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Lasbela copter crash: ISI, IB in JIT to probe smear campaign

Purpose behind constitution of joint investigation team is to net real people active behind scene, says sources

By News Report & Shakeel Anjum
August 09, 2022
Image collage showing the six Pakistan Army personnel who embraced martyrdom during a helicopter crash in Balochistan. — ISPR
Image collage showing the six Pakistan Army personnel who embraced martyrdom during a helicopter crash in Balochistan. — ISPR

ISLAMABAD: The federal government has constituted a six-member inquiry committee, including officials from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB), to probe into the poisonous propaganda launched against the military officers who were martyred in the Lasbela helicopter crash.

The Pakistan Army helicopter carrying a senior commander and five others crashed on a mountain during a flood relief operation last Monday and all on board were killed. Following the incident, a smear campaign started on the social media which targeted the martyred military officers and included hashtags against the military.

Among those killed in the unfortunate incident were Lieutenant General Sarfaraz, Brigadier Amjad Hanif, whose name was cleared for promotion as Major General, Brigadier Muhammad Khalid, both pilots Major Saeed Ahmed and Major Talha Manan, and Naik Mudassar Fayyaz.

“The purpose behind the constitution of the joint investigation team is to net the real people active behind the scene,” said the sources. Earlier, the interior ministry had constituted a 4-member inquiry team comprising Dr. Mohammad Athar Waheed, Additional Director General, Cyber Crime Wing; Dr Waqaruddin Syed, Director FIA CCW North; Ayyaz Khan, Additional Director CCW Islamabad; and Imran Haider, Assistant Director Islamabad.

The second notification issued on August 8 announced inclusion of intelligence officials, including Deputy Director Waqar Nisar of the IB, in the JIT. The JIT meeting will be held at the FIA Headquarters, Islamabad on August 10 (tomorrow).

The committee will take meaningful and effective measures to arrest those behind the poisonous propaganda against the martyred military officers. There is a strong possibility that director general FIA will also participate in the meeting, but the final decision has not been taken in this regard.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif had called the campaign “horrifying” and said it reflected that the minds of young Pakistanis were being poisoned. ISPR, the army’s media wing, also rejected the ‘regretful’ social media trends, saying they had caused anguish among the families of those who had died as well as in the army as an institution.

He urged the nation to unite against those spreading negative propaganda and rumors. “Insensitive behavior is unacceptable and should be condemned on every platform.” Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah Monday said an online smear campaign against the military and its officers in the wake of an army helicopter crash would be investigated, as a team had been constituted by the government to probe the negative propaganda.

Speaking to reporters in Faisalabad, Sana said the nation had ‘rejected’ the propaganda against the victims of the helicopter crash. “There is no segment of society which shares these sentiments,” the minister said.