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Indian news agency and business group behind anti-Pakistan propaganda

Network uses 'fake media', dubious NGOs to damage Pakistan's image

SAMAA | - Posted: Dec 9, 2020 | Last Updated: 10 months ago
SAMAA |
Posted: Dec 9, 2020 | Last Updated: 10 months ago

This photo illustration shows an Indian newspaper vendor reading a newspaper with a full back page advertisement from WhatsApp intended to counter fake information, in New Delhi on July 10, 2018. (File photo: AFP)

The Asian News International (ANI), an Indian news agency, extensively covers anti-Pakistan activities of “dubious” NGOs created by India’s Srivastava business group in Geneva and often quotes articles and op-eds from fake media outlets, a report by EU Disinfo Lab revealed Wednesday.

The report India Chronicles issued by the EU Disinfo Lab, an independent EU-focused NGO which monitors disinformation online, revealed that it has uncovered an entire network of coordinated UN-accredited NGOs that promotes Indian interests and criticises Pakistan in Geneva.

“We could tie at least 10 of them directly to the Srivastava family with several other dubious NGOs pushing the same message,” the investigation report prepared by four researchers said. It said that the UN-accredited NGOs work in coordination with non-accredited thinktanks and minority rights NGOs in Brussels and Geneva.

“Several of them like the European Organization for Pakistani Minorities (EOPM), Baluchistan House and the South Asia Democratic Forum were directly but opaquely created by the Srivastava group,” read the report. “The organisations created by the Srivastava Group in Brussels organised trips for Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to Kashmir, Bangladesh and the Maldives.”

The Srivastava Group’s name had also appeared in another report of EU Disinfo Lab last year. It was identified as the main actor behind at least 265 “coordinated fake local media outlets” in more than 65 countries that were designed to influence the EU and UN by repeatedly criticising Pakistan.

On its website the Srivastava Group identifies itself as “one of the fastest growing business houses in the country (India) with interests in natural resources, clean energy, airspace, consulting services, healthcare, print media and publishing”.

The actors behind the propaganda campaign against Pakistan, according to the report, created at least three informal groups in the European Parliament identified as South Asia Peace Forum, Baloch Forum and Friends of Gilgit-Baltistan. These groups have organised several press conferences and events within and in front of the European Parliament.

Authorities in Pakistan have accused India several times of running a campaign against Pakistan to damage its international image.

Last week, Pakistani military’s spokesperson Major General Babar Iftikhar in an interview with Global Village Space had termed misinformation campaign against Pakistan on social media as a major challenge.

He had said that India was trying to destabilise the country through fifth-generation warfare.

ANI: the India news agency that disseminates propaganda against Pakistan

The research at EU Disinfo Lab has identified EU Chronicle, a new fake media with fake journalists supposedly covering European affairs, as an outlet which gives Members of European Parliament to publish pro-India articles.

“In less than 6 months of existence, already 11 MEPs, most of them already involved with EP Today, have written or endorsed op-eds at a remarkably high pace for EU Chronicle,” read the report.

EP Today, which was closed after publication of EU Disinfo Lab’s report last year, had actively published articles related to minorities in Pakistan as well as India-related matters and it, too, was being managed by India’s Srivastava Group.

The articles published by the EU Chronicle gained “valuable coverage” after ANI, an Indian press agency, repackaged its articles and op-eds as genuine articles from “independent media EU Chronicle”.

The names EU-Chronicle (eu-chronicle.eu) and EU Chronicle (euchronicle.com) sound exactly the same but the latter is a fake media link and it was apparently created to deceive people into believing that it is the original.

The original, EU-Chronicle, focuses its reports on EU affairs and domestic policy of the EU member states.

Beside giving space to the articles and op-eds published by the “fake media”, the ANI, according to EU Disinfo Lab’s report, extensively covers the activities of dubious NGOs in Geneva.

“The coverage – and often distortion – by ANI of the content produced in Brussels and Geneva led us to the Big News Network and World News Network, an entire network of 500+ fake local media in 95 countries that helped reproduced negative iterations about Pakistan (or China),” the report said while explaining the role of Indian press agency’s in anti-Pakistan propaganda.

The aim behind the creation of fake media, said the report, is to multiply the repetition of online negative content about countries in conflict with India, in particular Pakistan, through repackaging and dissemination of op-eds and articles via the ANI.

The operation to influence EU and UN institutions, according to the report, led by the Indian Srivastava Group and amplified by ANI began in 2005 and it is ongoing.

The operation, the report revealed, is aimed at discrediting the nations in conflict with India in Asia, particularly Pakistan, but also China to a lesser extent.

According to the EU Disinfo Lab’s investigation, the operation’s long-term objective is to “reinforce pro-Indian and anti-Pakistan (and anti-Chinese) feelings in India and to internationally improve New Delhi’s perception so that the country can benefit from more support from international institutions such as the EU and the UN.

India’s Srivastava Group and the NGOs associated with it also support minority and human rights group to create European institutions support for India and against Pakistan and China.

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