Exposing the Fake News War Against Pakistan: Analysts Weigh In

On 9 December 2020, Brussels-based fake news watchdog EU DisinfoLab blew the lid off a systematic campaign stoking adverse views on Pakistan. It was a concerted program under the umbrella of the shadowy Delhi-based Srivastava Group, says a report on EastAsiaForum’s website.

It says: This continued for nearly 15 years: A network comprising over a thousand mostly Indian news outlets and domains operating across the world systematically influenced international opinion against Pakistan. Unquestioned by key officials in the United States and Europe, these sources of motivated information and disinformation constituted an essential part of a pro-India group’s campaign against Pakistan. Entities apparently used to bring Pakistan into disrepute included NGOs such as Balochistan House, Gilgit Baltistan Forum, Balochistan Forum, European Organization for Pakistani Minorities, and the South Asia Democratic Forum. These UN-accredited NGOs worked in coordination with non-accredited think tanks and minority-rights NGOs in Brussels and Geneva, claimed the Indian Chronicle authors. Several of them were directly but opaquely created by the Srivastava group.

Commenting on the expose, two renowned analysts south of the Tropic of Cancer region shared their views with DesPardes:

“Pakistan has been on the receiving end of world media.
Even in the Arab world, the negative aspects featured prominently. I was therefore not surprised to read about this report. A well crafted disinformation program by people filled with hate did great damage. However their exposure is an eye opener. It is up to the Pakistan authorities and business houses to help encourage and promote media that offers a fair and balanced projection about Pakistan in all aspects” — Comment by a renowned Middle East media icon and Gulf analyst.

“I’ve read the original European Commission report (from which this is drawn). It reaffirms my belief that whatever India’s ruling elite formally states, it’s national security establishment has never reconciled itself to the existence of a Pakistan that is in the world’s eyes equal in both conceptual legitimacy and practical ramifications. Denigrating Pakistan, reducing its capability, highlighting its (admittedly many) weaknesses, and lowering its stature in the world’s eyes have been core if unstated tenets of Indian policy since the Partition. Indian agencies have devoted enormous time and resources to subverting Pakistan and continue to do so. This was made clear when two front-ranking Indian nationalist leaders, BJP stalwarts (respectively ex-DPM, and Finance/Defense Minister) L.K. Advani and Jaswant Singh, whose patriotism could not be questioned by anyone, visited Pakistan, were impressed, returned, and spoke in effusive terms about Jinnah and Pakistan, and were immediately described as ‘ghaddars’ (traitors)”.

He adds: “As in my PhD dissertation, which I defended in December 1990, I can again explain the ideational, conceptual and philosophical bases of my postulate that the validation of the concept of the Indian State is seen by many Indians to depend on the delegitimization of the validity of the Pakistani construct. As long as Pakistan remains an effective and respectable state within the international community, Indian anxiety will not be allayed. This could be described as a zero-sum approach to Indo-Pakistani relations. Of course, this is not really ‘essential’. Advani and Jaswant Singh (and Vajpayee’s bus to Lahore) demonstrated that. More practically, when Morarji Desai assumed premiership in 1977, he lowered India’s profile and advanced the importance of India’s relations with ALL its neighbors in a non-domineering manner. It was very successful. Sadly, the domestic political constituency for such policies was marginal and Desai’s coalition was badly defeated by Congress in 1980 when Mrs, Gandhi restored India’s role as the regional hegemon. So, that’s my summary”. (Comment by a an Asia-Pacific based analyst who specializes in US-China relations and South Asia. He’s author of several books including “Cold War in the High Himalayas“.

The report says that “EU DisinfoLab Executive Director Alexandre Alaphilippe stated that it was the ‘largest network’ of disinformation they have exposed. The watchdog partially exposed the network in 2019, but now says the operation is much larger and more resilient than first suspected”.

“Not stopping this sort of malicious activity says a lot about the Indian government”, said the ANU’s Claude Rakisits.

It adds: “The Indian Chronicles report may now represent an opportunity for Pakistan — whose image is reeling from the consequences of the long-term campaign from India mounted against it — to set things right through astute diplomacy”.

It further states: “This affair reveals a deliberate and targeted disinformation campaign from within the world’s largest democracy. British jurist Nazir Gilani argues it is more than a fit case for Pakistan to raise in the European Union and on the floor of the United Nations. India’s self-interest trumped when it acquiesced in — even if not directly supported — a massive disinformation campaign on its neighbor”.

The original article appeared in EastAsiaForum website.