Despite the Abrogation of Article 370 two years ago, Pakistan’s Kashmir Propaganda Persists
The relations between India and Pakistan have always been contradictory, as both the countries have actively participated in misguiding and manipulating global media against one another. Both of them are using cyberwarfare capabilities including misinformation, propaganda, developing advanced tools that help in spying and stealing information to achieve the strategic goals in the South Asian continent.
Pakistan’s Kashmir propaganda is one good example of how the incidents of disinformation are heightened during the upcoming of any specific event. Post the Abrogation of Article 370 in Kashmir, Pakistan tried best to strike a chord with the masses on both sides of LoC. It even tried to sell its own narrative of the Kashmir issue to the international community by running disinformation campaigns against India.
It was on August 5, 2019, when the Indian Prime Minister revoked the special status of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K) and divided it into two Union Territories. It was a historic decision for the region that enjoyed special rights since independence. The aim behind was to eliminate threat of terror, rehabilitation of Kashmiri Pandits, industrial promotion, and domicile certificates.
Even though the last two years have seen promotion of peace and democracy in J&K, Pakistan has not yet stopped the Kashmir propaganda. Despite India’s objectives, Pakistan portrayed the former as an ‘illegal occupier’ of J&K by launching wide Kashmir disinformation campaign. It called Article 370 abrogation as “illegal” and alleging that it “violates” UNSC and UNGA resolutions on Kashmir. The country’s argument that Article 370 abrogation goes against Shimla Agreement, got the UN Secretary-General’s attention.
In its anti-India narrative, Pakistan even talked about an ultimate and a two-stage process to neutralise its over-expressive stance on the Kashmir propaganda. The aim has always been to propagatise Kashmir with added weapon of disinformation, use of positive hashtags, causing the existing situation inflammable.
#Social media postings using edited pictures, mixed videos with edited voiceovers claiming mass devastation in Kashmir, hashtags like “redkashmir, KashmiriLivesMatter, IIOJK Under Seize”, started circulating from Indonesia, Vigur, and Rohingyas. #ThanksJinnah, #ExposeIndia, #ShameOnIndia were strategies deployed by Pakistan to prove themselves to be a better nation than India.
History shows that India too has been preparing itself to counter Pakistan’s duplicity on J&K for a long time now. It used diplomatic offensive and private firms’ help to unmask the Pakistan-led anti-India agenda. In December, a report by EU DisinfoLab exposed a 15-year-old operation run by an Indian entity that targeted the EU and UN to serve Indian interests.
The report termed as Indian Chronicles stated the use of hundreds of fake media outlets and the identity of a dead professor to target Pakistan. India’s Srivastava Group got the center stage as a shadowy business conglomerate and Asian News International (ANI), India’s largest video news agency and a partner of Reuters news agency, as the prime players of the operation.
The Indian firm even arranged a visit of far-right Members of the European Parliament to the Indian-administered Kashmir after it was stripped of its special status and put under a security and communications lockdown.
As a result, Pakistan even called for the UN and UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to immediately investigate and de-list fake NGOs created by India to malign Pakistan. Recently, it welcomed the UN’s reiteration that its position on Indian occupied Kashmir remained unchanged and it continued to see the valley as disputed territory.
Over time, the social media disinformation campaigns have been recognised as hybrid threats that have threatened the stability of the global system. The actors engaged in this malicious activity are easily manipulating the global audience through fake news organisations and bogus think tanks. There is no limit to what cyberwarfare promoting capabilities both India and Pakistan may reveal in the future.