The Pakistani High Commission in capital Dhaka has allegedly actively perpetrated a carefully calibrated disinformation campaign, using religion on social media platforms to target civil society, political parties, academia and media. A sensational investigative report published by Bangladesh’s largest daily newspaper Prothom Alo has brought to light this vicious network. This report has also been published by other leading news portals of South Asia like The Economic Times India.
The Pakistani High Commission has allegedly actively launched various WhatsApp groups, formulated under the watchful eyes of the deep state, intelligence service ISI to spread misinformation and fabricated information or specific interests using religion as its primary tool. The investigation revealed that these groups propagate misinformation to create tensions and disharmony between various Bangladesh communities and neighbouring India.
The Pakistani authorities have in the past have relied on multiple proscribed organisations to carry out their propaganda of hate in an unabated fashion. In 2015 Pakistan diplomat Farin Arshad was forced to leave Bangladesh for promoting terrorism. Later in 2016, another Pak diplomat Mazhar Khan was caught making payment to a cadre of outlawed terror group JMB. The peddling of fake Indian currency was also one of the key smuggling routes that the ISI relied on to spread their terror network in Southeast Asia.
According to the report, a specific WhatsApp group was created in collaboration with alleged ISI officers based at the Pakistan High Commission of Dhaka and fake anti-Islamic sentiments to propagate disharmony between communities and neighbours. This pattern was also quite consistent with last year. Social media giant Twitter had suspended scores of fake accounts used by the Pakistani establishment to spread similar misinformation, especially targeting India in the Middle Eastern Gulf countries. Mr Aurangzeb Haral administered this specific WhatsApp group; Press Secretary Pak High Commission Dhaka has an alleged entity called ‘Black Cobra’ with the registered number in Mogadishu, Somalia.
On the occasion of Bangladesh’s Golden Jubilee independence celebrations, Pakistani agencies were also alleged to have fostered violent protests throughout the country, destabilising peace and prosperity during the Indian prime minister’s visit. The local collaborators in Bangladesh whom these officers rely on are students of religion who often travelled to the Middle East for further education; ISI picks them up to resonate with the hate propaganda.
The law enforcement agencies of Bangladesh and the Foreign Ministry have launched an aggressive investigation into the whole matter. There has also been associated evidence of substantial foreign currency transactions coming in from Pakistan via Dubai and Qatar. It is also to be noted here Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina has Zero tolerance towards terrorism and was herself a victim of multiple grenade attacks carried out by similar miscreants on 21st August 2004.
Image courtesy: Reuters