Parachinar incident: Social media being used to brew conspiracy against Pakistan and its army

The world is a changed place. Wars are no longer fought in the fields. Instead in this age of information and technology, wars are fought in comfortable refuges. The aim of such wars isn’t to cause physical damage to the opponent. The winners of such wars aren’t decided by the number of soldiers dead or the number of enemy tanks destroyed. The aim is to weaken the enemy from within.

Propaganda wars are the new mode of warfare between powers that be. Excessive amounts of funds are utilised in these propaganda wars in a world which now understands that actual battles on the field are too much of a burden for the economies of countries to bear. To dwindle the support the base of the opponent to make the cause of your opponent look so evil that even the most loyal of supporter backs away from supporting such a cause.

Pakistani army is facing such a 5th generation war. It is no secret that a lot of money is spent on social media. Social media teams are formed more to defame one’s opponent than to give own views. The enemies of Pakistan are clearly using social media to weaken Pakistan army which is perhaps the only institution holding Pakistan, a country facing the battle of existence together.

Within the last few weeks I have observed that organised campaigns have been launched against the army. Organised campaigns of spreading disinformation and hate. Accusations of sectarianism and ethnic bias clearly aimed to enrage the already disgruntled minorities of Pakistan. Fake accounts of individuals who claim to be Balochs are common site on twitter. Such accounts constantly complain of oppression and violence by Pakistan army using fake pictures taken from Syria or Iraq. Prominent leaders of parties, such as MQM, which are known to have foreign connections also constantly complain that Rangers in Karachi is rapidly Talibanizing the city of Karachi proving no proof despite facts on the ground showing that actually target-killing and terrorism has decreased significantly since Rangers’ deployment.

A recent example of the constant social media bashing of the Pakistani army based on sectarianism was the attack in Parachinar. News that FC personnel killed protestors after the Parachinar blast kept doing rounds on different prominent twitter accounts. Such accounts run by prominent social media activists claimed that FC killed these protestors protesting for their rights because they were Shiites and because the army has some sort of agenda against the Shiites – a claim which is baseless with top Generals being Shiites.

It is sad to note that some political parties including the social media teams of the ruling party taking part in such campaigns for petty political gains. They have succeeded in creating an atmosphere in which it is “cool” to blame everything on the army AKA “Establishment” aiming to deprive the army of its main source of power, the support of its people.

The response to all this hate spewing has also been very ineffective. A few bloggers were recently arrested (and then released) only providing them more fame and relevance to continue their malicious campaign against the military. The false accusations made on the army aren’t timely rebutted both by the military and the civilian government which is itself on bad terms with the military.

The motive for writing this article wasn’t to suggest that the army is faultless and can never be criticised. The army sometimes does transcend its constitutional limits, sometimes out of necessity and sometimes due to miscalculations and ill intentions of a few military generals but whenever criticising policies, we should keep in mind that we are discussing perhaps the only functional institution of a country that is facing serious challenges.

Having said that, the army should also be clearer about its operations about which misinformation is spread. The government and the army should be very careful in every step they take and the people should be extremely careful before believing any news they see in these troubled times as the enemies of Pakistan are unfortunately numerous and powerful.

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