Disinformation’ is a concept that finds mention in Sun Tzu’s Ping Fa (Principles of War). Even before Sun Tzu, Kautliya in Arthashastra supported disinformation as a civil and military warfare tool within his concept of ‘koota yuddha’ (unprincipled warfare as distinguished from dharma yuddha, righteous warfare).
Tzu and Kautliya’s principles were used not only in World War II but also in the Cold War period. Richard Deacon says, ‘Truth twisting…unless it is conducted with caution and great attention to detail, it will inevitably fail, if practiced too often… It is not the deliberate lie which we have to fear (something propaganda), but the half-truth, the embellished truth, and the truth dressed up to appear something quite different’ (The Truth Twisters, London, MacDonald & Company Limited, 1986/1987, p. 8). He gives several examples of disinformation including subliminal disinformation by which the truth can be twisted so that the distortion is unconsciously absorbed by something which both television and radio commentators have subtly perfected’ (Ibid, p. 9).
Even Americans deceived with disinformation
In the USA, the Creel Committee, through false anti-German propaganda turned pacifist Americans against Germans. Disinformation influenced even independent-minded Americans who laid down a constitution, beginning with the words ‘we the people’. Yet Chomsky says the American masses are like a “bewildered herd” that has stopped thinking (Noam Chomsky, Media Control: The Spectacular Achievements of Propaganda, p.16). He asserts that in a “properly functioning democracy, there is a ‘small percentage of the people’, a ‘specialised class of citizens’ who … analyse, execute, make decisions and run things in the political, economic, and ideological systems.”
George Orwell, in his essay, Politics and the English Language, suggested that trying to find a clear-cut definition of fifth-generation or hybrid war would reveal “cloudy vagueness”, with the use of important-sounding, pseudo-technological words to impress readers and convince them that this war is being fought at a level the layperson cannot comprehend.
As Chomsky further recalls, “Woodrow Wilson was elected President in 1916 on the platform Peace without Victory’, right in the middle of World War I.” The American population was extremely pacifistic and saw no reason to become involved in a European War. The Wilson administration established a government propaganda commission, called the Creel Commission, which, through fake news, films, etc., they succeeded, within six months, in turning a pacifist population into a hysterical, war-mongering population which wanted to destroy everything German, go to war and save the world…. ‘After the war, the same techniques were used to whip up a hysterical Red Square…’ (ibid page 12).
India’s modus operandi for hybrid warfare
India is spearheading its disinformation campaign against Pakistan through think tanks and journalists of doubtful credentials. MacDonald-Laurier Institute, a registered Canadian charity, published a Pakistan-bashing report ‘Khalistan—A project of Pakistan’ which found mention in almost all leading Indian newspapers.
Another pro-India ‘think-tank’ is the ‘International Terrorism Observatory’ chaired by Roland Jacquard. Prestigious French newspaper Le Monde (The World) pointed out in 2015; he is the only member “without publications, without a website, without postal address, and any legal existence.” He runs a bookstore stacked with books on ‘networks of Islamist terrorism’. According to journalists Didier Bigo, Laurent Bonelli, and Thomas Deltombe, Roland Jacquard’s claim of being a media expert is questionable.
Another India sponsored think-tank exposed
Similarly, one more India-sponsored think tank is the ‘International Institute for Non-Aligned Studies’ run by Srivastava Group of India. In a startling disclosure, EU-based non-governmental organisation EU DisinfoLab exposed the identity of the ‘think-tank’ as also India-sponsored fake, dis-informational network of 265 fake media outlets in 65 countries, including the US, Canada, Brussels, and Geneva. The Lab found that the ‘Institute’ paid for the travel and accommodation of an unofficial far-right delegation of 23 European Union parliamentarians to Srinagar on October 30, 2013. The trip was arranged by Indian intelligence surrogate, Madi Sharma, who posed as a self-styled “international business broker”.
Journalism or state-sponsored propaganda
Even prestigious Indian newspapers never fail to publish anti-Pakistan reports or articles that smack of being pieces of state-sponsored disinformation. RAW’s disinformation campaign is well reflected by innocuous-looking news that appears, from time to time, in Indian media. Examples of such news, attributed usually to foreign sources, are: (i) Pakistan aids Saudi Arabia’s nuclear program. Yet, it bugged royal visitors’ conversations during their stay in Pakistan, (ii) Bangladesh and ISI hand in glove to foment secessionist movements in India’s north-eastern region (iii) Pak ISI is not only training Kashmiri Mujahideen but also imparting training to ‘disgruntled Muslims’ to wage a proxy war. Interestingly, the magazine portrayed even Tableeghi Jama’at, a pacifist organisation, as a militant organisation. Disinformation reports in India also allege that the Taliban are still Pakistan’s protégé. Al-Qaeda members are hiding in the Pakistan-controlled frontier region.
A case in point
Take Shishir Gupta’s article, “Imran Khan’s 18-point Kashmir plan for Aug 5, outreach to Turkey, Malaysia and China”, published in Hindustan Times dated July 28, 2020.
Shishir writes, “With Pakistan Army expected to take the back seat, Imran Khan may go to occupied Kashmir [Azad Kashmir] to rake up anti-India sentiment in his assembly address to mark one year of India nullifying Article 370” It is quite intriguing that he knew the contents of the address when it was yet to be delivered? He further went on to write, “Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan who counts the campaign against India over Jammu and Kashmir as his government’s key achievement has roped in the Inter-Services Intelligence, or ISI, in its 18-point plan to commemorate the Aug 5 anniversary of India scrapping Article 370 that extended special status to the valley, people familiar with the development.” The ISI is Pakistan’s notorious spy agency accused of nurturing terror groups, mostly directed at India and Afghanistan’ (How did he know of the ISI’s connection?) “Before he reaches Muzaffarabad, Khan’s government intends a field trip for foreign journalists to the occupied territory. Like in the past, the terror training camps funded by the ISI would be off-limits for the journalists” Looks like he is well aware of the location of the training camps being there himself?
Be it noted that Gupta is ‘Winner of the 2011 Ben-Gurion Award for journalism’. His affinity for Israel and abhorrence to Pakistan is conspicuous. He was also a member of the International Institute of Strategic Studies, London. The ISS. London published the Pakistan-bashing paper ‘Nuclear Black Markets: Pakistan, A.Q. Khan and the Rise of Proliferation Networks (A Net Assessment) (An IISS Strategic Dossier) Paperback – January 1, 2007′.
RAW’s disinformation campaign is well reflected by innocuous-looking news that appears, from time to time, in Indian media.
Read more: The irksome dossier
How the RAW chief distorted truths
AS Dulat, in his book Kashmir: The Vajpayee Years makes countless allegations to tarnish Pakistan’s image. For instance, he says “While Pakistan has been our main concern, it does not give two hoots about Kashmir and is often filled with contempt for Kashmiris…Pakistani dictator Zia-ul-Haq called them ‘Brahmin ke aulad’ (Kashmiris are originally Nagas descended from Saraswat Brahmins)” (Pp xxvi to xxvii). He holds Musharraf and ISI accountable for the hijacking of Indian Airlines flight IC -814 on December 24, 1999 (p. 35 ibid.). Furthermore, he accuses ISI of killing Majeeed Dar (Hizbul Mujahideen) (p. 79 ibid) and Abdul Ghani Lone (pp136 to 141, ibid.). He squarely blames ISI for motivating and training Hashim to hijack the Ganga airplane (p. 100, Ibid.).
George Orwell, in his essay, Politics and the English Language, suggested that trying to find a clear-cut definition of fifth-generation or hybrid war would reveal “cloudy vagueness”, with the use of important-sounding, pseudo-technological words to impress readers and convince them that this war is being fought at a level the layperson cannot comprehend. India has proved that it understands the dimensions of the fifth generation war or fake news. It knows how to apply its techniques to achieve its objectives. It is time for Pakistan to wake up.
Mr. Amjed Jaaved has been writing free-lance for over five decades. He has served federal and provincial governments of Pakistan for 39 years. His contributions stand published in the leading dailies and magazines at home and abroad (Nepal. Bangladesh, et. al.). He is author of eight e-books including The Myth of Accession. He knows many languages including French and Arabic. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.