In a two-day special meeting held by the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) Counter-Terrorism Committee (CTC) on 28 October 2022, India insinuated Pakistan’s involvement in international terrorism. The meeting entitled “Countering the Use of New and Emerging Technologies for Terrorist Purposes” convened in India involved panels of member states representatives, high-level UN officials, the private sector, civil society entities and researchers. During the conference, which was centred on three significant areas – the emerging technologies, their growing use by member states, and abuse of technology for terrorism purposes – the Indian External Affairs Minister robustly claimed Pakistan to be involved in global terrorism. This could either be another attempt by India to implicate the reputation of Pakistan through politicising international forums, or it could be India’s bid to mask its own subversive activities carried out under its right-wing ideology, or both.
Disinformation spread is not new when its origin is traced to India. History shows that Pakistan has remained a chief victim of India’s disinformation propaganda and mischievous activities. No state is unfamiliar with the EU DisInfo Lab report, which revealed India’s massive fake news operation, the Indian Chronicles, meant to undermine Pakistan. Indian elites have largely contributed to generating a baseless discourse over time. The Indian External Affairs Minister Subrahmanyam Jaishankar, besides inculpating Pakistan for its involvement in terrorism in front of the international community, has deliberately accused Pakistan through his harsh remarks at several other places. Earlier, while speaking at an event on the “Rising India and the World: Foreign Policy in Modi Era,” the Minister asserted that “no other country practices terrorism in the manner in which Pakistan has done. You show me anywhere in the world what Pakistan has done for so many years against India.” He further stated that where India is considered an “expert in Information Technology (IT)”, Pakistan is known as an “expert in international terrorism”.
On the one hand, India aims to dismantle Pakistan’s reputation domestically and internationally. On the other hand, the state seems to be masking its own human rights abuses by casting aspersions on Pakistan.
Ironically, he contradicted his own statement during the same meeting, where he emphasised that social media and the internet are potent instruments in the toolkit of a perpetrator aiming to disseminate conspiracy theories to destabilise societies. Indian media has been trying to manipulate information and turn the wider public against Pakistan by generating an anti-Muslim and anti-Pakistan narrative at the behest of the BJP government. New Delhi’s concerted efforts to pollute the image of its historical rival and put forward an alternative view reflect a feature of totalitarianism. Consequently, it distorts information and the understanding of those consuming it.
This brings us to the next assumption about India’s misleading campaigns. On the one hand, India aims to dismantle Pakistan’s reputation domestically and internationally. On the other hand, the state seems to be masking its own human rights abuses by casting aspersions on Pakistan. New Delhi aims to divert attention from its blatant atrocities in Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK) and from its “saffron terror” ideology that appears to be heading towards genocide. India’s dual interests are thus widely being served through its disinformation tactics. There have been countless incidents where Delhi openly bashed Pakistan without realising what is happening in its own state, and the BJP government has been playing an incessant role in stoking up events and unpleasant narratives against Pakistan.
India’s disinformation operations are widely spread across the nation. Since research suggests that group members behave identically thus, disinformation spread becomes effective. Furthermore, false information is always mixed with such content that the targeted audience can easily accept, and if that content is coming from a powerful elite, it is assumed to be legitimate instantly. These instances complicate distinguishing credible information from fake information and therefore have negative implications for the victim state. In the case of Pakistan, which had been a part of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) grey list until recently, it is not easy to defend a stance raised on an international platform. However, Pakistan categorically rejected the gratuitous remarks of the Indian Minister. Meanwhile, Islamabad demanded the international community to hold India accountable for not only prompting unrest in a neighbouring country and financing terrorist activities in its own state but also misleading the world to fulfil its nefarious designs. India has politicised and manoeuvred prestigious forums to malign Pakistan while hiding behind the curtain.
Nevertheless, the world is well aware of Pakistan’s contribution to fighting global terrorism as well as of India’s aspirations for casting doubts on Pakistan for its own acts of terrorism. India can no longer deny that it has deliberately tried to frame Pakistan through its regimented narratives within and abroad. The Indian media blitz of alternative views comes from official mouthpieces. Despite India’s tireless efforts to thwart Pakistan’s success at FATF, the latter has still been delisted due to its robust, credible and irreversible actions concerning counter-financing terrorism. This has prompted India to now turn towards hijacking and politicising international platforms. Pakistan must not tolerate the exploitation of its state at the hands of the enemy. Hence, to completely nullify the distractions, Islamabad needs to continue countering such disinformation campaigns by publicly exposing the misleading content, bringing forth the reality, and taking initiatives such as Fact Checker MoIB. Meanwhile, it should demand strict action from the international community, which stresses disinformation resolution and tackling hate speech as one of its agendas.