LONDON/GENEVA/ISLAMABAD: The United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) has confirmed that it is investigating India’s lobbying against Pakistan through dubious NGOs and is taking the matter “very seriously”.
In an exclusive conversation with The Pakistan Daily, the spokesperson for the United Nations Human Rights Council said: “The Human Rights Council secretariat is looking into the specific allegations contained in the EU Disinfolab report, which it takes very seriously.”
REVEALED: Indian Chronicles – how a massive 15-year influence operation successfully targeted the EU & UN with 750+ fake local media and 10+ zombie-NGOs.
— EU DisinfoLab (@DisinfoEU) December 9, 2020
The EU DisinfoLab report revealed how India was using over 750 fake news websites and 10 dubious NGOs to spread misinformation about Pakistan and tarnish her global image using fake news.
European parliamentarians and lobbyists in Geneva were used by the infamous Shrivastava Group in a systematic, targeted campaign against Pakistan which has lasted for over 15 years since 2005.
Indian Chronicles’ key objective is to undermine Pakistan internationally.
To do so, they resurrected dead NGOs at the UN.
They impersonated the EU.
They laundered content produced by fake media to real media – and reached millions in South-Asia & across the world. (2/n)
— EU DisinfoLab (@DisinfoEU) December 9, 2020
“This is an unfortunate trend which does not serve the best interests of the Human Rights Council and has had a negative impact on the role of civil society organizations who have been engaging constructively in Council meetings since it was established nearly 15 years ago,” the UNHRC spokesperson added.
The UNHRC spokesperson provided an in-depth account into the United Nation’s internal mechanisms and reassured this correspondent that after the allegations are investigated by the UN, action would be taken against the dubious NGOs, some of which are registered under fake names.
“If there are irregularities in the registration application to attend Human Rights Council meetings, such as a forgery, the matter is immediately dealt with by UN Security. If incidents of this nature occur, the UN can deny or revoke the credentials of any individual or potential organisation involved,” Rolando Gomez, the spokesperson for the UNHRC said in an exclusive conversation with The Pakistan Daily.
Since Pakistan is a Member State of the UNHRC, the spokesperson added that Member States have the prerogative of registering complaints, such as those contained in the EU Disinfolab report, directly with the NGO Committee in New York.
This correspondent reached out to the Indian High Commission in London but the Indian High Commission did not respond to a request for comments even after this correspondent mentioned specific deadlines and allowed a reasonable time for the Indian High Commission’s perspective.
In an exclusive conversation with The Pakistan Daily, the Spokesperson for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Pakistan said: “Pakistan strongly condemns India’s reprehensible tactics against Pakistan that have, once again, been exposed by the EU DisinfoLab, in its latest Report.
“The Government of Pakistan views these mischievous activities of launching unsubstantiated propaganda as part of India’s unrelenting smear campaign against Pakistan and its preoccupation with maligning Pakistan. Publication of the recent report by EU DisinfoLab further substantiates Pakistan’s position in front of the International community.”
Pakistan’s Foreign Office held that India had not only spread disinformation but also abused international institutions like the United Nations and the European Parliament in its desire to malign Pakistan.
According to the Spokesperson of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Pakistan: “For far too long, India has masqueraded itself as a ‘victim’ of terrorism. It is time that the world saw the reality of India as a state-sponsor of terrorism and a purveyor of anti-Pakistan propaganda globally.”
Regarding the role of the UNHRC, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs said: “We urge the UN Human Rights machinery, particularly the Human Rights Council (HRC), to take a serious look as to how a prestigious platform such as the HRC could be misused in such a manner against a member state. The relevant authorities in Switzerland and Belgium must investigate the finances and transparency of the relevant NGOs registered within their jurisdiction.”
Earlier, Pakistan’s Foreign Minister, Shah Mahmood Qureshi had called on the UN and UN Human Rights Council (UNHRC) to immediately investigate and de-list the 10 fake NGOs used by India to malign Pakistan.
Senior investigative journalist, Murtaza Ali Shah who is based in London and has been covering Geneva since 2011 initially broke the story of India’s systematic disinformation and lobbying campaign against Pakistan in Geneva.
“The scandal was first revealed on Geo News in my report for Shahzeb Khanzada’s show. A 12 minute report was run on Geo News and published in The News and Daily Jang detailing how Geneva had become a centre of anti-Pakistan activities. I was alert first towards something fishy when I saw that some burka wearing women were protesting for women rights in Pakistan. Upon closer inspection, I saw that the black burka-clad women outside the UNHRC building were actually boys who had covered their faces completely,” senior investigative reporter, Murtaza Ali Shah told The Pakistan Daily.
Then there was a protest which called for the liberation of Balochistan, said senior Pakistani journalist Murtaza Ali Shah, in which around 50 protestors took part and not a single protestor was from Balochistan or South Asia.
“All these protestors were wearing Free Balochistan shirts, waving flags and sitting in a silent protest. When I asked them where they were from and whether they knew where Balochistan was, they had no idea. They said an organisation had hired them on daily wages to hold the placards, do the protest and get paid. They said the same organisation had used them for other anti-Pakistan activities too,” Murtaza Ali Shah revealed to this correspondent.
He further stated: “I roamed around the streets of Geneva for days and weeks and saw how a huge amount of money was being spent on buses, rickshaws and trams by shadowy groups in order to paint Pakistan in a bad light. This is not to say that Pakistan doesn’t have issues. There are genuine Pakistanis who spoke about issues in Pakistan and Pakistanis are taking a stand for a democratic and tolerant Pakistan and full credit goes to the genuine activists.”
Murtaza Ali Shah held that the Pakistani authorities did nothing after his original findings were broadcast. “No notice was taken, no attention was paid. It’s only now that Pakistan’s government has started raising hue and cry after the EU Disinfo lab published this report.”
MN Exclusive: European Parliament takes note of EU DisinfoLab report exposing Indian Propaganda https://t.co/mr1PDKLvF4
— Reham Khan (@RehamKhan1) December 11, 2020
Former BBC broadcaster and the ex-wife of Prime Minister Imran Khan, Ms Reham Khan said that the UNHRC taking notice on this report was “an extremely positive sign”.
Reham Khan said: “The increasingly aggressive jingoism since Modi was re-elected hasn’t gone unnoticed. Senior experienced journalists have complained off record to me about what they are expected to do.
“I myself have limited my presence on Indian media as I find it’s losing its impartiality. The Pakistani authorities have struggled to bring their narrative forward on Kashmir as hyper Indian propaganda has taken over social media space. This is an extremely positive sign that the UNHRC is taking this report seriously & will investigate malicious intent against Pakistan by these organisations,” Reham Khan told The Pakistan Daily.
It is still unclear when action against India’s dubious NGOs controlled by the notorious Shrivastava Group will be implemented but sources within the United Nations alleged that there is a high probability that the NGOs would be delisted from the UNHRC before the next session in February.
This correspondent reached out to Ankit Shrivastava, who serves as the Chief Editor of the New Delhi Times but he did not respond to a request for comment.