“Tell a lie hundred times and it becomes the truth”. This is what Pakistan Army actually believes in. The Pakistan Army has a special wing, Director-General of Inter-Services Public Relations (DGISPR) headed by an officer of the rank of Major General, whose sole aim is to spread false narrative and propaganda against India. DGISPR has a structured organization to exploit various social media platforms of Twitter, Facebook, Whatsapp and so on to proliferate misinformation and mobilize public opinion to its advantage. It is believed that ISPR has approximately 25000 Fake Social Media Accounts involved in false propaganda to mislead the world community as well as its own “awam”. The Pakistan Army is always desperately trying to make the awam believe in the myth that India is their permanent enemy and they are the only savior of the nation, a narrative on which the very existence was based since its inception in 1947. Despite losing all four wars including 1971 war where the country got divided into two parts and Bangladesh got liberated, and a number of military coups in the country, Pakistan Army somehow has managed to hold on this preception till today. But with the advent in digital domain and ever increasing transparency, it has become increasingly difficult for them to keep this false perception of “savior of the nation” intact. Thus the Pakistan army was left with no other option but to switch to a fifth dimension of warfare – the information warfare.
The Hashtag Warfare
In order to spread lies and misguided news at different levels from their 25,000 fake accounts, ISPR has created a number of groups such as :
#TeamInsafiansPowerOfficial, #TeamInsaaf, #TeamIK, #Team_OfficialPakistan, #TeamPakZindabad and, #PakistanCyberForce to name a few. These groups have several fake accounts operating them. Apart from these, there are several other small groups that are created temporarily for specific event or activity. A little light is thrown on the themes and modus operandi of these groups:-
- The first group is #TeamInsafiansPowerOfficial, operating the handle “@InsafiansPower1” whose task is to deface Indian Army and Government of India and spreads # which promotes Pakistan Army and Imran khan in a good light. The team leader of the group is Faisal Khan “@Faisal__kp1”. They consider themselves to be working for the PTI and Imran Khan.
- The second team #TeamInsaaf promotes lies on Kashmir and other parts of India. The CEO of this group is a Pakistani national Jia Barish, who is a social media expert. He considers himself a worker of the PTI party.
- The third group is #TeamIK. This group is considered to be the most powerful group of Pakistan Army, DG ISPR, possibly having more than 15,000 fake accounts in this group. The head of this group is Farhan Virk and the administrator is Usman Malik who is also a follower of ‘Major General Asif Gafoor’ who usually starts the # topics on Twitter at the behest of ISPR.
- The fourth group is #Team_OfficialPakistan. This team is a defender and supporter of Pak Army ISPR and the biggest team of Pakistan which is involved in spreading propaganda against IA. The team head is Ziddi Bloch and propaganda is mainly on the hashtags #FreeKashmir, #FreeKhalistan, #FreeNagaLand, #FreeAssam. There is a possibility of more than 10,000 fake accounts within this group. They all call themselves 5th Generation Soldiers for Pakistan and ISPR.
- The fifth group is #TeamPakZindabad. The group has recently been created yet their task is to spread lies and propaganda against India by exploiting WhatsApp.
- Lastly, the sixth group is #PakistanCyberForce “@PCF_Official”. “We are countering the Indian narrative through social media, we are countering the enemies of Pakistan”, is what the team head of Pakistan Cyber Force wrote. Claiming to play a wider role on information warfare in Cyber Domain between the nuclear-armed foes, the group has more than 7,000 followers.
In a report Pakistan Army denies its any linkages with Pakistan Cyber Force, claimg the group is made up of volunteers. But analysts say that such cyber armies work directly either for Pakistan’s military or civilian state organizations, acting as de facto proxies or militias in the online battlefields.
With the rapidly increasing technological advancements providing more and more cyber transparency and media glare, one must see how much can Pakistan Army succeed in keeping its innocent and gullible “awam” from reality. How long will Pakistan be able to suppress the voice of truth and how long can is maintain this “false” good image for itself. All the citizens of Pakistan know about the atrocities of the Pakistan Army and the role of ISPR. Many senior journalists from Pakistan have also given a strong response against this authoritarian dictatorship. This online battle of political and ideological narratives is one that Pakistan’s military believes it must win at all costs, but as they say, in the end, the truth shall prevail.
09 Oct 2019/Wednesday Written by: Anwar