have fought multiple wars. Much of their dispute is centered around the region of Kashmir, which is currently divided between the two countries, but neither formally accepts the de facto border.

Internationally, India blames Pakistan for cross-border terrorism, and both blame each other for persecuting the religious minorities in their countries — Muslims in India, Hindus in Pakistan.

Meanwhile, Special Assistant to Prime Minister on National Security Division and Strategic Policy Planning Moeed Yusuf coming on the investigation said: “Today's India is spreading instability, hate and lies as state policy. The world can only turn a blind eye to India's nefarious agenda at its own peril.

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