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Indian policies in Afghanistan have turned out to be in shambles after the recent take over of the Taliban. This has caught the Indian policymakers off guard. The Indian media has since been trying to wage an Information war against Pakistan. It has been involved in a narrative war against Pakistan long before the recent Afghan issue. The roots of the fake news propaganda of the Indian media against Pakistan could be traced back to the inception of the latter country but this propaganda has reached its apex since the Modi government has taken the reigns of India.
The Indian media has a perennial record of blaming Pakistan for every negative thing that happens in India or the region. The recent discovery of India’s propaganda against Pakistan through EU DisinfoLab speaks volumes about the biased reporting and narrative war of India. In the recent past, the Indian media spread the news of the fake surgical strike against Pakistan by the Indian airforce. Fortunately, the international media denied the claims of India and unveiled the truth behind the fake surgical strikes.
The same has been done in the recent false claims of the Indian media about the involvement of Pakistan’s army and airforce in Panjshir to assist the Taliban by attacking the resistance forces of Panjshir. This allegation has also been refuted by reputable international media agencies. The Indian media had always been falsely blaming Pakistan over many issues without any prior fact-checking. This has always proved to be a source of chagrin for it but it never mended its ways and has been busy in doing the same.
Fear mongering, shouting to the audience, jingoism, and dramatic deliveries of the facts that were supposed to be the news are its modus operandi. This article intends to highlight the fabricated and false allegations and claims of Indian media, its role behind disturbing the peace in the region, and to examine the unfolding narrative war of the Indian media under the auspices of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP).
Pulwama Attack and the Fake News Propaganda of India
The Indian media has a record of dispelling fabricated, aggrandized, and false news propaganda against Pakistan and its other rival neighboring countries. The greed of being the first channel to break the news has forced the Indian media to ignore fact-checking on many occasions. The role of most of the Indian news anchors has always been war-mongering.
The statement of the Indian documentary filmmaker, Sanjay Kak, regarding the role of the Indian media in the aftermath of the Pulwama attack substantiates the fact that the state’s media has deviated from professional journalism and has become a warmonger. He maintains that “Every time an incident like this happens, before the government can respond before the army can respond before the military responds, the media immediately jumps the gun, asking for war.”
The Indian media started blaming Pakistan for the Pulwama attack without any prior investigation. The role of India’s media in this was also discouraged by Al-Jazeera as it stated that the state’s media has descended into unjournalistic ranting. The statements of a popular Indian anchor, Arnab Goswami of Republic TV, consisted of comments like “Pakistan needs to be punished and like you, I also want Pakistan to be punished”.
Other media personnel in India were also imitating a similar stance. This fueled the anti-Pakistan and warmongering sentiment amongst the Indian population. Rohit Chopra, an associate professor, condemned the role of the Indian media anchors and claimed that with the exception of the few, the anchors are displaying absurd and dangerous competitive jingoism.
Writing about the role of Indian media after the Pulwama attack, Mumbai-based journalist, Vaishnavi Chandrashekhar, stated that the Indian media was trading the journalistic responsibilities for tabloid hysterics after the Pulwama attack. What added to the chagrin of the Indian media was its claim that Abdul Rasheed Ghazi—a Pakistani cleric who died in 2007—was the mastermind of the Pulwama attack and he was killed by the Indian army after the Pulwama attack.
The state’s media continued to beat the war drums which resulted in a failed surgical strike by the Indian Air Force (IAF). So, it could be said that the Indian media peddled the post-Pulwama attack which resulted in the defamation of the IAF all over the world due to the loss of two aircrafts. It started glorifying this surgical strike and falsely claimed that a terror base was destroyed by the IAF and hundreds of terrorists were killed.
Pakistan agreed that her airspace was violated by the Indian jets but rebuked the claim that any terror base was destroyed or anyone was killed. The Washington Post also endorsed the fact that there were no signs of causalities in Balakot. The news outlets of India in exuberance propagated alleged footage of the surgical strike which turned out to be fake. Some fact-checkers and reputable Indian media sources discovered the fact that the alleged video was of a video game.
Pakistan’s response to the Indian intervention in Pakistan’s airspace resulted in the capture of one Indian pilot and the destruction of two Indian MiG-21 aircrafts. The media and government of India, in order to save their face, claimed that India has downed a Pakistani F-16 fighter jet. The Indian media displayed fake pictures of the allegedly downed Pakistani F-16 which turned out to be the pictures of an Indian MiG. Thus, it would be cogent to say that India’s media was the major reason behind the embarrassment faced by the Indian Air Force in the post-Pulwama scenario.
EU Disinfo Lab and the Indian Chronicles
Another major propaganda drive – the Indian Chronicles – of the Indian media was discovered by the EU Disinfo Lab. According to the BBC, along with a dead professor, who was regarded as one of the fathers of the international human rights laws and several defunct organizations, 750 fake media outlets were resurrected in a 15-year vast global disinformation campaign to serve the Indian narrative against Pakistan.
The discovery of the Indian Chronicles has revealed the real face of the Indian propaganda war. The rationale of all these media outlets was to discredit Pakistan globally and to influence the decisions of the European Parliament. To conceal the human rights violations and to influence the decisions of the United Nations Human Rights Council decisions regarding the Indian atrocities in Kashmir was among the objectives of the Indian Chronicles, according to the EU Disinfo Lab.
According to some reports, the Srivastava Group of India initiated and supported the campaign while the Indian news agency ANI augmented it. The campaign officially started in 2005 and continued to work for almost 15 years. Among other purposes, the main rationale was to malign and corner Pakistan internationally. It is also said that India also used to promote content against China using these fake media outlets.
The EU Disinfo Lab investigation showed that fake news spread by India was created in Geneva, Brussels, and all around the world. ANI was then used to repackage and spread this fake news. The local media of almost 97 countries was then used to further this fake propaganda against the countries that were in conflict with India. The Indian Chronicles was also used to the Indian narrative on Indian Illegally Occupied Kashmir (IIOK).
As per reports, the Srivastava Group-backed fraudulent organizations arranged the visits of Members of European Parliament (MEPs) to IIOK. These visitors were then portrayed as the official delegations of the EU when they were not visiting on the behalf of the European Parliament.
This was done primarily to hide the Indian human rights violations in IIOK and show the wrong side of the picture to the world. These groups have also arranged press conferences and events within the EU parliament to promote their narrative. The discovery of the Indian Chronicles has revealed the real face of India and its fake news propaganda against Pakistan.
Indian Media’s Propaganda to Blight Pakistan after the Taliban Takeover
After the recent takeover by the Taliban and the fight between them and the resistance forces in the recently fallen Panjshir Valley, the Indian media and policymakers went mad and tried to portray that Pakistan is the reason behind the victory of the Taliban against the western allies. The Indian media churned out scores of misinformation against Pakistan’s role in Afghanistan but all that only embarrassed the Indian media itself.
Recently, Indian media quoted Ahmed Massoud’s Twitter account, claiming that the resistance forces have shot down a Pakistani fighter jet in the Panjshir valley. Several journalists from all around the world ridiculed India on this as the account that Indian media was showing was fake. But the Indian media’s propaganda did not stop here and it also showed the pictures of the alleged Pakistani plane which was actually the picture of the US plane which was flying over the Wales valleys.
Saba Naqvi, an Indian Journalist, while commenting on this fake news, tweeted that the “defining story of the day confirms that clowns run these channels. But they are dangerous clowns.” Michael Kugelman, a senior associate for South Asia at the Wilson Center, the deputy director of the Asia Program and leading specialist on Afghanistan, Pakistan, and India and their relations with the US, also wrote on Twitter that “This may sound zany for the uninitiated and yet it is not the first time. It happened during the Balakot crisis too, back in 2019.”
This demonstrates how the Indian media is known internationally. The Pakistan-phobia has blinded the Indian media so much that they even showed the video footage of the video game “Arma 3” to support their claim of the Pakistan Army’s involvement in the Panjshir conflict in support of the Taliban.
Inspired by the Indian media, an Afghan journalist, Noor Qureshi also shared the picture of a Pakistani MNA (Member of the National Assembly) and claimed him to be Colonel Adil who has been killed during the war in the Panjshir Valley in Afghanistan. This delineates how the Indian policymakers and their Afghan allies are in shock due to the failure of Indian policy and investment in Afghanistan.
The Indian generals did not want to be left behind in the race to blemish Pakistan by playing their part in this narrative war. A former Indian Army officer, Major General GD Bakshi, who was referred to be the shrillest warmonger in the Indian media in an article published in The Print, also shared the responsibility of propagating fake news and posted a tweet claiming that the Pakistan Army had suffered very heavy causalities in Panjshir Valley on the pictures of Pakistani actors dressed in army uniform.
Another retired major general of the Indian Army, Harsha Kakar, took the lead and called Pakistan’s leadership shameful for not honoring its dead while tweeting about the same pictures of the very actors. This landed both of them in the middle of the controversy and both were being mocked by people from all around the world for their non-sense Pakistan-phobic tweets. The breaking news by the Indian media about capturing a spy pigeon by the Indian security forces at the India-Pakistan border, in the past, has also been a source of ridicule of the Indian media.
Implications for India
All this role of the Indian media and Indian policymakers has just revealed the true image of India. All this fake news campaign by India has led to the chagrin of its media and has rose many questions on its credibility. The warmongering character of the Indian media personnel is one of the major reasons behind the disturbing peace of the region as their media campaign led to peddle the post-Pulwama events.
The warmongering and jingoist journalism by the Indian media anchors could also be inimical to the peace and stability of India as their rhetoric and propaganda have aggravated anti-Muslim sentiment among the Hindus in the country under the auspices of the Modi government. The anti-Pakistan role and campaign of the Indian media and policymakers show that the Indian officials are ensnared in Pakistan-phobia which leads them to adopt imprudent ways.
Such policies have resulted in the embarrassment of the Indian media myriad of times internationally but blinded by the hatred towards Pakistan, it continues to follow the same path. Due to this attitude, it has lost its credibility and this can cost India a lot in the future with regard to its policy towards its neighbors and its designs to be the regional hegemon. The anti-Taliban campaign of the Indian media will further bitter the relations between India and the newly established Taliban government. The Indian media’s incautious reporting will only serve its foes as it will unite the rivals of India.
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