Raffaello Pantucci, a senior associate fellow at Britain’s Royal United Services Institute and a visiting senior fellow at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies in Singapore, has exposed the links between India and terrorists before the world in its article ‘Indians and Central Asians are the new face of the Islamic State’. In the article for a magazine, Pantucci argues that an increasing number of Indian and Central Asian links to plots outside their regions is dangerous for the neighboring countries.
In India, Prime Minister Narendra Modi has advanced a series of policies promoting a Hindu nationalist narrative openly hostile toward Muslims. The approach is fuming extremism in India, the article stated.
“Links of involvement of Indians in attacks in Afghanistan and fighting in Syria have also been unearthed. The attack on the prison in Jalalabad follows the earlier decision by ISKP to use an Indian fighter to attack a Sikh gurdwara—a place of worship—in Kabul.”
The article further states that the IS officially announced the creation of an affiliate in India last year but has been hinting about involvement in Kashmir for years.
Indians involved in terrorist attacks have until now been the exception. The few Indians who pursued terrorist attacks tended to do it at home in a limited fashion.
India spreading anti-Pakistan propaganda?
Notably, the EU DisinfoLab, a European NGO tackling disinformation, has recently published its findings on a vast network of fake local news sites in over 65 countries serving Indian interests by repeatedly criticizing Pakistan. A summary of the report has some eye-opening facts for Pakistan.
The websites which are more than 265 in number, are designed to influence the European Union (EU) and the United Nations (UN) with the objective of damaging Pakistan, according to the report.
In early October, the European External Action Service’s (EEAS) East StratCom Task Force — or the EU Disinformation Task Force — had revealed that eptoday.com, which covers European Parliament (EP) in Brussels, was plagiarizing news from Russia Today and Voice of America since a long time.
Most of the plagiarized content included articles and op-eds related to minorities in Pakistan and India-related matters. Surprisingly, it was discovered that the monthly publication was owned by Indians, with links to numerous think tanks, NGOs, and entities from the Srivastava Group.
The group’s Internet Protocol (IP) address was home to an obscure online media outlet, New Delhi Times, as well as the International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies (IINS), both of which were tracked to the same location in the Indian city of New Delhi.
So far, the analysis shows timesofgeneva.com targeting the UN and EP Today targeting the EU. The publications have been active for several years now. The investigators also found 4newsagency.com, which is a “synergy between 4 news agencies from Switzerland, Belgium, Thailand, and Abu Dhabi (UAE)”, with its teams spreading over a 100 countries. It operates in the same mode as EP Today and timesofgeneva.com.
- Plagiarized content
- Same office addresses
- Substantial reporting of Indian matters
- The majority of the websites are named after defunct local newspapers or imitate working media outlets.
- Plagiarized content from news agencies (VOA, Interfax, etc.)
- Similar coverage of India-related demonstrations and events.
- Republication of anti-Pakistan content from the aforementioned Indian network, including EP Today, 4NewsAgency, and New Delhi Times.
What Fake Media Outlets Do
- Influence international institutions and elected representatives by publishing particular news items.
- Help out NGOs by providing them with the desired material to enhance their credibility.
- When several media outlets publish the same content, it is hard to trace the manipulation, thus legitimizing wrong information.
- Damage Pakistan’s public image by making similar content available on search engines.
How to Deal with Propaganda in the Age of Social Media?
There have been reports of banning accounts operating from Pakistan which are critical of India’s oppression in the Indian-occupied Kashmir. Pakistan took up the matter with Twitter and Facebook in order to present its case on how India was curbing the freedom of expression.
At the moment, Pakistan is yet to respond to these startling facts brought up by an NGO. Experts believe that the educated youth of Pakistan has a responsibility to defend the country’s national interests at digital fronts.