Khan’s implacable desire to tweet fake videos and photographs related to India has only drawn brickbats from strategic experts from across the globe.
An analysis of his personal social media account carried out by intelligence and security agencies found that 90 per cent of his tweets are focussed on India, pushing hatred with each messages. The impulsive Pakistan Prime Minister appears to be suffering from some kind of phobia, using the micro blogging network to push fake propaganda.
Ever since the abrogation of Article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir last year, Khan’s tweets have been entirely directed on Kahsmir even as he got caught while propagating fake news about the Indian security forces.“This rewinding narrative on Kashmir is turning out to be a monotonous rambling by a head of a state, similar to flogging a dead horse,” said a senior officer posted with one of the central Indian intelligence agencies.
The officer further pointed out that ironically, this is coming at a time when Khan has been “accused of being casual and credit hunting in a crisis situation” with the coronavirus pandemic claiming hundreds of lives in Pakistan.
This is not at all surprising, coming from someone who owes his political ascendancy to the powerful military establishment in Pakistan, which is well-known for having a pervasive and hideous grip on the domestic politics of the neighbouring country.
Talking about the current crisis in Pakistan, a senior officer with the security establishment said that after being carved out from a united India in 1947, the rulers of Pakistan have never been able to come to terms with its identity.
“The military, which ruled Pakistan for most part of its existence, directly or indirectly, has nursed a deep seated uneasiness against the relative success of India in nation building, even as its own efforts at fostering a federation have faltered due to the indigenous political movements in Balochistan, Gilgit-Baltistan, Sindh and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa,” the officer explained.
Explaining the situation in Balochistan, the officer said that in the largest province of Balochistan, decade old restive movement for autonomy has turned into a full-blown insurgency, bracing against brutal state repression, forced disappearances of activists and a media lockdown. In Waziristan, the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM), a nascent resistance by the Pashtun community demanding ‘respect’ and cessation of military restrictions, has steadily snowballed into a loud demand for autonomy in a region that straddles the disputed Durand Line between Afghanistan and Pakistan.
On May 1, 2020, Arif Wazir, an outspoken leader of PTM, was killed by the forces linked to Pakistan’s military intelligence agency ISI, defying the restraint which Muslims across the world observe in the holy month of Ramzan. However, such contradictions are not new in Pakistani Deep State’s unrestrained liaison with terrorism, narcotics, arms smuggling and meddling in domestic and regional politics.
Given these factors, which essentially help the Pakistani military-intelligence establishment retain its position of primacy in Pakistan’s society, Khan’s Twitter tirade seems to be a tactic in a larger campaign of propaganda against India, partly aimed at covering the realities concerning Pakistan’s internal troubles.
Pakistan’s Deep State has employed many tactics inspired by the Palestine-Israel conflict to colour the externally abetted insurgency in Kashmir as an Intifada movement, and depict the Indian state as an oppressor, misrepresenting it in religious terms to draw sympathy from other Islamic countries.
Fake social media accounts
A senior officer with India’s counterÂ–terrorism unit said that the Directorate General of Inter Services Public Relations, the establishment’s propaganda arm, has recruited hundreds of stipend hungry interns from colleges and institutions to peddle outrageous lies against India, usually with religious overtones, using fake social media accounts.
“This army of social media foot soldiers, mentored by serving military intelligence officers, is incentivised for ‘retweets’ and ‘likes’ of anti-India posts across various platforms like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram,” the officer said .
An annually conducted internship programme trains the ‘patriotic’ social media warriors to create alarmist and disruptive posts against India. No wonder that Khan’s tirade against India on Twitter receives thousands of ‘likes’ and ‘retweets’ within minutes of posting.
It is a well-oiled machinery, supported at the highest levels within Pakistan’s military hierarchy, and works with a clear agenda.
Poor handling of pandemic
It is not clear whether Khan’s relentless exaggerations will win him political longevity in the unpredictable political scene of Pakistan’s domestic politics.
His belated announcement of creating a ‘Corona Tiger Force’ comprising cadres of his political party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI), has failed to redress the recent damage in his relations with the military establishment over poor handling of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Political circles in Pakistan are abuzz with comparisons between the more efficient leadership of Sindh Chief Minister Syed Murad Ali Shah, who belongs to the Pakistan Peoples’ Party (PPP), and Khan’s bumbling response, epitomised by the Supreme Court’s suo moto order demanding the removal of the Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Health, Zafar Mirza, for inaction.
Much before the Covid-19 pandemic struck, Pakistan was in a grip of serious self-created siege of credibility.
Charges of terror state
Pakistan’s protestations against iron clad charges of money laundering, terror financing and abetting terrorist violence in India and Afghanistan are no longer taken with sympathy in world capitals, including in the reviews of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which has placed Islamabad in the ‘Gray List’.
Growing internal instability has warded off investor confidence in Pakistan, leaving it to the mercy of China’s geo-political machinations in the form of the exploitative China-Pakistan economic corridor. The tough terms of debt repayment of CPEC projects have come to haunt Pakistan during the pandemic, forcing it to plead to China to revise the loan conditions.
Caught between a rock and a hard place, Khan has been forced to approach international donors with a begging bowl, mainly the International Monetary Fund (IMF), which has stipulated strict conditions to ease Pakistan’s debt woes, the officer explained.
Overall, no amount of tweeting on Kashmir and hate messaging against India is likely to change the stark realities of Pakistan’s internal contradictions.
Unable to control sub-nationalist movements in its own territory, Pakistan has cleverly orchestrated a distracting tactic by propping anti-India social media campaigns in which Prime Minster Khan and President Arif Alvi are leading champions.
It helps that both owe their current positions to the largesse and expediency of the military-intelligence establishment. The coronavirus pandemic has not discouraged Pakistan from continuing its destabilising activities in Kashmir and Afghanistan, where terrorist groups nurtured and armed by it have displayed renewed activity.
Successive military reverses on the Indian and Afghan borders have failed to convince the power brokers in Rawalpindi that Pakistan’s long-term interests lie in giving up terrorism as an instrument of state policy and making peace with its neighbours on reasonable terms, free of coercion.
Pakistan’s convoluted narrative, which tends to emphasise the religious factor against India, conveniently skips mentioning the fact that the number of Muslims in India is larger than the number of Muslims in Pakistan.
“In nursing a deep sense of revenge against India, Pakistan has knowingly cut its nose to spite its face,” the officer said. Khan’s obsessive tweets on India and Kashmir are but a parody in the desultory farce that unwittingly strips the artificial construct of Pakistan, one frame at a time.