Two of 265 India-Linked Anti-Pakistan Fake News Sites Located in Pakistan

Researchers at Europe's Disinfo Lab have uncovered a network of 265 online news sites in 65 countries, including Pakistan, using the names and brands of defunct newspapers from the 20th century to push anti-Pakistan media coverage inside the regular news cycle. Two of these sites are located in Pakistani cities of Karachi and Lahore, according to Disinfo Lab's report. They are linked to social media accounts.  These two sites were spewing disinformation on Pakistan using the names of the long defunct Socialist Weekly (Karachi) and Khalsa Akhbar (Lahore), according to Pakistani researchers.  The real Karachi-based Urdu language Socialist Weekly and Lahore-based Punjabi language Khalsa Akhbar ceased publishing decades ago, long before the advent of online publishing.


Two of 265 Anti-Pakistan Websites in Pakistan. Source: EU Disinfo Lab

The fake news sites were aimed at reinforcing the legitimacy of anti-Pakistan NGOs by providing linkable press materials to reinforce an anti-Pakistan agenda. Two of these anti-Pakistan NGOs named by Disinfo Lab are European Organization for Pakistani Minorities (EOPM), and Pakistani Women’s Human Rights Organization.

Anti-Pakistan Fake News Network Managed By Indians

EU DisinfoLab found that this anti-Pakistan campaign is managed by Indian stakeholders, with ties to a large network of think tanks, NGOs, and companies from the Srivastava Group. they also discovered that the IP address of the Srivastava Group is also home to the obscure online media “New Delhi Times” and the International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies (IINS), which are all based at the same address in New Delhi, India.

Here are some of EU Disinfo Lab findings from these anti-Pakistan websites:

1. Most of them are named after an extinct local newspaper or spoof real media outlets.

2. They republish content from several news agencies (KCNA, Voice of America, Interfax).

3. Coverage of the same Indian-related demonstrations and events;

4. Republications of anti-Pakistan content from the described Indian network (including EP Today, 4NewsAgency, Times Of Geneva, New Delhi Times).

5. Most websites have a Twitter account as well.

But why have they created these fake media outlets? Disinfo Lab's analysis of the content and how it is shared found several ostensible reason for it:

1. Influence international institutions and elected representatives with coverage of specific events and demonstrations.

2. Provide NGOs with useful press material to reinforce their credibility and thus be impactful.

3. Add several layers of media outlets that quote and republish one another, making it harder for the reader to trace the manipulation, and in turn (sometimes) offer a “mirage” of international support.

4. Influence public perceptions on Pakistan by multiplying iterations of the same content available on search engines.

EU Dininfo Lab has shown that India's disinformation campaign goes well beyond planted stories in Indian media; it extends across 65 countries, including Pakistan, with a network of 265 online news sites. It appears that Indian intelligence agencies have stepped up their 5th generation warfare against Pakistan.

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Comments

Riaz Haq said…
We Can Make Any Message We Want Go Viral, Real or Fake, says #Modi’s crony #AmitShah . #BJP president Amit Shah boasted how the party workers were capable of spreading any message among people, regardless of whether it is ‘true or false’. #India #Hindutva

https://www.thequint.com/news/politics/amit-shah-real-fake-can-make-messages-viral

Addressing the Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) social media volunteers in Kota, Rajasthan, BJP president Amit Shah boasted how the party workers were capable of spreading any message among people, regardless of whether it is ‘true or false’.

Boasting about the party’s WhatsApp group with over 32 lakh people, Shah recounted how a party worker sent out a fake message claiming Akhilesh Yadav had slapped father Mulayam Yadav. “There was no truth to this message, but it went viral,” he said, adding the caveat that he didn’t think this was the right approach, but reiterating that the party workers are “capable of delivering any message to the public.”

You can fast forward the video to 26:30 to listen to Shah’s exact words–

Hum jo chaahein woh sandesh janta tak pahuncha saktey hain, chaahe khatta ho ya meetha ho, sacha ho ya jhoota ho. Yeh kaam kar sakte hain, magar woh is liye ho paaya, hum 32 lakh WhatsApp ka ek group bana ke khade the. Tab jaakar yeh phelne ka kaam hua (We can spread any message we want, whether it is true false. We were able to do it because we have 32 lakh people on our WhatsApp group. This is how we make things go viral.)

Riaz Haq said…
Two #Indian citizens living in #Germany have been found guilty of spying on #Kashmiris and #Sikhs for #India's intelligence agency #RAW. #Modi #BJP #Hindutva https://p.dw.com/p/3UfRU?maca=en-Twitter-sharing Germany: Indian couple convicted of spying for Delhi

A German court on Thursday convicted an Indian married couple of spying on Kashmiri and Sikh groups in Germany on behalf of India's foreign intelligence service.

The court in Frankfurt found Manmohan S., 50, and his wife, Kanwal Jit K., 51, guilty of handing information on such groups to India's Research and Analysis Wing (RAW).

Their last names are not given in accordance with German privacy laws.

Manmohan S. was handed a one-and-a-half-year suspended jail sentence for illegal espionage activities, while Kanwal Jit K. received a fine equivalent to 180 days of income for aiding and abetting such activities.

Separatism fears

The husband's espionage activities are said to have begun in January 2015, with his wife joining him in collecting intelligence from July 2017. The couple are reported to have received €7,200 ($7,974) from RAW for their services.

During the trial, the two eventually confessed to regular meetings with a RAW handling officer to hand over information.

Delhi has in the past expressed concern that Sikhs, particularly those living in the diaspora could harbor hostility to the Indian state. It is also worried that the Kashmiri separatist movement could be strengthened from abroad.

Germany has the third largest community of Sikhs in Europe after Britain and Italy, according to the German religious rights group REMID, with between 10,000 and 20,000 adherents of the religion living in the country.
Riaz Haq said…
#BJP resorts to #fake 'lonely woman' on Twitter to drum up support for #CAA. #AmitShah asking people to give missed calls to show support for the Citizenship Amendment Act — is now being shared by many Twitter accounts. #Modi #fakenews #Hindutva https://www.huffingtonpost.in/entry/bjp-lonely-woman-twitter-caa-support_in_5e10660cc5b6b5a713ba970b?ncid=other_twitter_cooo9wqtham&utm_campaign=share_twitter


The Narendra Modi government has made clear that it won’t “budge an inch” on the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) amid non-stop protests across the country against the discriminatory law.

The BJP has gone to many lengths to get support for the CAA, including getting Jaggi Vasudev, a self-styled guru, to speak for it and dismiss the protests. It has set up a phone number asking people to give missed calls to support the CAA. And now, several accounts on Twitter are sharing said phone number, pretending to be a lonely, bored women asking people to call the number. Yep, you read that right.

Not just that, there are other Twitter accounts that claim you will get a free Netflix subscription for 6 months if you call the number. There are others who are claiming pepple need to urgently call them on the number.

This BJP ploy, to “show” numbers in support of the CAA, was pointed out by Twitter user @samjawed65 who took screenshots of all the people claiming to be lonely and asking people to call this BJP number.

A quick look on Twitter reveals that this particular number has been tweeted out by top leaders of the BJP including Amit Shah and BJP MP Shobha Karandlaje. The Karnataka BJP Twitter handle also shared this number.


Riaz Haq said…
Farewell to #Pakistan's #socialmedia celebrity Maj Gen Asif Ghafoor
@peaceforchange. He sought to control the #narrative for the world's 6th largest army earning him grudging praise from his #Indian army counterpart Retd Gen Rajesh Pant. #warfare


https://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-51148762#

It is not often a military spokesperson doubles as a national celebrity, about whom internet memes are made and whose name trends on Twitter.

But Pakistan's Maj-Gen Asif Ghafoor is one such individual. As he leaves his post after three headline-grabbing years, praise and criticism have poured in in equal measure.

The transfer was expected but it came days after an unseemly social media spat with TV anchor Sana Bucha, which raised eyebrows about his conduct.

Skip Twitter post by @peaceforchange

Asif Ghafoor

@peaceforchange
Thanks for your love & support. Stay strong, continue doing your bit for Pakistan.Stay blessed
آپکی محبت اورحمایت کاشکریہ۔ مضبوط رہتے ہوۓ پاکستان کے لئے اپنا کام جاری رکھیں۔ Stay blessed.

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Skip Twitter post by @TalatHussain12

Syed Talat Hussain

@TalatHussain12
Removal of Gen Asif Ghafoor as DGISPR is an important step to refashion the Army’s image in COAS Bajwa’s second term. The x DG had turned ISPR into Ghafoor-PR with his frivolous pursuits, outlandish ideas, and obsessive self projection.

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His successor will find the departing director-general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) quite an act to follow. Gen Ghafoor's late-night musings on Twitter provided plenty of controversy and copious fodder for Pakistan's twitterati.

Subjects for discussion could appear random - he irked India by praising Bollywood actress Deepika Padukone for attending anti-government protests in Delhi. But he could just as easily post about burn ointment, butchers or stray dogs.

Combative tweets from his personal account in the past few days showed how he sought to control the narrative for the world's sixth largest army.

The general frequently sparred with retired Indian military officials or journalists on Twitter; at other times he would "troll" Pakistani journalists and individuals who criticised the country's military.

Earlier this week he locked horns with Sana Bucha after she tweeted criticising the military. Ms Bucha retaliated by reminding him "to show some class" but that was met with a thinly veiled warning that she should "make a choice".

Skip Twitter post by @sanabucha

Sana Bucha

@sanabucha
اپنے عہدے اور ادارے ، دونوں کا پاس رکھنے کے لئے شکریہ۔ @peaceforchange �� https://twitter.com/peaceforchange/status/1216658786007572481 …

Asif Ghafoor

@peaceforchange
Replying to @sanabucha
Not without a reason. I never initiated anything. Please see your unethical expressions which provoked response from me & fellow Pakistanis. I am deleting my yesterday’s responses only respecting journalistic ethos. You can make your choice for now & future. It’s two to tango.

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Riaz Haq said…
Yet another #socialmedia lie shared by #Modi's #Hindutva #Bhakts: Video of "failed" rocket test in #Pakistan! It is FALSE!! The video is in fact from #Russia, not Pakistan. #India #Propaganda https://www.hindustantimes.com/it-s-viral/fact-check-does-viral-video-show-failed-missile-test-in-pakistan-here-s-the-truth/story-N0wuvzx2EmofhB1gNlQ9TN.html

A dramatic video of a rocket bursting into flames moments after being launched is going viral on social media. People are sharing the clip with the claim that it shows an unsuccessful launch of Pakistan’s surface to surface short range ballistic missile Ghaznavi. The claim is false.

Many are sharing the same video with the exact caption on both Twitter and Facebook. Written in Hindi, the caption when translated reads, “13th test launch of Pakistan’s Ghaznavi missile failed. The missile that claims reaching the range of 300 kms fell down like burnt paper just at 36 kms.”

A search of the keyframes of the video revealed multiple links and most of them are shared back in 2013. One of the links, with the same video, was shared by the BBC. Turns out, the failed rocket test took place in Russia in 2013. It’s an unmanned Russian Proton-M rocket which crashed and burned after being launched at the Russian Baikonur facility in Kazakhstan. The same video reporting the incident was also shared on YouTube by The Telegraph.

Further, Inter Services Public Relations Directorate of Pakistan Armed Forces took to YouTube on January 23, 2020, to share a video of successful launch of Ghaznavi.


Riaz Haq said…
Tarek Fatah, the unrelenting #FakeNews peddler who targets #Indian #Muslims and #Pakistan regularly

POOJA CHAUDHURI 28 January, 2020 9:00 am IST

https://theprint.in/hoaxposed/tarek-fatah-the-unrelenting-fake-news-peddler-who-targets-indian-muslims-regularly/355214/

Tarak Fatah tweeted a video of Burqa-clad women dancing at a wedding, asking if it was from Shaheen Bagh. Fatah had tweeted the same video three years ago, twice.


prominent name on social media, Tarek Fatah is an active Twitter user with over 6 lakh followers. But on numerous occasions, the Pakistani-Canadian writer has been found circulating misinformation along communal lines, particularly targeting Indian Muslims. A matter of even more concern is Fatah’s failure to take down misleading tweets despite being made aware of the misinformation. In fact, in the latest spree, he took an extra effort to ensure that his followers remain misled.

Fatah tweeted a video of Burqa-clad persons dancing to a Bollywood number. He questioned – “Could someone confirm if this video is from the #CAA_NRCProtests at #ShaheenBagh or nor?” There are enough hints in the video which suggest that it does not represent protests at Shaheen Bagh against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) and the National Register of Citizens (NRC). The group is dancing around a woman dressed as a bride. Quite ironically, Fatah had tweeted the same video three years ago…twice. When he was slammed for the same, Fatah quietly took down his tweet from August 2017. However, he missed doing the same for the video tweeted earlier in May 2017.

1. Tweeted morphed image to claim Madrasa teacher portraying Islam superior to Hinduism
Last year in June, Tarek Fatah tweeted a photograph claiming that it depicts a madrasa teacher coaching his students that Islam is superior to Hinduism. He later took down the tweet, however, not before it drew numerous retweets.

The image tweeted by Fatah was morphed. In the original photograph, published by several media organisations including ANI, the blackboard has words written in Sanskrit. The teacher was giving the students a lesson on the language. Incidentally, this piece of misinformation had been debunked by Alt News just days before Fatah’s tweet.

2. False claim that a girl was assaulted for not wearing Hijab
Similar to the earlier misinformation, Fatah had claimed that a girl was hit on the head by a man who disapproved of her cycling without wearing a Hijab (archive).

Alt News found multiple Turkish reports which stated that the man had indeed assaulted the 9-year-old. However, none of the reports mentioned a lack of Hijab as the motive of the crime. The incident had gained much prominence in Turkey after the perpetrator was released from jail and referred to a mental health facility. Despite Fatah’s tweet being debunked two years ago, he is yet to take it down.

3. Tweeted video of Islamic flags being raised during Ramzan as Pakistani flags
In his latest bout, Fatah tweeted a video where bike-borne men can be seen waving green coloured flags. The Pakistani-Canadian writer claimed that the flags were of Pakistan and were raised during Ramzan in Tamil Nadu (archive).

However, the flags were not of Pakistani but were Islamic flags often used by the Muslim community in the sub-continent. Alt News’s detailed fact-check can be read here.

4. Tweeted old video to claim Muslims celebrated Congress’s victory by waving Pak flags
The “Pak flags” theory has been propagated by Fatah several times. Last year, after Congress won the assembly polls in Rajasthan, he claimed that the victory was celebrated by Muslims in the state by raising Pakistani flags. Fatah later deleted the tweet but an archived version can be accessed here.

The flags in the video were actually representative of the ‘Indian Union Muslim League’ and not Pakistan. Alt News’s fact-check can be read here.
Riaz Haq said…
Big #Tech's honeymoon with world's 2nd largest #internet #market is ending. Rules on local #data storage will hurt #India's tech growth. #Delhi's Current data protection legislation lacks people protection and gives govt a supra interest over everyone https://www.cnn.com/2020/02/26/tech/india-internet-regulation-tech-industry/index.html

In the 2010s, India's internet exploded. More than half a billion Indians came online in the 10 years to September 2019, according to the latest government data, and the country now has twice as many internet users as the entire population of the United States.

And Big Tech rushed to cash in. Facebook (FB) CEO Mark Zuckerberg and Twitter (TWTR) CEO Jack Dorsey both visited India and met the country's Prime Minister Narendra Modi, as did Google (GOOGL) CEO Sundar Pichai and Microsoft (MSFT) CEO Satya Nadella, both of whom were born and grew up in India. Nadella and Amazon's Jeff Bezos both made their second visits to the country as tech CEOs earlier this year.
All those tech giants, along with others including Uber (UBER) and Netflix (NFLX), collectively invested billions in their Indian operations, rolling out several "India-first" features and local language versions of their platforms. More billions came from their Asian peers like SoftBank (SFTBF), Tencent (TCEHY), Bytedance and Alibaba (BABA) — mostly through investments in India's biggest startups.
But India is now making changes to the rules of operating in the country that could make the next decade much tougher for those global tech firms trying to profit from its massive market. A raft of regulations in the works will affect how companies — particularly foreign ones — collect and store data, sell products online and protect their users' privacy. With growing, government-backed internet shutdowns, their basic access to their users is being cut off in many parts of the country.

In perhaps a sign of the changing times, neither Bezos nor Nadella, the latter of whom recently criticized India's controversial citizenship bill, publicly met Modi during their visits this year.

With nearly 700 million internet users and almost an equal number of people yet to come online for the first time, India is too big a market to ignore. But the tightening of restrictions on foreign tech companies and government intervention in controlling the internet are sparking concerns that the world's largest democracy is becoming increasingly China-esque.
"A heavy-handed government that wishes to use technology to surveil its own citizens or control the narrative by curtailing their free speech and expression is not interested in using technology for the good but merely to control," says Mishi Choudhary, co-founder and legal director of New York-based tech advocacy group Software Freedom Law Center. "In such scenarios comparisons with the Chinese authoritarian internet are natural."
What India does next will likely have implications for the internet far beyond its own borders.
"India's potential and opportunity are undisputed, however its attempt to artificially ringfence itself from the global digital economy is concerning," says Jeff Paine, managing director of the Asia Internet Coalition, a tech industry group whose members include Google, Facebook, Amazon and Twitter. "We hope policy makers will take a holistic and long-term view."
Riaz Haq said…
#Facebook, #Google, #Twitter Rebel Against #Pakistan’s #SocialMedia Rules. Companies pressure and lawsuits from local civil libertarian forced govt to retreat. Law still on the books, but Pakistani officials pledged this week to review the regulations. https://nyti.ms/2uF4GF0

When Pakistan’s government unveiled some of the world’s most sweeping rules on internet censorship this month, global internet companies like Facebook, Google and Twitter were expected to comply or face severe penalties — including the potential shutdown of their services.

Instead, the tech giants banded together and threatened to leave the country and its 70 million internet users in digital darkness.

Through a group called the Asia Internet Coalition, they wrote a scathing letter to Pakistan’s prime minister, Imran Khan. In it, the companies warned that “the rules as currently written would make it extremely difficult for AIC Members to make their services available to Pakistani users and businesses.”

Their public rebellion, combined with pressure and lawsuits from local civil libertarians, forced the government to retreat. The law remains on the books, but Pakistani officials pledged this week to review the regulations and undertake an “extensive and broad-based consultation process with all relevant segments of civil society and technology companies".


“Because Pakistan does not have any law of data protection, international internet firms are reluctant to comply with the rules,” said Usama Khilji, director of Bolo Bhi, an internet rights organization based in Islamabad, the country’s capital.

The standoff over Pakistan’s digital censorship law, which would give regulators the power to demand the takedown of a wide range of content, is the latest skirmish in an escalating global battle. Facebook, Google and other big tech companies, which have long made their own rules about what is allowed on their services, are increasingly tangling with national governments seeking to curtail internet content that they consider harmful, distasteful or simply a threat to their power.

India is expected to unveil new censorship guidelines any day now, including a requirement that encrypted messaging services like WhatsApp tell the government how specific messages moved within their networks. The country has also proposed a new data privacy law that would restrict the activities of tech companies while exempting the government from privacy rules.

Vietnam passed its own cybersecurity law in 2018, with similar provisions to what Pakistan passed. Singapore recently began using its rules against “fake news” to go after critics and opposition figures by forcing social networks like Facebook to either take down certain posts or add the government’s response to them.

The unified resistance by Facebook, Google, Twitter and other tech companies in Pakistan is highly unusual. Companies often protest these types of regulations, but they rarely threaten to actually leave a country. Google pulled its search engine out of China in 2010 rather than submit to government censorship of search results, but LinkedIn agreed to self-censor its content when it entered China in 2014 and Apple acceded to Chinese demands to remove apps that customers had used to bypass the country’s Great Firewall.
Riaz Haq said…
Pashtun Nationalists wet dream: Pashtun Spring: Time to redraw the boundary between Pakistan and Afghanistan
BY AHMAD SHAH KATAWAZAI, OPINION CONTRIBUTOR — https://thehill.com/opinion/international/373150-pashtun-spring-time-to-redraw-the-boundary-between-pakistan-and

Forcefully imposed by British India in 1893 over Afghan objections, the Durand Line and FATA area has turned into a hub of terrorism, insurgency and drug trafficking. People in the area proudly and publicly bear arms, sell smuggled goods and make weapons. For criminals, arms dealers, terrorist groups such as Al-Qaeda, Haqqani network and ISIS, the area has become somewhat of a safe haven. The semi-autonomous tribal region is a place where foreign jihadists, many of whom have been there for more than a decade, can take advantage of the lawlessness and benign support that Al-Qaeda and Taliban insurgents have received from Pakistan. Such activity in this location presents potentially dangerous consequences for U.S., NATO and Afghan troops in the region.

---------

Now is the time to change the status quo. This requires bold, confident decisions to address grievances of the people and redress mistakes of the past. In a May 2017 article published in The Pashtun Times, Ryszard Czarnecki, the former vice president of European Parliament, noted that “Pashtun-dominated tribal areas and portions of Pakistan that were forcefully taken away and merged into British India need to be restored to their earlier status as the sovereign territory of Afghanistan.” Indeed, it would be in the best interest of the United States, NATO and Afghanistan to redraw the Durand Line.

The Afghan government never has accepted the Durand Line as a true international border. The government and people of Afghanistan have consistently asked for the territory to be re-incorporated into Afghanistan. People who live along the Durand Line don’t consider it to be a border. They cross the border freely and, in many places, the line is unclear. Pashtun inhabitants along the line take pride in asserting their autonomy and proudly assert that their Pashtunwali traditions and tribal codes of conduct supersede the Pakistani laws and courts.

-----------------------

Ultimately, bringing stability to this region, and getting rid of Pakistani-backed insurgency, could become a model of freedom. Redrawing the Durand Line and merging the territory into Afghanistan would give the country access to international waters, providing a win from a logistical and economic perspective for the United States, NATO and Afghanistan. This would pave the way for a direct connection between Central Asia and the Middle East.
Riaz Haq said…
Ties between Al Zulfikar and Afghan President Babrak Karmal (KHAD/NDS) sour with Alamgir execution
Alamgir execution touches off a new wave of mutual recrimination between Damascus-based organisation and pro-Soviet regime of President Babrak Karmal.

https://www.indiatoday.in/magazine/neighbours/story/19840815-ties-between-al-zulfikar-and-afghan-president-babrak-karmal-sour-with-alamgir-execution-803216-1984-08-15

In 1979, months after the hanging of Bhutto, Al Zulfikar was organised on the soil of Afghanistan with active patronage from the Afghan authorities, and both Murtaza and Shahnawaz were sheltered in Kabul.

Alamgir, accompanied by Naser Jamal and Arshad Butt, all Karachi boys belonging to Al Zulfikar, hijacked the PIA Boeing on March 2, 1981 from Karachi to Kabul in what has gone down as the longest air piracy in history - nine days - following which the Pakistani authorities had to accede to the hijackers' demand of releasing 52 political prisoners, many of whom were awaiting capital punishment.

Significantly, the hijacking was not condemned by the Afghan authorities at that time even though the prisoners were released by the Pakistani authorities at their own insistence at Damascus and not in Kabul. However, relations between Al Zulfikar and the Kabul Government were getting increasingly sour since 1981 when the Afghans, nettled by Al Zulfiqar's internal squabbles on Afghan soil, began interfering with them in a big way.

Finally, Murtaza and Shahnawaz left their haven in Afghanistan and headed for Libya. The two now operate from Tripoli, the Libyan capital, and Damascus, the capital of Syria, and command a well-trained militia of about 1,500 men. Even Alamgir did not enter Afghanistan for a long time since the hijacking.
He re-entered Afghanistan, according to the Radio Kabul announcement, on March 14 last year, apparently under orders from the Al Zulfikar leadership to liquidate Sinwari, a former Al Zulfikar activist who had adopted Afghan nationality and was suspected of being an Afghan plant in the organisation.

Diplomatic sources in New Delhi said Alamgir was sent from Libya and he might have travelled with false documents. He shot Sinwari dead on March 16 in front of a theatre in Kabul and was arrested by the security police in dramatic circumstances at Kabul Airport the same night, minutes before he was to fly out.

Informed diplomats in Kabul and New Delhi interpret the Afghan action as a determined move by the Afghan Government to strike an anti-terrorist posture and to restore normalcy in its relations with the outside world. The fallout of the 1981 hijack had been costly for the Afghans.

Group of Seven, the powerful member countries of the International Civil Aviation Organisation including the US, Canada, West Germany, Britain, France, Italy and Japan, decided to boycott Afghanistan, thus denying Ariana, the Afghan national carrier landing rights all along the lucrative route of Frankfurt, Paris and London.

The state-controlled Pakistani media prominently displayed the news of Alamgir's execution, thus hinting that Pakistan appreciated the posture of toughness adopted by the Afghans against the assorted followers of the Bhutto family. The Kabul Government also wants direct talks to immediately commence with Pakistan, a desire which can come true only if the latter recognises the Karmal regime.

In dealing strictly with Al Zulfikar, President Karmal has neutralised a major irritant in the way. But, along the Baluchistan front, there are still 5,000 Baluch guerillas garrisoned at the Afghan town of Kandahar, which Pakistan sees as the main stumbling block to normalisation of relations.
Riaz Haq said…

Redefining citizenship in Pakistan
The PTM movement envisions an alternate relationship between citizen and state.


https://www.himalmag.com/redefining-citizenship-in-pakistan-2020/

Perhaps, the only slogan borrowed from older iterations of Pashtun nationalism is that of ‘Lar-o-bar Yaw Afghan’ (All Afghans are one). This slogan particularly evokes insecurity within the Pakistani state because it implies the fracture of the country. It can also evoke either making a separate Pashtunistan (a homeland for the Pashtuns) or joining with Afghanistan. The propaganda and suppression tactics surrounding this slogan, it can be argued, form the basis of Afghan support for the PTM. But this slogan expresses the cultural, historical and linguistic identity of Pashtuns as transcending the borders of Pakistan and also as participants in the project of the Pakistani nation as a people having their own identity and culture.

This charge of separatism also comes with the charge of an exclusively ethnic movement. This charge erases the conceptualisation of the particular versus the universal. It raises questions around collective self-expression and how it can be done in a participatory, ethical way.

A national consciousness is very different from the kind of nationalism which creates an essential category of a ‘nation’. That national consciousness takes stock of race- or ethnicity-based oppression. Rather than essentialising the ‘nation’, this consciousness seeks recognition in a framework of the universal. The crucial concept is that a particular race or ethnicity shouldn’t become universal and collaboration should be sought with other groups working towards a universal movement recognising the specificity of nationhood. The universal in turn shouldn’t essentialise and erase particular communities (both go hand in hand).

In this light, the PTM can be seen as reclaiming the right of being different and simultaneously of belonging to a country through the instrument of the constitution. In the PTM’s imagination, the constitution has a life of its own, and can be called upon again and again in order to legitimise the movement. Though the constitution is not a perfect document and is open to change to reflect changing socio-political circumstances, it is a guarantee protecting against the violation of human rights and of the state’s praetorian hold. The abstractness of the articles of the constitution finds materiality in the political programme where those who see the constitution as subservient to the ‘interests of the nation’ are made subservient to the dictates of the constitution. The PTM finds solidarity from people who are not Pashtuns and are not affected by war, because the constitution has the seeds of an alternate tomorrow which can challenge the economy and war-fuelled state through the constant violation of rights of the periphery as well as of people cast as the undesirable ‘other’.

Pashtuns have a complex relationship with the Pakistani state. It is validly argued that they hold disproportionate representation in some institutions, such as in the army, with between 15 and 22 percent of officers and between 20 and 25 percent among the rank and file said to be Pashtuns.

This is partly due to Pashtuns being the largest ethnic minority of the country, the portrayal of Pashtuns as a martial race by the British Raj (continued by the postcolonial state), and a long political struggle leading to upward social mobility for Pashtuns in some areas. Despite being the largest ethnic minority, they are treated, consciously or unconsciously, as the ethnic other to the de-ethnicised Pakistan: their lands are treated as arenas of war and their people are deployed to fight proxy wars of the state. The PTM aims to disrupt this dual treatment born out of the war economy. Their program is not only non-violent, it is also anti-violence and anti-war.
Riaz Haq said…
#India's Foolish Editor Aarti Tikoo Singh's Makes Up #FakeNews Based on Satirical Report about #ImranKhan of #Pakistan https://tribune.com.pk/story/2216386/1-tribune-fact-check-pm-imran-says-covid-19-curve-flattening-reading-chart-upside/

https://twitter.com/haqsmusings/status/1258601641508511744?s=20

The Indian media thought they had pounced upon a ‘glaring error’ made by Prime Minister Imran Khan and went as far as rehashing a satirical piece to try to put words in his mouth.

The Pakistani premier is no stranger to a gaffe from time to time, however, in this case media outlets from neighbouring India were in for a ‘rude awakening’.

The Dependent, a satirical Pakistani website, published a piece here poking fun at PM Imran.

The article outlines how PM Imran addressed a press conference attended by leading journalists in which he claimed that the government had reached the ‘epidemiological holy grail’ of flattening the Covid-19 curve in the country.`

The curve refers to the projected number of new cases of the virus, that has brought the entire world to a standstill, over a period of time.

The article goes on to detail how the prime minister rails on about the ‘achievement’ before being told by one of his aides that he has been reading the chart upside down all along.

It soon began doing the rounds on social media and was picked up by Indian journalist Aarti Tikoo Singh, who literally took it at face value and was then published with her by-line for Indian news outlet Indo-Asian News Service.

Television personality and seasoned journalist Zarar Khuhro, also tweeted how the Indian media got it wrong and had unintentionally provided some comic relief in the process.

The article was also widely shared on Indian Twitter, with users of the micro-blogging site desperately attempting to troll PM Imran for his supposed mistake.


Riaz Haq said…
#Indian cyber firm spied on #politicians, #investors worldwide. BellTroX InfoTech Services targeted #government officials in #Europe, gambling tycoons in #Bahamas, and top investors in #US, including private equity giant KKR and short seller Muddy Waters.https://reut.rs/2XOt6HX

LONDON/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - A little-known Indian IT firm offered its hacking services to help clients spy on more than 10,000 email accounts over a period of seven years.

New Delhi-based BellTroX InfoTech Services targeted government officials in Europe, gambling tycoons in the Bahamas, and well-known investors in the United States including private equity giant KKR and short seller Muddy Waters, according to three former employees, outside researchers, and a trail of online evidence.

Aspects of BellTroX’s hacking spree aimed at American targets are currently under investigation by U.S. law enforcement, five people familiar with the matter told Reuters. The U.S. Department of Justice declined to comment.

Reuters does not know the identity of BellTroX’s clients. In a telephone interview, the company’s owner, Sumit Gupta, declined to disclose who had hired him and denied any wrongdoing.

Muddy Waters founder Carson Block said he was “disappointed, but not surprised, to learn that we were likely targeted for hacking by a client of BellTroX.” KKR declined to comment.

Researchers at internet watchdog group Citizen Lab, who spent more than two years mapping out the infrastructure used by the hackers, released a report here on Tuesday saying they had "high confidence" that BellTroX employees were behind the espionage campaign.

“This is one of the largest spy-for-hire operations ever exposed,” said Citizen Lab researcher John Scott-Railton.

Although they receive a fraction of the attention devoted to state-sponsored espionage groups or headline-grabbing heists, “cyber mercenary” services are widely used, he said. “Our investigation found that no sector is immune.”

A cache of data reviewed by Reuters provides insight into the operation, detailing tens of thousands of malicious messages designed to trick victims into giving up their passwords that were sent by BellTroX between 2013 and 2020. The data was supplied on condition of anonymity by online service providers used by the hackers after Reuters alerted the firms to unusual patterns of activity on their platforms.

The data is effectively a digital hit list showing who was targeted and when. Reuters validated the data by checking it against emails received by the targets.

On the list: judges in South Africa, politicians in Mexico, lawyers in France and environmental groups in the United States. These dozens of people, among the thousands targeted by BellTroX, did not respond to messages or declined comment.

Reuters was not able to establish how many of the hacking attempts were successful.

BellTroX’s Gupta was charged in a 2015 hacking case in which two U.S. private investigators admitted to paying him to hack the accounts of marketing executives. Gupta was declared a fugitive in 2017, although the U.S. Justice Department declined to comment on the current status of the case or whether an extradition request had been issued.
Riaz Haq said…
#Agriculture Park opens in Ex FATA in #KPK, #Pakistan to support agriculture business in #terrorism-free #Waziristan. It has a market complex, 5 warehouses, a bank, a hotel, a pine nut plant, hawker sheds, facilities for cold storage and other structures. https://menafn.com/1100456011/Pakistan-Agriculture-Park-Wana-becomes-functional

The (FATA) region contributes some 29 % (11, 372 tons) of Pakistan’s total vegetable production. It represents 73 % of the bitter gourd (karela) production, 40% of aubergines/eggplants (bengan or brinjal), 33% of tomatoes and 21% of okra or Lady Fingers. The region also contributes 71 % (70,043 tons) of Pakistan’s fruit production, in which the production of apple is 92%, almonds 82%, peaches 40 % and grapes at 37% of total production.
--------------

The newly constructed Agriculture park in Wana, the regional headquarters of South Waziristan, is now functional. The park will play an important role to boost agricultural business after peace returned to South Waziristan. The park has been envisaged as a socioeconomic uplift programme for the tribal districts of Khyber Pukhtunkhwa province. Aside from facilitating locals, it is also hoped that it would open links via a central corridor with Afghanistan and neighboring countries.

Alam Khan Mahsud, 25, is the owner of a vegetable shop in the local market in Wana. After a hectic day of work, he goes back to Tank to sleep – approximately 60km away, from where he brings fresh vegetables for his shop. The long process is not just tiring, Mahsud explains: it is also reflected in the price he must charge for the produce.

With this project functional, local shopkeepers hope to find a way to obtain fresh vegetables on a daily basis at their doorsteps. Mahsud hopes, “Opening such project will help us to bring fresh vegetables in less time – and most important, the produce will be provided to all on government rates.”


The park is one of its kind in the region. It contains a market complex, five warehouses, a bank, a hotel, a pine nut plant, hawker sheds, facilities for cold storage and other structures. The mega project will host 50 kinds of business in which 703 people will get direct employment while 1,038 people will be facilitated as labour from the local populace.

Mujeeb Ur Rehman, 45, is a contractor in the agriculture park at Wana. He elaborates upon the project and calls it the new phase of Waziristan’s development. “This is one of the best projects for the rehabilitation of locals as the area was subjected to war and terror for the last decade.” He emphasizes that it will help locals to stand on their own feet after intense operations against terrorism brought life to a standstill for years. “We have some of the best pine nuts and fruits here. This project will be a hub for agricultural business, which will benefit the country’s economy.” He recommends that the government launch such projects in other parts of the tribal districts too.

-------

Gul Mar Khan, 35, is a truck driver. He brought in a truck loaded with pine nuts from Afghanistan. He considers the project a form of facilitation for truck drivers across the borders. He says: “Such a park for agriculture only a few hours way from Angoor Adda in the south along with Ghulam Khan terminal in north (Pak-Afghan border) is not only good for drivers coming across from Afghanistan but also a wave of relief and attraction for business of two neighboring countries Afghanistan and Pakistan. Previously, we had to take these pine nuts to the other parts of Pakistan which doubled the cost and added to the depreciation of the value of trucks due to wear and tear from a longer route.”

This year has been better thanks to the agriculture park. “Previously I took these pine nuts all the way to Peshawar and the profit was 3,000 to 3,500 US dollars per month. But this year the ratio increased to 6,500 US dollars of profit and it’s all due to the agriculture park in Wana,” Khan says.
Riaz Haq said…
No wonder #Nepal cut off #India's channels that broadcast 24X7X365 false news and #Delhi's propaganda against neighbors! #Pakistan #China #Bhutan #SriLanka https://thehimalayantimes.com/kathmandu/indian-news-channels-face-a-broadcasting-ban-in-nepal/


The Multi-System Operators (MSO) have decided to stop the broadcast of Indian news channels in Nepal. The decision will come into effect, immediately, on Thursday.

According to the operators’ latest decision, viewers will not have access to any Indian news channels, except for the Indian state owned Doordarshan news.

While some cable operators implemented the ban immediately, the others are yet to follow suit.

The move comes in the wake of unfounded reports on Nepal carried by some of the Indian news channels, including their defamatory ‘shows’ on the Nepali Prime Minister along with the Chinese envoy.

Earlier today, the spokesperson of the ruling Nepal Communist Party, Narayan Kaji Shrestha had slammed the Indian media for their ‘nonsense’ reports on matters related to Nepal and the Nepali government.

These measures follow the events wherein an Indian news channel, Zee Hindustan, broadcasted an imaginative and defamatory programme linking PM Oli with Chinese ambassador to Nepal Hou Yanqi.

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