Politics

Pakistan urges UN, EU to probe India’s propaganda network

(Update 1: adds Indian reaction)

Islamabad, Dec 11 (efe-epa).- Pakistan on Friday urged the United Nations and the European Union to probe a vast Indian propaganda network that is allegedly involved in spreading disinformation to undermine Islamabad at international forums.

Brussels-based EU DisinfoLab recently unearthed the network that has been operating for the last 15 years.

The European nonprofit, which claims that it checks the disinformation targeting the European Union, its parliamentarians, and policies, said that New Delhi-based Srivastava Group ran the operation with fake media outlets and fictitious identities to paint Pakistan in a bad light globally.

“Pakistan calls on the United Nations and the UN Human Rights Council to immediately begin investigation and delisting of the 10 fake NGOs created by India to malign Pakistan,” Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi told reporters.

The minister made a similar request to the EU Parliament and said the Indian propaganda machinery had misled its institutions into believing believe in the false campaign.

According to the EU DisinfoLab report, the Indian campaign has been operating at least since 2005 and was to influence the EU policies in New Delhi’s favor to win support from the UN and international NGOs.

The nonprofit, however, did not link the network with the Indian state.

According to the expose, the propaganda machinery covered 119 countries through over 500 fake media outlets and a dozen nonprofits and think-tanks based in Belgium, Switzerland, and the United States, linked with the Srivastava business group.

The DisinfoLab also flagged Indian news agency ANI (Asian News International) and Big News Network, a web of 450 suspicious media outlets, for allegedly publishing sponsored content masquerading as news articles.

The network invented fictitious journalists and used identities of unrelated professionals, even “resurrecting” dead personalities, according to the report.

Qureshi also urged the Swiss and Belgian authorities to investigate the funding of fake NGOs registered in their territories and used by the Indian plot.

“Truth cannot be hidden for long. The scope and extent of Indian operation against Pakistan under their hybrid war is now apparent for the world to see,” the minister said.

“Pakistan will take all necessary actions to protect its interests.”

Meanwhile India rejected the allegations while in turn accusing Pakistan – without directly taking its name – of being the “best example” of a country that spreads disinformation.

“As a responsible democracy, India does not practice disinformation campaigns,” Indian foreign ministry spokesperson Anurag Srivastava said.

“In fact, if you are looking at disinformation, the best example is the country next door which is circulating fictional and fabricated dossiers and purveys a regular stream of fake news,” he added, accusing Pakistan of “sheltering international wanted terrorists including Osama Bin Laden.”

India and Pakistan have fought three wars and multiple minor conflicts since their independence from British rule in 1947.

The two South Asia nuclear powers are locked in a long-standing conflict over the disputed region of Kashmir, divided between them. EFE-EPA

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