BJP-run Indian media knew about 'security threats' to NZ tour a month ago

Sunday Guardian Live, quoting 'sources', claimed on Aug 21 that Kiwi's tour was 'under imminent terror threat'


News Desk September 17, 2021
New Zealand Black Caps cricket team practices in Pakistan in this undated handout image taken from video. PHOTO: REUTERS

An Indian media outlet, run by a member of the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) who served as Minister of State for External Affairs between July 2016 and October 2018 under Narendra Modi, apparently knew about the "security threat" to the New Zealand cricket team almost a month before it pulled out of the tour.

New Zealand unilaterally decided to abandon its tour of Pakistan citing "security concerns" on Friday. The first ODI between the two sides was set to be played in Rawalpindi earlier in the day.

“Earlier today, the New Zealand Cricket informed us they had been alerted to some security alert and have unilaterally decided to postpone the series,” according to an official statement issued by the Pakistan Cricket Board (PCB) said.

“The Pakistan Cricket Board and Pakistan Government made foolproof security arrangements for all visiting teams. We have assured the New Zealand Cricket of the same. The Pakistan Prime Minister spoke personally to the Prime Minister of New Zealand and informed her that we have one of the best intelligence systems in the world and that no security threat of any kind exists for the visiting team,” it added.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, later in the day, said that the tour was cancelled under an international 'conspiracy'.

He said that he will not name the conspirators. However, he added that some forces wanted to make Pakistan a scapegoat after what had been happening in Afghanistan.

Sunday Guardian Live, owned by Mobasher Jawed Akbar aka MJ Akbar, ran a story titled ‘New Zealand cricket team may face terror attack in Pakistan’ on August 21, claiming that the New Zealand cricket team's tour of Pakistan was under "a terror threat with an imminent possibility of the touring cricketers being attacked by one of the many terror groups active in the volatile region."

It quoted banned Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan's (TTP) former spokesperson Ehsan Ullah Ehsan as saying that ISIS set-up in Pakistan was engaged in preparing for the attack on New Zealand players.

Read more: Pakistan sees int’l conspiracy behind cancellation of NZ cricket team’s tour

The report is written by a journalist named Abhinandan Mishra, who is considered a mouthpiece for India's security establishment. Quoting "sources" Mishra, on January 18, 2020, reported that Ehsan had escaped from the custody of Pakistan security agencies.

The news was confirmed by the government only a month after, raising eyebrows over the "sources" of the Indian journalist. A close inspection of his stories revealed that most of them were based on unnamed "sources" and were against Pakistan, its army and security institutions.

Pakistani officials have been saying that India has a clear policy against the country, in which disinformation and destabilisation are key components.

Researchers for Brussels-based EU DisinfoLab, in a 2019 study reported at least 265 fake local news websites, in more than 65 countries, working to sway public perceptions against Pakistan (and China).

Also read: Disappointed’ Ramiz, Babar react after New Zealand abandon Pakistan tour

These sites are managed by Indian influence networks and target international institutions and elected representatives of foreign governments. By 2020, these fake news websites — like OpIndia and Postcard News, had proliferated to 750 across 116 countries. The network included many dubious think tanks and NGOs and had continued for some 15 years.

A BBC report (titled “Indian Chronicles”) has traced many of these fake news websites to an Indian company, Srivastava Group (SG), lobbying for anti-Pakistan efforts in Europe. Its modus operandi consisted of copying syndicated news content from other media outlets, planting opinion pieces and stories critical of Pakistan mainly through NGOs linked to their network.

The goal remained to influence organisations like the Geneva-based UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and European Parliament to discredit Pakistan. The SG website would falsely attribute their op-eds to authors like European lawmakers and fake journalists, with content mostly plagiarised from other sources.

Read: Indian, Afghan social media accounts involved in anti-Pakistan propaganda: NSA

Last month, National Security Adviser (NSA) Moeed Yusuf, during a press conference, regretted that many Indian and Afghan social media accounts were involved in maligning Pakistan.

The NSA said that the government has decided to expose the nefarious designs against Pakistan and will present its analysis with the help of data.

"We will expose everything with data and tell the world about it. We will present our point of view on national as well as international media," he added.

Speaking on the occasion, the information minister said that 150,000 tweets came from India alone on August 14, 2020, with #BalochistanSolidarityDay hashtag.

He said that Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) created 150 trends against Pakistan and they were supported by India. "A massive social media campaign is underway against Pakistan," he added.

Fawad said that many Wikipedia pages were also being edited by Indians to spread disinformation against Pakistan. "We discovered that 845 websites were created for spreading misinformation against Pakistan... these websites have closer ties with Indian news agency ANI."

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