In Focus

EU DisinfoLab Report: Indian Crimes Require Legal Action

Beware of false knowledge; it is more dangerous than ignorance. 

— George Bernard Shaw

In this age of modernity and civility, there should be zero tolerance for organized campaigns of disinformation and defamation against any member state of the United Nations. There are certain international norms that must be respected, for instance, “No Foreign Interference” in the affairs of international institutions such as the United Nations (UN) and European Union (EU). 


The recommendations of the EU DisinfoLab are of great significance. While concluding the report on page 88, EU DisinfoLab made recommendations to the policymakers, wherein, the most significant part is precisely reproduced here: “We are alarmed to see the continuation of Indian Chronicles which – despite our first report and wide press coverage – has pursued its 15-year long operation and even recently launched EU Chronicle, a fake EU outlet. This should serve as a call to action for decision-makers to put in place a relevant framework to sanction actors engaging in disinformation and abusing international institutions. It is possible that the absence of messages from the institutions affected by Indian Chronicles provided the space and opportunity for the operation to reinvent itself and to continue doing “more of the same”.”


Advancement in Information Technology (IT) is an element of global power, however, it has also become a pivotal national security risk for the states. The abuse of Information Technology has changed the power dynamics between rival states. Extensive digital transformation of societies has ultimately made cyber warfare a reality. Pakistan’s cunning rival India is going all out to damage Pakistan’s reputation and interest by deploying every technique which is even below the standards of civility and infringes upon the settled international norms. 
As a matter of fact, international norms exist as a constraint on foreign policy of the states but India has violated all international norms in pursuit of its hegemonic policies. India has been organizing all sorts of campaigns to malign Pakistan before the international community, which was never a secret. However, recently, a comprehensive 89-page report titled “Indian Chronicles” has been published by a Brussels based non-profit EU DisinfoLab on December 9, 2020. It has uncovered the truth behind malicious Indian narrative against Pakistan. EU DisinfoLab is an independent non-profit organization focused on tackling sophisticated disinformation campaigns targeting the EU, its member states, its core institutions and core values, therefore, according to its mandate vide its report, it has exposed sophisticated, strategic and well-funded malicious Indian disinformation campaign against Pakistan. It is an international cybercrime committed by India. Above all, the report identifies how the sanctity of international institutions such as UN and the EU has been violated to achieve the desired goals. 


Seeing the magnitude of propaganda and the way world’s premier institution and individuals were used/misled, it is suggested that all Pakistani diplomatic missions abroad should officially write to their respective receiving states highlighting the EU DisinfoLab report and seeking support for implementation of the recommendations of the EU DisinfoLab and requesting legal action wherever the fake hostile entities are registered or have operated to malign Pakistan. Pakistan should officially request the UN and EU, seeking comprehensive framework to stop such disinformation campaigns against Pakistan. 


According to the report, there is a vast network of 750+ fake media outlets, 550+ website domain names registered through fake personas and at least 10 United Nations accredited NGOs serving Indian interest by lobbying against Pakistan, carrying out anti-Pakistan activities and cyber warfare led by Srivastava Group of India since 2005, spanning over 116 countries of the world.  
The recommendations of the EU DisinfoLab are of great significance. While concluding the report on page 88, EU DisinfoLab made recommendations to the policymakers, wherein, the most significant part is precisely reproduced here: “We are alarmed to see the continuation of Indian Chronicles which – despite our first report and wide press coverage – has pursued its 15-year long operation and even recently launched EU Chronicle, a fake EU outlet. This should serve as a call to action for decision-makers to put in place a relevant framework to sanction actors engaging in disinformation and abusing international institutions. It is possible that the absence of messages from the institutions affected by Indian Chronicles provided the space and opportunity for the operation to reinvent itself and to continue doing “more of the same”.” 
The conclusion speaks for itself. No legal action is encouraging India to continue its crimes against international institutions such as the UN and EU. The most unfortunate aspect of this whole reality is rightly explained in the abovementioned conclusion that in 2019 EU DisinfoLab published its partial report uncovering the malicious Indian campaign against Pakistan and now in December 2020, it has published an extensive report on this subject but the disinformation campaign is still ongoing. In May 2020, EU Chronicle, a Belgium-based fake media outlet supposedly covering European affairs, was launched to spread disinformation for the purpose of serving Indian interests and to damage Pakistan’s reputation. Moreover, now even though it has been a few weeks but still no proportionate and adequate action has been announced by either the UN or EU. 
Therefore, what Pakistan needs to do is to highlight its genuine grievances and to expose the Indian nefarious campaign before the world community. It is most pertinent to mention here that if this was done against India, by now there would have been calls for public inquiry and sanctions. Therefore, Pakistan must vigorously follow the lead provided by the EU DisinfoLab report to protect its national interest and reputation. 
Seeing the magnitude of propaganda and the way world’s premier institution and individuals were used/misled, it is suggested that all Pakistani diplomatic missions abroad should officially write to their respective receiving states highlighting the EU DisinfoLab report and seeking support for implementation of the recommendations of the EU DisinfoLab and requesting legal action wherever the fake hostile entities are registered or have operated to malign Pakistan. Pakistan should officially request the UN and EU, seeking comprehensive framework to stop such disinformation campaigns against Pakistan. 
Activities of such fake entities are extensively mentioned in the report, for example: (1) World Environment and Resources Council (WERC) – The WERC was created in the 1970s in The Hague to “Promote the sciences, whether theoretical or applied, of environment improvement and resource utilization in whatever system or field they arise”. It provided a physical address in Belgium to the UN in 2005 despite the absence of any meaningful activity in the 2000s. According to the Union of International Associations, the WERC has ceased to exist. But that does not prevent it from being "represented" at the United Nations. Therefore, a complaint should be filed to the UN to delist the WERC and to hold proper inquiry as to who were the parties involved in facilitating such illegal endeavours. (2) Centre for Environmental and Management Studies (CEMS) is an NGO which has given its fake permanent address of Toronto, Canada to the UN, which after the investigation was found to be the address of another company i.e., a Regus office (Ref: Page 15 of the Executive Summary issued by EU DisinfoLab), therefore, a complaint should be filed with the UN to delist the said NGO. 


Because of these alarming facts, there is a need of a public inquiry leading to a formal investigation at the UN and EU level to completely unearth this disinformation campaign, which will discourage disinformation campaigns against countries. It will also discourage foreign interference in the affairs of international institutions such as the UN and EU and above all, it will protect universal values such as the right to correct information.


Pakistan should identify the hostile fake NGOs and should register official complaint with the authorities in Brussels, where these NGOs are registered. It is for Belgian authorities to scrutinize the NGOs operating within its jurisdiction. Pakistan should file a formal complaint to the UN and EU against the impersonation of Professor Louis B. Sohn – one of the leading international law scholars of the 20th century and a Harvard Law faculty member for 39 years – seeking criminal investigation against the impersonators and their accomplices. 
It would not be out of place to mention here that independent activists from Europe are raising their voice against Indian crimes. For instance, on December 21, 2020, Pakistan’s leading newspaper Dawn published a report on this issue titled “EU activist seeks legal action against India over fake news network”. The report stated: “This should have consequences for Indian government that has the final responsibility. The Indian government should be held accountable for this in the court,” said Mr. Vermaut, an official member of the International Alliance for the Defence of Rights and Freedoms, an NGO with participatory status to the United Nations’ ECOSOC committee and also the president of PostVersa, Human Rights and Fundamental Rights chapter. In an interview with Islamabad Policy Research Institute, he suggested that all the victim parties need to sit down together for legal proceedings against India for the “enormous damage” caused to Pakistan, China, the European Union, the United Nations as well as the minorities living in India, who were already suffering due to the policies of New Delhi. “If we do not do this, new sites will be created tomorrow. We will have to act on this,” said Mr. Vermaut.
It is important for Pakistan to file complaints to the Secretary-General of the UN, President of the United Nations Human Rights Council (UNHRC) and President of EU highlighting Indian interference in the UN and EU Institutions. Pakistan should also request formulation of a comprehensive framework to stop such nefarious campaigns against Pakistan that also violated the sanctity of the UN and EU. In these complaints, Pakistan should demand for public inquiry of the breaches and violations committed by the disinformation campaign, which has been exposed by EU DisinfoLab. Because of these alarming facts, there is a need of a public inquiry leading to a formal investigation at the UN and EU level to completely unearth this disinformation campaign, which will discourage disinformation campaigns against countries. It will also discourage foreign interference in the affairs of international institutions such as the UN and EU and above all, it will protect universal values such as the right to correct information. 
It is time to set an example for states and to tell India that it cannot get away with crimes it has committed against Pakistan and international institutions such as the UN and EU. There is a dire need of strict legal action to be taken by the UN and EU to ensure that in future no member state should misuse forums like the UN and EU for their own vested interests.


The writer is Advocate Supreme Court of Pakistan based in Islamabad. He had also been teaching Constitutional Law at Secretariat Training Institute, Islamabad. 
E-mail: [email protected]
 

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