ISLAMABAD: Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Chaudhry Fawad Hussain on Wednesday revealed that the cancellation of the New Zealand cricket team’s tour of Pakistan was a result of the fifth generation hybrid war against Pakistan as fake news was generated by India to sabotage it.
Speaking here at a news conference along with Federal Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid, Fawad explained that the threatening email was generated from a secure service, Proton mail, and Pakistan has requested the Interpol to assist it in further investigations. He explained that on August 19, a Facebook post was circulated from a fabricated account made in the name of Ehsanullah Ehsan (former spokesman of Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan) on the social media, asking the New Zealand Cricket Board and the government not to send the team to Pakistan, as a plan had been made to target the New Zealand team, however, the post was not found on the Facebook.
He said that after two days, Indian newspaper Sunday Guardian Bureau Chief Abhinandan Mishra wrote an article claiming that the New Zealand cricket team may face a terrorist attack in Pakistan: The article was based on the fake post of Ehsanullah Ehsan while Mishra was also found in contact with former Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh. The minister noted that projection of threat by publication of an article by the bureau chief of a reputed Indian paper based on a fake social media post suggested an orchestrated campaign to scuttle the New Zealand team’s tour.
Fawad said that on August 24, Martin Guptill’s wife had received a threatening email from email ID: [email protected], threatening to kill Martin Guptill while on tour. The email ID was not associated with any SMN. But interestingly, the very email account was generated at 01:05am on Aug 24 and emailed on the same day at 11:59am: It was obvious that the email was generated purposefully as no other activity was found from the same email.
The minister continued that despite all these tactics, the New Zealand tour was not cancelled and its team arrived in Pakistan on September 11 and 12 in two chartered flights. The team attended practice sessions at the Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on September 13 and 14 from 4:30pm to 7:30pm and no threat alert was reported and both the teams again carried out practice in the evening on September 16.
He said that on September 17, the NZ team/government expressed concern over the reported credible threat and cancelled the tour unilaterally without sharing the details of the threat while the next day, the Interpol Wellington informed the Interpol Islamabad about the receipt of a threatening email to the New Zealand Police from [email protected] at 06:25am (NZ time), requesting further probe. He added that the New Zealand Police received the threatening email at 06:25am on September 18, according to the Pakistan Standard Time 23:25 (11:25pm on September 17).
Fawad said the email [email protected] was generated at 18:10 hrs, Sep 17 (UTC); 2310 hrs/11:10pm (PST). The email was sent 15 minutes after the ID was created and it was generated for a specific purpose. The email was sent from an associated device in India using VPN showing IP address/location of Singapore. The device RMX 1971 (Realme) used 13 email IDs; except Hamza Afridi, all other 12 email IDs have Indian/Hindi names. Apparently, Hamza Afridi was purposefully used to malign Pakistan, which hints at involvement of Indian agencies.
He said the subject mobile phone was launched in August 2019 in India and the Reliance Jio mobile SIM was registered on this mobile phone on September 25, 2019, indicating a single user. He said that the social media co-relation and exploitation revealed that the possible user of this email ID is an Indian, Omparkash Mishra, from Mumbai.
The minister pointed out that the timing and text of the threat email suggested that this threat was not the reason for the cancellation of the tour but was issued just after the cancellation to malign Pakistan and substantiate the security concerns of New Zealand and other touring countries. He added that Abhinandan Mishra wrote another column on Sept 18 titled “Threat of Kabul Airport-like attack led NZ to cancel Pak tour”.
Fawad noted that another email, after the tour was cancelled on September 17, was sent to the New Zealand team on September 17 at 11:25pm PST, from an ID generated under the name Hamza Afridi. He said the Interpol Wellington intimated the Interpol Pakistan about the threat on September 18. The minister read out the email's transcript: Dear New Zealand Cricket, you did wrong to go to Pakistan and now see what will happen to you. Your cricket team is not going anywhere now. In every place, the bombs will be placed now, from the hotel to your flight. My men will not forgive you, they are coming to New Zealand. Pakistan Zindabad, Allah hu Akbar.
The minister said that the involvement of the Indian media and intelligence agencies in a systematic campaign to malign Pakistan were based on a concocted/orchestrated social media campaign. He said the FIA would contact Interpol/Proton mail for provision of details on [email protected] He said Pakistan is sure that the same agencies are behind this email ID which had sent the threatening mail form the Hamza Afridi account.
He said the FIA is in contact with the Interpol to provide details of email IDs and Pakistan would request other cricket teams to share security-related concerns, if any. He added the Indian disinformation campaign based on false threat alert led to unilateral cancelation of tour by New Zealand.
“This is a very serious trend and the ICC must take notice of these nefarious acts of Indian nationals, otherwise it will adversely impact the gentleman’s game for many years to come. Pakistan has learnt that a similar threat has been sent to the West Indies Cricket Board from another concocted email ID [email protected] We are in the process of investigating; however, it is interesting to note that nobody in knowledge of Urdu can spell ‘ehsan’ as ‘ehshan and this spelling mistake in the ID reflected concocted involvement of Indian hands,” he explained.
He said that during a Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) summit, the information reached there at a time when Premier Imran Khan was to make his speech and after the speech, the prime minister was informed about the New Zealand’s decision to abandon the tour. He was requested by Chairman Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) Rameez Raja to call his New Zealand counterpart to assure her of security of their players. The prime minister told the New Zealand prime minister that the cancellation of tour would result in people's frustration and anger. But she insisted that she had critical information about the plot to attack New Zealand cricketers.
The minister noted that the British high commissioner has categorically stated that no change in the green advisory for Pakistan has been made. He said if the government had no objection, the England Cricket Board had no right to cancel the tour while the reference to fatigue factor is a frivolous plea by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB).
He said that PCB chairman, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the Interior Ministry would take up the issue at all forums. The minister thanked the cricket fraternity including international players and cricket lovers from all over the world for supporting Pakistan.
Earlier, the minister said India had been hatching conspiracies against Pakistan but like in the past, it would fail to weaken Pakistan’s standing at the international level. He said India had done huge investment in Afghanistan to use its soil for operating terrorists in Pakistan but after the fall of Kabul, its all investment wasted.
Meanwhile, Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid said if anyone thinks Pakistan would be isolated from NZ's tour cancellation, he is bereft of reason. "We cannot be isolated and on the day of the New Zealand [tour cancellation], I said that England's team would not come as well," the interior minister said. "Cricket is our passion but disappointment is [equivalent] to disbelief. A day will come when the teams of the world will come to Pakistan."
He said West Indies has received a fake threat and the same will be received by Australia. He said India’s 66 terrorist camps have been closed in Afghanistan and it is in a mourning state over the camps’ closure.
Rashid claimed that "India frees many people from prison on bail and then trains them. It is not desisting from [promoting] terrorism in Pakistan." Recounting Pakistan's sacrifices, he said the country has thwarted terrorism before as well. "Peace is our stance and it will be established in the country." He said Pakistan played a "historic role" and evacuated over 10,000 people from Afghanistan including Nato forces, IMF and World Bank personnel and Americans. "India has been disappointed that Pakistan couldn't be made a scapegoat and it's thinking that there would be a civil war [in Afghanistan] and so much killing and slaughter that there would be a rush of refugees here — not a single refugee has come."
He said the Torkham and Chaman borders are functioning normally and more people are going to Afghanistan from Pakistan than those coming here. "Everything is peaceful. This is all a drama and the gloved hands behind this drama will be unsuccessful. Pakistan is a great nation and has great security agencies and army. There is an elected government and no one can isolate us. We will move forward," the interior minister said.
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