Indian and Pakistani intelligence agencies, RAW and ISI now seem to be covertly engaging in cyber-warfare and social-media slandering campaigns. Even at a diplomatic level, both nations are leaving no stones unturned in taking a dig at each other.
According to Hindustan Times reports, Pakistan has launched a cyber-war to malign the image of India and PM Narendra Modi to create a wedge between New Delhi and the Middle-East nations.
The smear campaign on social media follows the same pattern that was launched by Pakistan agencies post the removal of Article 370 from Jammu and Kashmir last year.
According to the latest assessment report handed to the government on Wednesday, the effort was designed to flood social media with messages to fuel anti-India sentiment, particularly in the Gulf countries, “by spreading false propaganda on Islamophobia in India”.
The security agencies were able to draw a connection between the sporadic rise in messages on social media targetting PM Modi and India to a coordinated effort that has the “imprint” of Pakistani intelligence.
The report said that the Pakistan deep state was attempting to cause a split between India and the Gulf allies by attacking PM Modi who has invested heavily to deepen India’s ties with the Middle-East.
This isn’t the first time New Delhi has been targetted by social media messages. According to HT reports, security agencies had observed a similar tactical smear campaign after the Indian Parliament approved to strip Jammu and Kashmir of its special status.
Speaking to HT, a top government aid commented — ‘’ What has been the novelty in the instant case is the use of prominent personalities in Gulf countries to scale up a systematic agenda of fake propaganda. This effort has clear imprints of the involvement of Pakistan ISI,” he said.
The assessment classifies Twitter handles into four categories: aggregators, feeders, spreaders, and influencers. Twitter handles classified as feeders collect the videos from aggregators, devise the appropriate messaging for the videos or photographs, and then forward it to the spreaders.
Officials said it was not a coincidence that the Twitter handles of most of these feeders were created recently – between January and April – and indicated a concocted plan and organized effort to target India.
There has been an increase in the number of Pakistani accounts changing the name to Arabic names or posing as Arab royalty. As reported earlier today by the EurAsian Times, the fake tweet by an Omani Princess calling out PM Modi over rising Islamophobia in India is a clear evidence of Pakistani propaganda.
While most handles are based in Pakistan, according to the report there were also spreaders located in Middle East countries including Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, and the United Arab Emirates. These are all old but unverified Twitter handles, the report said.
The cyber-war campaign comes at the heels of reports in the Indian media claiming that Pakistan is ‘exporting’ COVID-19 infected militants across the border in an effort to spread the virus in J&K and create mayhem in the region.
Director-General of Jammu and Kashmir Police Dilbag Singh recently stated “it is a fact” that Pakistan is “trying to push” people infected with COVID-19 into Jammu and Kashmir in order to spread the deadly virus among the people of the Valley which experts in Islamabad have called absurd and concocted stories.
Earlier, as the EurAsian Times reported, President of Pak-administered-Kashmir — Sardar Masood Khan said that New Delhi has been using the “cover of the coronavirus” to “mow down” Kashmiri youth and denying them treatment for coronavirus.
Both nations have erupted in a war of words and an un-diplomatic slandering campaign. Pakistan PM Imran Khan recently accused Indian PM Narendra Modi for targeting the minority Muslim community in India, comparing PM Modi with Hitler, India with Germany and persecuted Jews with Muslims.
The Pakistan PM tweeted – The deliberate & violent targeting of Muslims in India by Modi Govt to divert the backlash over its COVID19 policy, which has left thousands stranded & hungry, is akin to what Nazis did to Jews in Germany. Yet more proof of the racist Hindutva Supremacist ideology of Modi Govt.”
Recently, the Indian media launched an aggressive media campaign against Pakistan after domes of the Sikh Gurdwara in Kartarpur were damaged due to rains and thunderstorms.
The Pakistan Foreign Office (FO) spokesperson clarified that the domes damaged on the night of April 17 had already been repaired. FO Spokesperson Aisha Farooqui stated the repair work was completed within 24 hours of the damage.
Farooqui added that it was ironical that a country where religious minorities did not feel safe, and where their places of worship were routinely destroyed under the patronage of state machinery, had the temerity to raise the issue of minor damage caused to a religious site elsewhere due to a natural calamity.