The disclosures by EU DisinfoLab regarding India’s dubious use of media, NGOs, fake identities, impersonation and fraudulent use of big names to malign Pakistan has been shocking and has further exposed the myth of Indian democracy and its championship of human rights and freedoms.
For 15 years, this fake media business was run by Indian actors in over 100 countries, particularly targeting the UN Human Rights Council in Geneva where it got 10 NGOs accredited so as to promote anti-Pakistan agenda, and in Brussels where it fraudulently hoodwinked MEPs into criticizing Pakistan, especially on human rights.
‘Indian Chronicles’, as the EU DisinfoLab has called its research, has come up with a detailed investigative report of India’s attempts to show Pakistan, and to lesser extent China, in a bad light. The 15-year propaganda campaign which was led by the Srivastava Group and amplified by Indian news agency, ANI, was launched in 2005 and is still ongoing. The actors orchestrating this network are directly tied to the creation of three informal groups in the European Parliament – the South Asia Peace Forum, the Baloch Forum and Friends of Gilgit-Baltistan – to organize press conferences and events in front and within the European Parliament to malign Pakistan.
A moot question arises as to how European governments with elaborate intelligence networks could not see this multi-million-dollar Indian enterprise. Or did they simply look the other way because of their business interests in India.
Secondly, these disclosures also exposed the myth of justice and fair play boasted by the champions of human rights in the US and Europe which despite gross human rights violations in Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir have kept a meaningful silence over the Modi government’s inhuman actions, or merely issued anodyne statements expressing concern in a mild tone so as to avoid annoying India.
France, the champion of secularism, quick to punish Muslim women in hijab but conveniently ignored the Citizens Amendment Act (CAA) or National Register of Citizenship (NRC) which specifically discriminates against Muslims, and the plight of over 1.9 million citizens in Assam who have been declared illegal for being Bengali Muslims. Obviously, France would not have criticized India since it was in the middle of finalizing the Rafale deal with a whopping $5 billion bill.
Third, on December 8, US Secretary of State Pompeo designated Burma, China, Eritrea, Iran, Nigeria, the DPRK, Pakistan, Saudi Arabia, Tajikistan, and Turkmenistan as countries of concern under the International Religious Freedom Act of 1998 “for engaging systematic, ongoing, egregious religious freedom violations”.
The most amazing part of this designation was that India was conveniently ignored, despite glaring evidence of gross human rights violations in and by India. The whole world media showed the gory scenes of the inhuman lockdown of Occupied Kashmir, and the brutal killing of innocent Muslims by RSS goons in full sight of the law-enforcement agencies.
Last year, the US International Commission on Religious Freedom (USCIRF) had gravely expressed its concern over the plight of minorities, particularly Muslims, in India and had recommended sanctions against Indian Home Minister Amit Shah and other top leaders of India. But it turned out that the US military-industrial complex was looking for multi-billion dollars weapon deals in India which the Trump administration could not ignore.
Some would ask whether this disinformation network can be classified as a propaganda tool, or it is falls in the category of gross misconduct, fraud, misuse of a third-country’s laws, resurrection of dead media, dead think-tanks and NGOs, as well as dead people, in a desperate attempt to disparage Pakistan.
Will those MEPs whose names and identities were used by these fake media houses, NGOs and think tanks try to take legal action against the culprits in order to clear their names and reputation?
While India has been busy orchestrating anti-Pakistan rhetoric in the world capitals during the past 15 years, its game plan became more aggressive ever since Ajit Doval took over as national security adviser in Modi’s first tenure. The so-called Doval Doctrine hinges on keeping Pakistan under pressure through low-level insurgency in the country so that Pakistan amends its Kashmir policy. India’s support to the TTP and its associates as well as some Baloch dissident organizations is a practical manifestation of the Doval Doctrine, which Indian officials proudly boast about in their public interactions. This recently uncovered disinformation network has been a propaganda tool to articulate the destructive doctrine with the sole objective of misleading international public opinion.
However, practitioners of the Doval Doctrine must have thought through the consequences and vulnerabilities of India, especially when over a dozen ongoing insurgencies in the country can be lucrative targets for Pakistan should it decide to pay India in the same coin. Apparently, so far Pakistan has exercised restraint but this patience may have limits, especially when India tries to equate international disputes such as Kashmir with domestic issues such as Balochistan.
Indian machinations to conduct terrorist activities in Pakistan through third countries have been comprehensively documented in the dossier released by the government of Pakistan last month to important capitals. Hopefully, Western analysts will take a serious look at these dossiers in light of EU DisinfoLab’s latest disclosures, and avoid sidestepping the issue as an India-Pakistan spat.
Although Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi has called on the UN and the EU to investigate the abuse of their institutions by India, how Pakistan handles this issue, including taking a legal course in relevant capitals, will be closely watched. There is ample evidence to expose the facade of Indian democracy. As an immediate measure, Pakistan may demand delisting of Indian-sponsored fake NGOs in the Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC) so that such shoddy entities are denied access to the UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC).
The writer is a former ambassador.
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