In the post-truth contemporary world, lies become the truth. Lies are often designed to sound truthful with more dignified terms like advertising, spinning, propaganda and marketing in order to make a living from these lies. Lies may vary from a minimal form of deception to big enough that they involve a complete shift of events to another reality.
For instance, the Iraq war was based on spin doctrine where a hundred thousand people died and dislocated just due to misinformation about the presence of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD). In the recent day world, it is really difficult to skim reality. The world is being openly misled on the basis of misinformation. It is important to understand that a liar ironically honours the truth by persuading to an alternative narrative, however; the post-truth culture does not let the truth find any safe haven. Lie undermines a specific reality; post-truth attempts to topple a reality itself. German Nazi Politician Joseph Goebbels has also maintained the same idea, “Repeat a lie often enough and it becomes the truth.”
Even being a quite murky concept, post-truth is more dangerous to society. It declares that truth is no longer needed and has become an obsolete concept. Today, the concept of fifth-generation warfare is all based on the same concept. Unfortunately, India has adopted the same culture against its long-troubled neighbour, Pakistan to achieve desired objectives.
An independent Brussels based non-profit organization, EU DisinfoLab has recently revealed another level of treachery from India in the shape of pro-Indian campaigns to influence the authority of the EU and UN. It is apparent from the preliminary report published in 2019 followed by an investigation in December 2020 that India is not only supporting the geopolitical interests of its own nation but also producing and endorsing false information against Pakistan to isolate and malign the image of the country through fake journalists, +750 fake media outlets in 116 countries, +550 website domain names, undercover think tanks and +10 fake NGOs officially recognized to the UN Human Rights Council. The investigation has exposed the depth of the propaganda based on 15 years old sustained coordinated Indian efforts since 2005 to produce and amplifying content in order to influence the policymakers sitting at EU and UN.
The first investigation of EU DisinfoLab published in October 2019 found that EP Today was a fake magazine, active since 2006 in Brussels and widely thought to be associated with the Members of European Parliament (MEPs). The investigation found out that MEPs could only share particular views serving Indian interests through this magazine. Other fake media portals like Times of Geneva, New Delhi Times and North Korea Times as emphasized in the report produce content in written as well as video form which is further re-used by NGOs and disseminated globally by press agencies like 4 News Agency as well as Asian News International (ANI). ANI remains an active press agency to date that widely covers the undertakings of zombie NGOs and dubious media outlets according to the investigation of EU DisinfoLab. The Srivastava Group and Indian stakeholders are thought to be the masterminds behind all these suspicious activities of reproducing and republishing negative content against Pakistan directly from Russia Today and Voice of America.
“Indian Chronicles” as the report titled further exposed not only the revival of dead media outlets, think tanks, NGOs but also dead people like Professor Louis B. Sohn. For instance, the report highlighted the case of a US-based NGO of the Commission to Study the Organization of Peace (CSOP) officially recognized by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC). In the late 1970s, the NGO had become inactive. However, it has not only been resurrected but the late Louis B. Sohn is listed as participating in a meeting conducted by UN Human Rights Council in 2007 as well as attending an event that was organized in 2011 in Washington D.C. by “Friends of Gilgit- Baltistan” despite the fact that Louis B. Sohn had passed away back in 2006. The whole scenario can better demonstrate the level of propaganda exposed through the report of EU DisinfoLab.
Additionally, the investigation highlights how the activities are orchestrating via informal groups like Baloch Forum, Friends of Gilgit- Baltistan and the South Asia Peace Forum. It is also enclosed how the NGOs and the organizations created by Indian stakeholders have set the details with the European Parliamentarians while having a visit at Kashmir valley last year to project development and efforts towards normality. The report underscored other organizations like SADF, Baluchistan House, WESTT and the ICIRC that have been contributed a lot towards Indian lobbying while defaming Pakistan across Geneva. For instance, the study identifies how Baluchistan House is famous for the distribution and propagation of free Baluchistan movements across Geneva.
The scenario exposed by ‘Indian Chronicles’ goes back decades. Back in 1971 when Pakistan lost its eastern wing, it was all due to the well- crafted Mukti Bahini Movement which was absolutely based on disinformation warfare tactics launched by India to abuse the political fault lines in the country. The development was also proclaimed by then the Indian Prime Minister Indira Gandhi on the floor of the Parliament when she spits her deep-rooted sense of hatred in a way that they have taken revenge for thousand years of slavery. The war has not stopped to date and continued based on propaganda and illusions. This is the main reason why Pakistan is struggling to get out of the grey list of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) for a long.  India has possessed a strong hold on social media while influencing Pakistan’s print and online media as well. The dependence of Pakistan upon foreign satellites for transmission and programming is another point where the foreign community may interfere and hit Pakistan’s integrity.
In conclusion, it is noted that fifth-generation warfare is all about using a non-lethal weapon to subdue an adversary. It is just a click of a thumb than triggering a lethal. EU DisinfoLab came up with a historical discovery that made it clear that fake knowledge is more dangerous than ignorance as it directly hits the minds of the people. Unfortunately, there is no global strategy yet to deal with disinformation. However, societies need to have some regulatory control over information shared and disseminated like China for broader national interests. To control the digital ecosystem, it is also the collective responsibility of the international institutions and global think tanks to put pressure on major opinion leaders to meet the post-truth era as the game is deadly.
In addition, it is also significant to acknowledge that responsible states always perceive things before time. Narratives are important to build popular support and common directions. Polarized and fragmented societies are more vulnerable to abuse. Keeping in view the case of Pakistan, unfortunately, religion has divided us rather than being integrated. Armed forces have rather become a liability due to the fact of being a security state. With a weak economy, a country does not even dare to think of a conflict. In this regard, perception management and well- informed citizenry are very much required. Pakistani diaspora can also make a difference in narrative building. Pakistani Chairs/ posts that are still unmanned or either politicized need to be fulfilled at the earliest as these are very important exponents for Pakistan’s soft power. Ministry of Information and Technology, conventional deterrent policies and intelligence networks need to be upgraded to deal with covert operations like hackers’ attacks on government websites in the wake of fifth-generation warfare. Syllabi need to be improved and upgraded to get ready a major chunk of specialists in the coming years. At the end of the day, consistency and proactive reactions are very much required in all cases.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy and position of Regional Rapport.
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Nadia Umair has done Mphil in Pakistan Studies from Pakistan Study Centre, University of the Punjab, Lahore. She is working as an Internee in the Institute of Regional Studies Islamabad Pakistan. Her areas of interest are Bangladesh and other SAARC countries.