TIC Brief l

The report by EU Disinformation Laboratory has uncovered a massive Indian propaganda network which had tentacles even in the European Union Parliament. The independent, non-profit disinformation watchdog’s latest report illustrates in graphic detail the web of more than 750 media in 116 countries; over 550 website domain names registered; resurrection of dead people; impersonation of EU institutions and direct control of more than 10 NGOs accredited to the UN Human Rights Council, utilized for the purpose of pushing fake news and false Indian propaganda against Pakistan since 2005.

Clippings

The report stated that the operation led by the Srivastava Group and amplified by ANI — an Indian news agency based in New Delhi — under the banner of “Indian Chronicles” began in 2005 and is still underway. It’s mission is to discredit nations in conflict with India in Asia, in particular, Pakistan but also China to a lesser extent. “Indian Chronicles’ key objective is to undermine Pakistan internationally. To do so, they resurrected dead NGOs at the UN. They impersonated the EU. They laundered content produced by fake media to real media – and reached millions in South-Asia and across the world,” the report added as per ARY News.

This network was active in Brussels and Geneva in producing and amplifying content designed to, primarily, undermine Pakistan, the report says. The actors behind these operations also impersonated senior politicians, journalists and media organisations, had fake addresses and phone numbers, and registered over 750 media websites and over 550 domain names for their network. This included NGOs, think-tanks, media, European Parliament informal groups, religious and Imam organizations, obscure publishing companies and public personalities. The report states that New-Delhi based Srivastava Group in partnership with the Women’s Economic and Social Think-Tank, which had sponsored the trip of 27 MEPs to visit Kashmir and had met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Medianama reported.

The latest DisinfoLab report builds upon a 2019 report that had exposed EP Today’s workings. In October 2019, the European External Action Service’s East Strat Com, effectively the EU’s task force to tackle disinformation, revealed that the EP Today website had been republishing a large amount of news directly from Russia Today and Voice of America. When DisinfoLab investigated the organisation, it found “a large number of articles and op-eds related to minorities in Pakistan as well as other India related matters.” The investigation also linked EP Today to a “large network of think tanks, NGOs, and companies from the Srivastava Group.” The IP address of EP Today was registered by an NGOs linked to the Srivastava group. Their findings, which included at least 265 fake news sites that operated in around sixty countries, all linked to Indian interests, were published in a December 2019 report. Following this publication, the EP Today website disappeared,  as did a range of other news organisations named in the report according to India based Caravan magazine.

The European NGO has revealed that the ANI – which considers itself as South Asia’s leading multimedia news agency providing content to TV, newspapers, digital platforms and mobile apps – has played a big role in the disinformation network. The DisinfoLab report says that fake media websites and NGOs run by the Srivastava Group lobbied members of the European Parliament to write op-eds taking pro-India stances, often against Pakistan or China. The articles, the report said, were then published on the group’s dummy news websites which the ANI would quote as credible reports from the European media, from where the Indian media and news channels reproduced and disseminated them, often unchecked, AlJazeera stated.

The Indian lobby in an attempt to push the anti-Pakistan narrative stole the identity of former chairman of the Commission to Study the Organisation of Peace (CSOP) – Prof Louis B Sohn, also known as the “grandfather of international human rights law”. During the investigations, the Disinfo Lab found out that Prof Louis B Sohn’s name was listed as a CSOP participant at the UNHRC session in 2007 and at a separate event in Washington DC in 2011. Prof Sohn had died in 2006 at the age of 92 in a report by Aaj News.

Comments

The EU Disinfo Lab report will strengthen Pakistan’s case against India and bolster the recent Diplomatic campaign which was intiated through a dossier exposing Indian links to terrorism. It also strengthens Pakistan institutions’ claim against so called dissidents such as Hussain Haqqani, SAATH forum and various ethnic & self proclaimed Human rights groups of being hostile actors with malignant designs. Pakistan can utilize this case both to tackle Indian propaganda mills and outreach to world’s capitals but also use this to make a case against exiled malcontents who use foreign soil to promote an anti-state narrative. The EU dis-info report has in short completely destroyed the credibility of Indian narrative across the world and given Pakistan a completely new slate for promotion of its narrative.

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