New Delhi: A fresh psychological war has broken out between India and Pakistan on social media platform Twitter after the Pakistani military’s public relations wing pushed out disinformation about the Indian Army.
On Friday, the Twitter account of an Indian Army officer was hacked and a mischievously worded tweet was posted from it, sources in the Army said. In the tweet, it was claimed that the officer had decided to quit the force as “Pakistan killed 25 of my Unit jawans” and there was no word about it in the Indian media.
A handle by the name of @Shahid09873 was created in response within minutes, and identified itself as the account of a Pakistani Army colonel.
Using the same disinformation style as seen in the first tweet, a satirical tweet posted by ‘Colonel Shahid’ claimed, “I am a Pakistan Army Colonel. I have decided to retire early as Indian army is killing us on LOC. In last two days about 50 pakistan army has been killed. I request Indian army not to kill us, I beg them. I have 5000 troops with me who will also retire & leave pak army (sic).”
The two set of tweets received significant attention in the cyberspace on both sides of the border.
However, Twitter suspended both the accounts later.
ISPR behind Pakistan propaganda
Speaking to ThePrint, Indian officials said Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR), the public relations wing of the Pakistan armed forces, serves as the fountainhead of the propaganda machinery in the neighbouring country.
The ISPR operates thousands of fake social media handles to push their psychological operations, or ‘PsyOps’, into Kashmir and rest of India, said the officials.
“The ISPR is following the policy of LDD which is Lie, Deceit, Deception. They have a separate wing for carrying out the social media war with hundreds of youngsters on their payrolls,” said an officer in the Indian Army who didn’t wish to be named.
Also read: Pakistan has turned its birth day into a black day. Just to spite India over Kashmir
Propaganda war aimed at stoking emotions in Kashmir
After India abrogated Article 370 of the Constitution and divided the state of Jammu and Kashmir into two union territories on 5 August, Pakistan has launched a propaganda war to stoke emotions in the state.
From using fake handles to tweet false and misleading pictures and videos, even of other conflict zones like Palestine, to putting out fake stories through Pakistani politicians and journalists, the neighbouring country has been making deliberate attempts to aggravate the situation in Kashmir.
Some of these tweets were also meant to cause a division in the Indian armed forces by invoking religion.
On Tuesday, Pakistan federal minister Fawad Chaudhry sent out a tweet, both in English and Gurumukhi, asking Punjabi soldiers in the Indian Army to “deny duty in Kashmir” so that they are not a part of “injustice/zulm”.
While Indian social media users vehemently opposed his divisive tactics, Punjab chief minister Amarinder Singh posted a sharp response.
“Stop trying to interfere in India’s internal matter. And let me tell you that the Indian Army is a disciplined and nationalist force, unlike your Army @fawadchaudhry. Your provocative statement will not work, nor will the Soldiers in our Army follow your divisive diktats. @adgpi,” said Singh.
Stop trying to interfere in India's internal matter. And let me tell you that the Indian Army is a disciplined and nationalist force, unlike your Army @fawadchaudhry. Your provocative statement will not work, nor will the Soldiers in our Army follow your divisive diktats. @adgpi https://t.co/DAQfj0yqQ0
— Capt.Amarinder Singh (@capt_amarinder) August 13, 2019
On the same day, another prominent propaganda campaign was put out featuring an old video of a blast in Kulgam to falsely claim that the Indian military was using gunship helicopter in Kashmir.
Multiple handles tweeted out the false claims, including former Pakistan interior minister Senator Rehman Malik and Abdullah Gul, son of Pakistan’s former Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) DG Hamid Gul.
Indian Army have used Gunship helicopters to attack villages in IOK #Kashmir
With complete blackout, brave Kashmiris r managing to send the videos .
This attack left dozens of men, women & children killed.where is the mediation of President @realDonaldTrump & action by @UN https://t.co/3ezyqIHorm
— Senator Rehman Malik (@SenRehmanMalik) August 13, 2019
The video was immediately called out as fake.
Not only this, multiple influential social media handles from Pakistan have tried to hype up the possibility of a build-up at the LoC, a claim that has been denied by the Indian Army.
Similar propaganda machinery was employed in the aftermath of India’s Balakot strike on 26 February.
Also read: Suspended OSINT handles back on Twitter, trash claims they exposed IAF during Balakot
Paki has zero shame.
Today a complete beggar, no democratic institutions, no prospects for economic growth, diplomatic isolation, is turning to be another North Korea, another failed puppet of China
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