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Thursday December 02, 2021

Geo News exposed Indian propaganda machinery three years ago

December 11, 2020

ISLAMABAD: The EU DisinfoLab has done a commendable job to uncover the Indian global disinformation campaign against Pakistan, but Geo News achieved this feat three years ago.

On September 19, 2017 Geo News had reported that diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Switzerland were on a knife-edge over an expensive multi-faceted campaign in Geneva targeting Pakistan.

Geo News witnessed and filmed the anti-Pakistan blitz being run on billboards, trams, buses, rickshaws, websites, and an army of paid volunteers dedicated to running this campaign to malign the country at a time when the 36th session of the UNHRC was underway.

An investigation by Geo News reporter Murtaza Ali Shah established that the Indian mission in Geneva was controlling anti-Pakistan activities and the local Swiss administration was paid heavy amounts in commercial deals for these campaigns across its public transport, road networks, and private business venues.

Anti-Pakistan posters appeared on dozens of billboards across the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) building in central Geneva in almost a square mile, sponsored by an organisation called “Balochistan House”.

Geo News had revealed exclusively on ‘Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Saath’ in 2016 how European and African students and asylum seekers were paid daily wages to hold anti-Pakistan demonstrations outside the UNHRC building by an influential European NGO operating from Brussels.

The anti-Pakistan posters were decorated on local trams running around the UNHRC building, and buses with routes leading to and around the UN buildings. Ambassador Farukh Amil, then permanent representative of Pakistan to the United Nations (UN), had written to the Swiss authorities to take action and Pakistan's Foreign Office summoned to the Foreign Office Switzerland's then Ambassador-designate Thomas Kolly to condemn the anti-Pakistan posters. Pakistan told the Swiss envoy that activities on its soil were against "Pakistan's sovereignty and territorial integrity, in contravention of the UN Charter and international law”.

Ambassador Amil told Swiss authorities in his letter that “it is quite conceivable that local city authorities received certain revenue fee for display of these posters,” stressing that the posters were "a flagrant attack on sovereignty and territorial integrity of Pakistan".

"The use of Swiss soil by terrorists and violent secessionists for nefarious designs against Pakistan and its 200 million people is totally unacceptable,” said the ambassador, demanding that the incident be "fully investigated with a view to blocking its recurrence in the future".

Geo News learnt after making inquiries at the local government council, that the 'Balochistan House' had signed “commercial contracts” with the local city government as well as advertising companies to 'service' the campaign, and that any cancelation of the campaign could result in legal claims.

Geo correspondent drove around the city on the route of the posters and spotted more than two dozen billboards in areas where the diplomatic community and international delegates normally reside during the yearly sessions of the UNHRC. The carefully placed posters were both in static and rolling format and light was shone on them at night.

A separate standee campaign carrying slogans against Pakistan with a focus on minorities was also rolled out by the group calling itself the EOPM and Pakistan Human Rights Organisation. These standees were manned by two European teenagers. When asked if they had anything to do with this campaign, they said they were brought over from a local university to do the six hours shift and were paid 350 francs each. They said they offer their services for such purposes to anyone who pays them in cash. These standees carry slogans against violence on women and acid attacks but the organsiation sponsoring these standees is dubious.