Afghan, Indian social media accounts being used to repeatedly malign Pakistan: Yusuf

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National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf on Wednesday shared data pertaining to anti-Pakistan social media trends that were launched between 2019 and 2021, the majority of which have been traced to India and Afghanistan.

Yusuf said that the government through analysis and data will shed light on the “information warfare” Pakistan is faced with.

He said he wishes to speak of Afghanistan in particular, where the Taliban and the government are at war.

He said the government’s social media teams and think tanks have worked extensively to gather evidence that shows that social media accounts “from Afghanistan and India are being used repeatedly to malign Pakistan”.

Yusuf said that most recently a #SanctionPakistan trend spread online and it merited an investigation to see whether it was organic.

The NSA went on to say that besides this, there are efforts to blame Pakistan for all the failures that accumulated in the 20-year-long war in Afghanistan.

He said that as US troops began to withdraw from Afghanistan and the Taliban took control of cities and provincial capitals, “there is a growing narrative against Pakistan with the aim to save themselves from being blamed for their own failures”.

“And it is very unfortunate that some high level officials in the Afghan government are part of this, some of which have come forth as well,” he said.

He said “a lot of accounts have links to the state” and through India as well “a very well coordinated campaign is being run against Pakistan”.

“We will expose all these truths, not through fake news but through data and facts. We will form a narrative to tell the world what is being done with Pakistan.”

The NSA then proceeded to show a few slides, one of which was a timeline from 2019 onwards, and others, which showed how, as matters grew more intense in Afghanistan, hashtags against Pakistan popped up.

Yusuf said there are five broad themes that can be seen in the trends:

1. Discredit Pakistan government, and especially Pakistan Army.

2. Fan sub-nationalism.

3. Directly target CPEC through hybrid warfare.

4. Push Pakistan into the FATF blacklist.

5. Blame Pakistan for the chaos in Afghanistan.

The NSA said that an important thing to note is the use of “bots” which push trends artificially.

“Unfortunately, within Pakistan, people who are unaware, who think this is taking place organically, end up retweeting these hashtags. They think this is a natural, organic thing.

“A lot of the videos, let me tell you, are five years old, 10 years old, but because they suit the international media’s narrative right now, are being spread as if they are current,” Yusuf said.

He said that 30-40% of the activity is through these bots.

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