EDITORIAL: Speaking at a seminar in Islamabad on Monday, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi urged the global community to act on the revelations made by the EU’s DisinfoLab about India’s misuse of international organisations for its malicious propaganda against Pakistan. Notably, in its 2019 report titled “Indian Chronicles” DisinfoLab investigators had partially exposed that campaign. Another report launched last December uncovered 265 sites - as against 750 fake media outlets spotted earlier - operating in 65 countries and spread over at least 116 countries, tracing them back to a Delhi-based holding company, Srivastava Group (SG). The network has been targeting UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and European Parliament to discredit and internationally isolate this country. Manifestly confounded by the sophistication and reach of the operation, the EU watchdog’s executive director Alexandre Alaphilippe had said his researchers had never encountered such co-ordination between different stakeholders to spread disinformation.
That should worry not only Pakistan but also decision-makers at the UN and in the EU countries, for SG has undermined the integrity of their institutions, too. It is hard to believe, however, that some of their staff unknowingly allowed SG to spread false propaganda, especially after the 2019 DisinfoLab’s report, which described in considerable detail how the SG network operated though fake media outlets as well as think tanks. The 2020 report reveals that the network not only remained active, but had also expanded its reach. The UN and EU platforms were used by so-called experts who claimed to have nothing to do with this region’s politics and yet kept their focus on targeting Pakistan. This time, though, the European Parliament has taken notice of the revelations made by their own watchdog. Last month, its Special Committee on Foreign Interference started hearings on the issue. DisinfoLab’s executive and managing directors briefed the committee on “Indian Chronicles”. Nonetheless, considering the SG has cultivated contacts among decision-makers it may yet succeed in retaining some of its ability to carry on its spiteful campaign against Pakistan.
It is good to note that Islamabad has gotten active to unmask India’s real face. The Foreign Minister told the seminar that the High Representative of European Union has already been informed, through a letter, and Pakistan’s ambassador in Brussels is also in touch with members of European Parliament as well as EU institutions to keep them updated on what he called “Indian conspiracies”. Pakistan’s representatives in Geneva have been briefing UNHRC officials. Furthermore, he said, relevant authorities in Switzerland and Belgium have been contacted and asked to investigate the funds and remittances of the fake NGOs identified by DisinfoLab reports. All this is necessary to hold India to account for its “reprehensible deeds”. It would also be helpful to sensitize civil society in those countries about the underhand tactics employed by New Delhi to mislead public opinion.
Copyright Business Recorder, 2021