London, December 18 (KMS): A research conducted by a Belgium-based non-governmental organisation has said that a network of pro-Indian fake websites has been spreading propaganda against Pakistan around the world.
The EU Disinfo Lab report says that it has found over 265 fake local news sites in more than 65 countries that are managed by one ‘Indian influence network’.
The EU Disinfo Lab report posted on BBC website quoting the researchers said they traced the websites and IP addresses to an Indian company called Srivastava Group. The researchers believe the network’s purpose is to disseminate propaganda against Pakistan and influence decision-making in Europe. “More than the fake media outlets alone, it is their combination with the fake NGOs (non-governmental organisation) that’s really worrying because it provides a mirage of online and grassroots support to a cause. That’s exactly where the disinformation lies,” Alexandre Alaphilippe, executive director of EU Disinfo Lab, told the BBC.
The network of such websites was also found to involve groups responsible for anti-Pakistan lobbying events in Europe, according to the Brussels-based group which says its focus is on researching and tackling sophisticated disinformation campaigns targeting the European Union (EU), its member states, core institutions and core values.
One group identified in the network, the European Organisation for Pakistani Minorities (EOPM), organised a protest in front of the UN in 2016, and a conference held in the United Nations Human Rights Council. EOPM put posters in Geneva which contained the message “Save the Minorities in Pakistan”. In 2017 posters with the message “Free Balochistan” and other slogans supporting minorities in Pakistan appeared on streets in Geneva, resulting in Pakistani authorities summoning the Swiss Ambassador to demand the removal of the posters.
The EU Disinfo Lab report highlights that this year, a campaign was launched in front of the United Nations office in Geneva about Balochistan. The protest used the hashtag #PakistanStopGenocide, with speeches made by various individuals named in the report. It was extensively covered in media outlets in the network, such as the Times of Geneva. The report said that the disinformation campaign was targeted at influencing European institutions and the United Nations (UN). The anti-Pakistan network revealed by EU Disinfo Lab has a strong presence in European cities such as Brussels, Geneva and Strasbourg, coordinating demonstrations and a social media campaign.
EU Disinfo Lab, which is an independent NGO, traced the servers behind the website to Srivastava Group, an Indian holding company which declares on its website that it is based in New Delhi and has “interests in Natural resources, Clean energy, Airspace, Consulting services, Healthcare, Print Media and Publishing”.
However, BBC Hindi reporter Kirti Dubey when visited the address given on the website she was informed by a security guard that there was no office in the building. A neighbour who had lived in the area for 40 years told her he had never seen anyone in the house. Srivastava Group did not respond to the BBC’s attempts to request comment by phone and email.
Independent observers conclude that Srivastava Group is actually a propaganda network sponsored by Indian intelligence agencies including Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) to launch a venomous campaign against Pakistan in the world.