Major General Babar Iftikhar has replaced Major General Ghafoor as the new Director-General Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR). And that too now while, we have started to enjoy the gaffes and that level of impropriety, that Pakistan Army is driven ISPR seems to be making the strongest claim to, beating even the most outrageous of Al Qaeda and Taliban statements.
Apart from the Gafoora’s Jamooras or the ISPR operatives engaging in social engineering and cyber espionage, which is accepted, what ISPR gets to table are Fake Narratives. The fake news run to support these state agendas, given the manner in which the internet is censored in Pakistan, the public believes false. This falsehood destroys the fabric of civil society’s perception about the other country.
Is that what ISPR and Pakistan Army desires, the distance between same-origin people- divided by borders, to achieve a state of beyond reconciliation.
Since this decade, the Pakistani Army has conducted a series of public wargames dubbed as Azm-e-Nau (A New Beginning), meant to counter the Indian Defence Cold Start doctrine. With many successful iterations over the years, these exercises simulated massive mobilizations augmented by network-centric warfare. Azm-e-Nau further acknowledges Pakistan’s understanding of hybrid war, as a continuous process, even in normal times, to act as a jump start in conflict, while acting as force multiplier throughout and post-conflict also.
ISPR is now touted as the crucial pivot of conflict escalation and platform for face-saving de-escalation(as seen during Balakot). It was meant to undertake information operations, military deception and strategic communications, viz as perception management.
There appears to be templated Pakistani response, that also hinted at the deftness and dexterity of the ISPR’s information warfare strategy and its implementation, albeit effectiveness outside its own domestic Cyberspace is debatable. All of this neatly converged, almost with textbook precision, in the Balakot strikes.
However, it did highlight the theme of ISPR, which highlights acknowledgment of the blurring the lines between the states of war and peace.
With his carefully orchestrated social media spectacles during and after the Balakot escalation, Asif Ghafoor, the director-general of the ISPR, proved to be an alarming disruptor. The gaffes that followed and the shoddy cover-up attempt did shadowed that effort, however, the effort was effected precisely.
ISPR, which must have been itching to flex its muscle, merely ended up conducting trademark information warfare maneuvers like denial, deception, however, face-saving, upon discovering the gaffes. Indeed, there were times when its Twitter tomfoolery pushed the agenda and stole the red carpet for a few minutes. However, as a case in study, they did put the Indian spokespersons in reactive mode, especially after the capture of a fighter pilot.
While in the long run, ISPR and their jamooras got discredited in western media too, and interestingly Gafoor earned the decoration of famous meme Gafoora therein., the show continued, unsparingly unabated, in front of its population. All the lies, in a repetitive manner, spread by the locally recruited staff at ISPR, made the misinformation and lies, deceivingly look as quasi truth.
ISPR based bot handles were very active, spreading morphed images and false information during the Post Article 370 abrogation. This was replicated during the CAA -NRC protests, while the initial wave of misinformation was so intense, that it became difficult for a Government to counter it, that also with Plain Facts.
Goebbel-ian Propaganda and Subversive Aim
As spying, kidnapping, subverting and even silencing
A more alarming aspect of four different, though interconnected, kinds of digital threats and attacks against human rights defenders in Pakistan has also come to fore. Amnesty International’s findings on the digital threats and attacks faced by human rights defenders and civil society in Pakistan.
Amnesty International has uncovered extensive networks of fake social media profiles used to infiltrate civil society networks and befriend human rights activists, for the purpose of gaining social investment within activist communities and ultimately convincing specific targets to download malicious surveillance technologies and malwares.
These attacks against the online accounts and personal devices of Journalists and human rights activists significantly contribute to a climate of repression and create an unnerving effect on those targeted with, and those who fear they may have been the target of, digital attacks. The impact of this cannot be overestimated, it is a tool of repression against Pakistani civil society.
Strictly in context of the domestic facet, tragically for the Pakistani, there is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact and somewhere in between this blatant game of lies, deception and subversive shaping of Public opinion, lies the greater game of ISPR.
The Gafoora, DG ISPR was lying all through the day, unfortunately, himself becoming a victim of a half-cooked story. While tactically a sharp maneuver, sadly it destroyed forever, the long term credibility His crony accounts most gleefully spread the lie, and by the time truth surfaced, all fell flat on its face. While this serves the purpose with internal audience, the world including India now doesn’t takes anything seriously from Pakistan. Any piece of news originating from Pakistan is now taken as ISPR originated fabricated false.
Subversion of internal dissent and fair Journalism shall continue, in the larger context of Pakistan consciously becoming a regional satellite of china as well as an economic colony. It shall run unabated, as has been in past subversion and terrorism against Baloch, Pashtun and Kashmiri people. It will be ruthless.
India found out the hard way in Balakot, Post abrogation of Article 370 and CAA-NRC protests. Public still feeds on the misinformation, especially lies propagated by ISPR twitter handles.
Ruthless will be the ISPR propaganda machinery to falsify any real happenings with respect to India, especially Kashmir. World knows better, however seizing the initiative, while being in a constant state of Twitter War shall continue to be the hallmark of ISPR. India shall continue to be proactive with facts and truth, to obviate the meager advantage of quick start the ISPR propaganda machinery is likely to achieve.
People and world learn fast, and they are learning the truth behind ISPR-Pakistan Army based twitter bots. While Gafooras and Jamooras shall keep coming and going, truth shall prevail.
26 Jan 20/Sunday Written By: Fayaz