FO says @PakinSerbia ‘hacked’ after it slams PM

Embassy says a ‘baseless’ tweet was posted on its official Twitter handle from a device in Karachi


Our Correspondent December 03, 2021

ISLAMABAD:

The official Twitter handle of Pakistan's Embassy in Serbia on Friday criticised the PTI-led government over record-breaking inflation and alleged non-payment of salaries for the past three months.

However, the Foreign Office spokesperson, in a tweet, claimed that Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts of the country's mission in Belgrade were "hacked".

The tweet by the verified account of the embassy asked Prime Minister Imran Khan as to how long did he expect the government officials to remain silent in the face of “hyperinflation”. “[How long do you expect government officials to] keep working for you without being paid for [the] past 3 months & our children been forced out of school due to non-payment of fees,” it added. Is this Naya Pakistan?"

A parody song was also embedded in the tweet that mocked PM Imran for his evergreen phrase 'ghabrana nahi hai'.

In a second tweet, the official account of the embassy read that they were sorry. However, it added, they had no other option but to air their reservations on a public forum.

Responding to the tweet, PM's digital media aide, Dr Arslan Khalid said that the account was "hacked". He cited the Foreign Office as his source for the news.

“An inquiry is being conducted by the Foreign Office,” he added.

Two hours later, the Foreign Office issued a statement, saying the social media accounts of the embassy had been hacked. The tweets have since been deleted.

“The Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts of the Embassy of Pakistan in Serbia have been hacked. Messages being posted on these accounts are not from the Embassy of Pakistan in Serbia," the Foreign Office spokesperson tweeted.

Later, Pakistan's embassy in Serbia also said the account had been hacked and a "baseless" tweet was posted on it from a device in Karachi.

"The Twitter account of the Embassy of Pakistan in Belgrade, Serbia (@PakinSerbia) was hacked and logged in from a Chrome desktop on a Windows device in Karachi, Pakistan at 05:59 hours local time (09:59 PST)," a statement issued by the embassy said.

It added that a message was posted from the hacked account at 6:59am local time (10:59 PST), which was not from the embassy.

Read Ill-timed poetry critical of PM Imran raises eyebrows in Dushanbe

"After the hacking of the Twitter account, a baseless and unfactual post was made regarding the non-payment of salaries. This was totally false and far from reality."

The embassy's statement read that all of its employees were paid their salaries regularly, and there was no disruption in the education of the children of its officers and staff.

"The embassy is receiving funds from Islamabad on a regular basis," it added.

It further read that the embassy "does not take any responsibility for the above-mentioned posts and deeply regrets the frivolous activity generated through the hacked account".

The embassy said that its Facebook and Instagram accounts were also hacked seemingly using the same device from which its Twitter account was hacked.

"The Twitter account was retrieved at 09:11 hours local time (13:11 PST)," it said.  “The IP address of the device used for hacking it was being shared with relevant quarters in Pakistan for further investigation into the matter.”

As per recent reports, inflation in the country has skyrocketed to 11.5% in November 2021 – the fastest pace in 21 months – because of the government’s administrative decisions coupled with the steep currency depreciation, which had made food, electricity, and transport unaffordable for the common people.

The Consumer Price Index (CPI), on a month-on-month basis, jumped 3% - the highest monthly reading in the past 13-and-a-half years, reflecting a massive increase in prices.

Last week, the central bank increased interest rate by 1.5 percentage point to 8.75% amid expectations that the rate would go up further in the next monetary policy meeting that the State Bank of Pakistan has convened on December 14.

More worryingly, the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) skyrocketed 27% in November, indicating that prices would remain very high in the coming months.

The WPI rose mainly because of a massive increase in prices of textile and apparel, metal products, transport goods, food, beverages and leather products.

Meanwhile, experts have warned that the International Monetary Fund’s (IMF) prior actions will push inflation into double digits but Pakistan needed to make difficult decisions about the reduction in expenditure and the size of the civilian-military workforce.

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