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Report says Delhi and Kabul derailing Afghan Peace Process

Pakistan’s top policy think tank, IPRI, sheds light on the disinformation campaign launched by India and Afghanistan to sabotage Pakistan’s role as a mediator to the conflict. G5iO has extracted data analytics to deconstruct coordinated disinformation tactics launched by them.

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The G5 internet observatory was launched in April 2019 to study the digital space and how it could help formulate better public policies. Islamabad Policy Research Institute set up a project on acquiring data on Afghan Peace Process disinformation campaigns. The final report was released this month.

According to the report, the occurrence of such campaigns heightened over the past three months, owing to the U.S troop withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the recent military victories by the Taliban.

The regularity of such campaigns has risen over the last few months with different methods of scraping data from Twitter around May 2020. This highlighted the key narratives of different networks and user accounts carrying out disinformation operations.

These insights were formulated using the technique of comparative analysis of online hashtag activity with offline use of political and regional security events. This also featured how both India and Afghanistan have utilized overlapping stories in their propaganda against Pakistan by flaring ethnic nationalism, circulating fake news over FATF, and repeatedly trying to blame Pakistan for the catastrophe in Afghanistan.

The report also provides a timeline of data picturing how the campaign aims to target and undermine Pakistan’s efforts for peace in Afghanistan. The report furthermore features the details of collaborative network activity carried out by India and Afghanistan.

Read more: Former advisor to US Army says Pakistan not be blamed for Kabul’s failures

Most of these campaigns were coordinated in three areas. Firstly, they were developed on similar narratives being propagated by both Kabul and Delhi. Secondly, the coordinated activity stemmed from known state-linked accounts and it also “comprised of a considerable level of artificial activity.” Very recently Pakistan found itself bombarded with #SanctionPakistan trending.

Earlier this hashtag was predominantly originating from Indian usage, but since the events of June 2021, a major chunk of the Afghan population is hyping this propaganda. The report states, “The same hashtag was artificially pushed on 9th and 10th August by mostly Indian and Afghan sponsored accounts to around 500k+ tweets; out of which 65% of the activity was artificially generated. The graphs below show clear spikes in such artificial activity during the mentioned times.”

Pakistan charged back with #BlameGameonPakistan to counter propaganda initiated by Delhi and Kabul. Pakistan has asserted that Afghanistan lacks the ability to safeguard its own people and then divert attention by blaming a neighbour who has only facilitated peace in the region. The fifth-generation warfare, or commonly known as 5G warfare, against Pakistan has augmented without delay, while international countries continue to ignore these antics.

This report brings into light the use of Social media to smear the image of countries for personal gains. Social Media now has real-world fallout on societies and individuals and many others who don’t even possess this technology. To fan the flames of ethnic nationalism, the spread of fake news on wide-scale and propaganda campaigns on social media have lost their positive outlook.

Read more: How the 5th generation warfare is spinning our world?

The report thus sends a signal that ethical use of these platforms is key for worldwide peace and prosperity. However, fighting misinformation, therefore, garners more attention to retain the positive image in the arena of powerful countries.