F. Z. Khan
The ‘bombshell’ by EU Disinfo Lab at the year-end 2020 shows an incredible ecosystem that goes far beyond the ‘disinformation’ alone. This is not just “fake news” or “fake transmitters”, but a long and complete influence operation involving a nebula of media, NGOs and think tanks. It exposes various names of Pakistani individuals, with Hussain Haqqani (HH) on top, who are seemingly hired by the Indian intelligence for anti-Pakistan, anti-Pakistan Army and anti-CPEC propaganda through print or electronic as well as social media like Facebook, Twitter and other outlets.
The EU Disinfo report “Indian Leaks” specifically mentions HH and his interview to ANI where he is shown defending “Free Balochistan”, “Pashtun Genocide” and “Sindhudesh” propaganda posters by Srivastava Group, at Geneva. Page 49 of the Leaks mentions HH giving this interview to ANI on anti-Pakistan propaganda posters in Geneva, Switzerland, during a UNHRC meeting, while page 50 mentions how HH’s interview was amplified by the Indian media’s propaganda machine for larger audiences by Business Standard and Outlook India to spread it to even wider global audiences. Page 6 and 89 mention how ANI, that HH was giving interview to, is linked to the Indian state and Intelligence R&AW operatives and how this propaganda network spanned a 15-year period in 116 countries. Similarly, p.26 of the report mentions how “Free Balochistan” posters, which HH was demanding in ANI interview, were actually organized and posted by the Srivastava Group that runs the entire disinformation campaign.
The enitre report of EU Disinfo Lab actually mentions by name Hussain Haqqani and the shady Indian-financed ‘fake’ think-tanks with the name of EFSAS and SADF. All three have links, according to the report, with Srivastava Group that has been running the entire propaganda operation against Pakistan for the last 15 years. EFSAS member Yoana Barakova has been attending SAATH Forum’s conferences in UK and EFSAS has been widely coordinating with SAATH Forum to organize propaganda against Pakistan, Pakistan Army and the CPEC project in order to convince western policymakers for the benefit of Indian influence. Likewise, SADF, another Indian financed fake think-tank and a “partner” of EFSAS, is linked to Srivastava Group. It also produces an extensive amount of anti-Pakistan, anti-Army and anti-CPEC propaganda material.
Though the SAATH Forum of HH is now denying its links with EFSAS, yet it posted its own participation at the second SAATH Forum conference held in London UK on 16 October 2017 on its website https://www.efsas.org/announcements/2017/10/16/efsas-participates-in-international-conference-in-london,-organized-by-saath/. EFSAS sent Yoana Barakova to attend the SAATH Forum conference held in UK on 16 October 2017. Yoana Barakova, mentioned by name in the EU Disinfo Lab report as an Indian sponsored propagandist, is seen with Hussain Haqqani posted by EFSAS website https://www.efsas.or/events/conferences/saath-forum.-london-october-2017/.
A month before that, HH hosted the entire propaganda gang from EFSAS for “breakfast” in Geneva including Junaid Qureshi, the Director of EFSAS and son of RAW operative, who hijacked an aeroplane in 1971 on 25 September 2017. https://www.efsas.org/events/sessions-of-unhrc/breakfast-with-mr.-haqqani/. Even before that, EFSAS team was again hosted by SAATH Forum’s Hussain Haqqani on 24 September 2017 including Junaid Qureshi and Yoana Barakova mentioned by name in the report by EU Disinfo Lab report. https://www.efsas.or/announcements/2017/09/25/mr.-hussain-haqqani-hosts-efsas-team-for-breakfast-in-geneva/.
Not only the report has established links between Indian propaganda and shady NGOs set up in Geneva, Brussels, London, Canada, etc as part of an influence operation against Pakistan, but the report also sheds light on SAATH Forum’s links to this network. This brings us to SAATH Forum’s so called activists who are also linked to Indian propaganda machine, frequently writing anti-Pakistan reports for Indian media, appearing on Indian channels spewing propaganda against Pakistan, its Army and CPEC through spreading fake news.
Top of the list is Dr Mohammad Taqi who is medical doctor by profession, working at a hospital in Florida, but on the sidelines, he is the founder of SAATH Forum. He frequently writes anti-Pakistan propaganda articles for the Indian propaganda machine. Another key propagandist is Taha Siddiqui who is media manager for SAATH Forum. He runs fake news organizations “South Asia Press” and “Safe News Rooms Organization”. He is also associated with Indian media group ANI and Geneva based fake rights organization “Baloch Human Rights Council”. Eminent among those working for Indians is Gul Bukhari, another member of SAATH Forum, who routinely writes anti-Pakistan and anti-Army articles for the Indian media. She is considered a vocal mouthpiece for the Indian lobbying attempts against Pakistan, often tagging FATF on social media to get Pakistan blacklisted.
Waqas Goraya is another anti-Pakistan propagandist, who is member of SAATH Forum and whose full time job is to spew anti-Pakistan and anti-Army venom, on social media. Lately, these SAATH Forum members have admitted to being online trolls, fake news peddlers and propagandists, sponsored and financed by Indian government and its intelligence agencies. Another SAATH forum and Srivastava Group member is Nabi Bakhsh Baloch of the so-called US chapter of separatist “Baloch National Movement”. He does anti-Pakistan propaganda in Geneva at the UNHRC meeting on behalf of Srivastava Group, as mentioned by the EU Disinfo Lab report. Another person, Lakhu Lakhani, is from World Sindhi Congress. He is the one giving interviews to Indian media propaganda agency ANI and is also a member of SAATH Forum.
Another SAATH member Senge Sering, linked with Srivastava Group, organizes conferences and anti-Pakistan propaganda through ANI news agency. The “Institute of Gilgit-Baltistan Studies”, specifically named in the EU Disinfo Lab report, is part of the elaborate disinformation network headed by Srivastava Group that has used the name of Louis Shon considered to be a “Grandfather of International Human Rights Law.” The head of “Institute of Gilgit-Baltistan Studies”, Senge Sering is based in Washington DC, and is himself a member of HH’s SAATH Forum. He attended the first conference by SAATH Forum as mentioned by a Hindustan Times news report.
One is not sure whether our newspapers would be courageous enough to come up with publishing the EU report, comments and editorials on it, because the names of some Pakistanis have been mentioned, but this is part of the “Indian Leaks” by EU which hasn’t minced any words while clearly naming and identifying them for this dirty business of propaganda against Pakistan and its armed forces. This also indicates that Pakistan is facing an undeclared war by the enemy, ever since it failed to cow down Islamabad by its massive 10-month-long buildup of army on the eastern border. The conclusion was that the Indian army cannot confront and defeat Pakistan head-on in the battlefield, the only way to “teach Pakistan a lesson” is to weaken it from within, through hybrid, cyber and fifth generation war, propaganda warfare and by sowing seeds of hatred within its society.
The tentacles of it were spread to other European countries and thank God the EU has daringly done a very good job by identifying it through Disinfo Lab, obviously because of the realization that the saner elements within the European society abhor spread of hatred falsely and purposefully. Why its soil is being used for a long time, the world must take a serious notice of.
(The writer is freelance columnist from Islamabad)