EU DisinfoLab, a European NGO driven on researching disinformation campaigns, has revealed a network of ambiguous NGOs and think tanks that aid more than 200 fake news organizations controlled by an Indian network to influence opinions across the European Union and the United Nations by disseminating malignant content on Pakistan.
Earlier in November, the NGO disclosed its early findings that had uncovered a network of 265 “fake” news outlets spearheaded by an Indian network to influence the EU and UN with critical content targeting Pakistan.
India’s Hate Spurring Networks
EU DisinfoLab’s investigation revealed that the fake websites were copy-pasting anti-Pakistan content from ambiguous press agencies, and exaggerated the material disseminated by politicians and unusual think tanks. These efforts encouraged the geopolitical interests of the BJP-led government in India.
India Shining In Fake News Business: Over 265 fake local news sites in more than 65 countries are managed by an Indian influence network. https://t.co/Gn4XdmJmeA
— Waseem Abbasi (@Wabbasi007) December 16, 2019
The fake news outlets, such as New Delhi Times, EP Today, and Times of Geneva amongst others, republished the anti-Pakistani content. Many of these outlets also had a presence on social media and Twitter.
The findings revealed that these fake news outlets were controlled by Indian stakeholders, companies from the Srivastava Group, and a wide network of think tanks and NGOs. In a lengthy report, released on Monday, the EU DisinfoLab provided a detailed overview of the efforts of the Indian network and its fake news outlets.
The network was also involved in staging anti-Pakistan lobbying events across Europe, and these events were later covered by the fake news outlets. The findings revealed that multiple ambiguous organizations had been convening demonstrations and social media campaigns against Pakistan, particularly during the sessions of the UN Human Rights Council. These social media campaigns were using the hashtag for the live broadcast of the yearly UNHRC session.
The report further reveals that the anti-Pakistani campaigns organized in Geneva on the issue of minorities were organized by the European Organization for Pakistani Minorities (EOPM) and the Voice of Pakistani Minorities (VOPM).
EU DisinfoLab stated in this regard, “We found hard evidence that both EP Today and Times of Geneva have extremely strong ties with a network of NGOs and think tanks, such as the European Organization for Pakistani Minorities (EOPM), and Pakistani Women’s Human Rights Organization.”
“Specifically, the websites of these NGOs and think tanks are hosted on the same servers and/or staff have worked for one of these previous organizations while publishing articles for EP Today. We also proved that the two influence networks (Brussels and Geneva) were interconnected by discovering links between website registration addresses, email addresses, and domain names.”
— RegionalTelegraph (@RegnlTelegraph) December 17, 2019
These campaigns were orchestrated to originate criticism towards the state of Pakistan for its maltreatment of minorities and persecution of certain ethnic groups. The findings highlight that in March 2017, the EOPM organized a three-day exhibition in Onex to portray the “atrocities” against Pakistan’s Christian community.
The same year in September, a campaign, #StopPakistan, was launched to raise the issue of women’s rights in Pakistan during the 36th session of the UN Human Rights Council. On September 10, 2019, the 42nd session of the UN Human Rights Council witnessed yet another campaign, titled #PakistanStopGenocide, directed at Balochistan.
MEPs Engaged with Indian Network
The report further revealed that some Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) were directly involved with the Indian network and made contributions to their media coverage, took part in conferences and promoted their agendas in the European Parliament.
The report mentions Madi Sharma, also known as Madhu Sharma, a British member of the European Economic and Social Committee (EESC). Madhu has also written for EP Today and New Delhi Times as an “EU correspondents” alongside sending invitations to the MEPs for a controversial visit to the Indian-occupied territory of Kashmir.
The findings revealed that these protests were covered by an extensive network of fake news outlets, operated by Indian firm Srivastava Group. As part of the same agenda, on April 30, 2019, 51 MEPs issued a collective letter to Prime Minister Imran Khan, raising concerns over the treatment of religious minorities and demanding assurances from the Premier. This letter was published on EP Today.