National and International Issues

India’s Undeclared War

Most countries in the world try to advance their political and economic interests, and diplomatic clout in line with the internationally accepted norms, but then there are rogue states, which undermine all values and principles in the games they play. In our region, India remains the prime example of such a state that is scrambling for regional and global influence by violating international and bilateral treaties, indulging in overt and covert acts of state terrorism, intimidating and bullying its neighbours and unleashing systematic disinformation campaigns in various world capitals in an attempt to win the battle of narratives. 



The tentacles of Indian network of terrorism and disinformation – both key pillars in the Fifth Generation Warfare – often get exposed also. India’s most recent setback in this game, albeit a minor one, was witnessed in Canada where authorities nabbed an Indian suspect, who was trying to influence Canadian politicians into supporting New Delhi’s policies.
According to Global News, a Canadian publication, Indian intelligence agencies – the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) and the Indian Intelligence Bureau (IB) – were behind the operation, which had started in 2009. When Global News approached Public Safety Minister Bill Blair’s office, it refused to comment on the matter, but said the government was “concerned when any country shows destabilising behaviour, including interference in other countries’ democratic systems.” The suspect arrested in this connection is being referred to as ‘A.B.’ in the court records. He is the editor-in-chief of an Indian newspaper, and his wife and son are Canadian citizens, the Global News reported.


The tentacles of Indian network of terrorism and disinformation – both key pillars in the Fifth Generation Warfare – often get exposed also. India’s most recent setback in this game, albeit a minor one, was witnessed in Canada where authorities nabbed an Indian suspect, who was trying to influence Canadian politicians into supporting New Delhi’s policies.


But in the broader cloak-and-dagger game, exposure or arrest of a secondary agent in a western country is a small setback. It is certainly not that kind of a blow to the Indian intelligence operations as happened in March 2016 when Islamabad announced the arrest of Kulbhushan Jadhav – a serving Indian Navy commander – involved in espionage and terrorism in Pakistan. 
However, Indian intelligence operations in the western countries are as crucial as that of Jadhav’s in Pakistan.
In major western capitals and cities including London, Paris, Washington and Berlin, and those which serve as the hub of UN activities – Brussels, Geneva and New York – Indian intelligence is working in a systematic way to achieve at least three broad goals that should concern Pakistan. 
Firstly, the vast Indian intelligence network is pushing New Delhi’s anti-Pakistan narrative by accusing Islamabad of sponsoring and financing terrorism and propagating against the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) as well as the country’s nuclear programme. The difficulties Pakistan faces at the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) is just one of the manifestations of the power of Indian lobbying. Though Indians have not been able to get Pakistan on the “blacklist”, they have also not let us go off the hook. Pakistan, itself the biggest victim of terrorism, will have to work hard to counter perceptions made by India in the West, where Indian-sponsored narrative has found many takers in political circles, academia and media.   


Among such groups operating in the western countries, Kashmiris and Sikhs are the main target of Indian intelligence as well as organisations like the International Dalit Solidarity Network, which speaks against the oppressive caste system of India. In many European universities, seminars, meetings and discussions aimed at highlighting the plight of occupied territories, child labour and the caste system are discouraged due to the presence of strong pro-India lobbies comprising both Indian diaspora and the local pro-India western academics.


Secondly, Indian intelligence network in Europe and North America is aggressively sponsoring, financing, and organising the small dissident so-called liberal and narrow-minded ethnic and nationalist groups from Pakistan. For example, an anti-Pakistan nationalist group has a fully-funded office in Brussels where meetings and seminars are organised in support of a terrorist organisation like the Balochistan Liberation Army (BLA), promote anti-CPEC narrative and malign the state of Pakistan. Such groups are also financed to hold protests and set-up camps outside UN offices in Geneva and Brussels. Such activities in Europe and North America are as vital for RAW’s anti-Pakistan operations as its work inside Pakistan, using Afghanistan and Iran as jumping boards.   
Thirdly, Indian intelligence remains focused on maligning, disturbing and disrupting legitimate freedom and secessionist movements trying to end the Indian rule on their territories and those demanding equal rights or opportunities. Among such groups operating in the western countries, Kashmiris and Sikhs are the main target of Indian intelligence as well as organisations like the International Dalit Solidarity Network, which speaks against the oppressive caste system of India. In many European universities, seminars, meetings and discussions aimed at highlighting the plight of occupied territories, child labour and the caste system are discouraged due to the presence of strong pro-India lobbies comprising both Indian diaspora and the local pro-India western academics. 
Needless to say, Indian intelligence and funding has played a key role in creating and sustaining such lobbies. Indian universities’ students exchange programmes with European universities are also being used for propaganda purposes. 


Though this Indian intelligence-linked media ring was also exposed, but this hardly affects its capacity and ability to keep doing what it has been doing. In fact, as the situation is becoming more challenging for India in the Occupied Kashmir in recent months, its security and intelligence networks have intensified anti-Pakistan propaganda and activities in Europe and North America.


Similarly, India has also been successful in bringing many European Union politicians into its fold through think tanks and NGOs.  
For example, last October a delegation of 27 Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) went to a supervised visit of the Indian Occupied Jammu & Kashmir. This visit raised many eyebrows in Europe as it did not include any independent and critical voices of the EU parliament, who had been demanding New Delhi to allow observers and rights activists to visit this occupied Himalayan region, especially after August 5, 2019 when New Delhi unilaterally abolished its symbolic special status guaranteed in the Indian Constitution. The unofficial EU delegation had met Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in New Delhi before visiting Srinagar. The trip was sponsored by the International Institute for Non-aligned Studies (IINS) – a New Delhi-based think tank, which also has offices in Brussels. IINS is owned by the Srivastava Group of Companies. This is just one instance of how India uses resource-rich think tanks to influence politicians in the West to advance its goals.
Then there are NGOs and think tanks that are apparently led by many discredited self-exiled Pakistani nationals, but in fact are funded by the Indian intelligence for anti-Pakistan activities. 
Similarly, many so-called news and opinion websites are busy churning out fake content, complete lies or half-lies to support India’s anti-Pakistan effort. 
In November 2019, an independent European Union NGO – EU Disinfo Lab – discovered “265 coordinated fake local media outlets that serve Indian governmental interests, among which were two Belgian ones,” The Brussels Times had reported.1


Pakistan’s civil and military leaders as well as media and academia need to analyze this growing threat and take measures to counter Indian designs on a war-footing. Countering and winning the battle of perception and narratives is now crucial for a state to ensure its unity and survival. In today’s world, a state can lose a war even before the first shot has been fired if the enemy is allowed to weave, fabricate and sell its narrative.


“The outlets are supposed to influence the EU and the UN to India’s advantage by repeatedly criticising Pakistan,” the paper reported quoting the EU Disinfo Lab.  
Though this Indian intelligence-linked media ring was also exposed, but this hardly affects its capacity and ability to keep doing what it has been doing. In fact, as the situation is becoming more challenging for India in the Occupied Kashmir in recent months, its security and intelligence networks have intensified anti-Pakistan propaganda and activities in Europe and North America.
The few instances of the Indian game quoted above is only the tip of the iceberg of India’s undeclared war against Pakistan, which has aggressively been launched on all fronts. The aim is to destabilize, soften and weaken Pakistan so that it can not effectively plead or fight the case of Indian Occupied Jammu and Kashmir and stand-up against India’s hegemonic designs in the region. 
Compared to this holistic attack through media, NGOs, think tanks and academic institutions, the regular ceasefire violations at the Line of Control and Working Boundary in the disputed Kashmir region are a much lesser challenge for the country. 
Pakistan’s civil and military leaders as well as media and academia need to analyze this growing threat and take measures to counter Indian designs on a war-footing. Countering and winning the battle of perception and narratives is now crucial for a state to ensure its unity and survival. In today’s world, a state can lose a war even before the first shot has been fired if the enemy is allowed to weave, fabricate and sell its narrative. 
In this war of narratives – unlike India – Pakistan has the power of facts, truth and righteousness of cause on its side. Therefore, it will not have to create fake websites or bank on lies and deceit. But what remains amiss on the Pakistani side is direction, unity and vigor of its efforts. Pakistani media, academia and big businesses will have to act as a vanguard in this effort and support the state in this do or die conflict with our biggest enemy.


The writer is an eminent journalist who regularly contributes for print and electronic media.
E-mail: [email protected], Twitter: @AmirZia1


1. https://www.brusselstimes.com/all-news/belgium-all-news/78572/two-belgian-media-outlets-discovered-among-hunderds-fake-news-websites-serving-indian-interests/

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