Exclusive: Time to take information warfare seriously: Zaid Hamid

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Zaid Hamid, defence analyst, political commentator and spiritual scholar, has said that Pakistan needs to take information warfare very seriously.

Talking exclusively to Baaghi TV, he said blocking the Twitter accounts of Kashmiris or those who used to talk in favour of Kashmir is against the international laws and the UN Charter as Kashmir is a disputed territory and not an integral part of India. “My Twitter account is also in the watch-list at number 102.”

It is pertinent to mention here that Twitter has blocked several accounts and withheld dozens of tweets in many others after it received official communication from the Indian government asking it to block accounts and tweets, most of these related to Kashmir. In a letter written on August 24, the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology asked Twitter to block 19 accounts, most of these with tweets about Kashmir. It additionally mentioned 95 tweets in various handles, also on Kashmir, which it wanted to be blocked. In an earlier communication on August 16, the government had identified 95 accounts to be blocked, in addition to tweets, Twitter searches and hashtags, Indian Express reported.

 

Hamid said every form of social media (Twitter, Facebook etc.) has some agreement with different governments of the world. According to the international law, every social media platform has a binding on it that when any government – which it has made agreement with – has asked or make any request to Twitter, Facebook or any other social media platform for blocking of any content contrary to the national interests of a particular country then the Facebook, Twitter etc. will give the request a review.

He went on to say that India has made an agreement with the Twitter and the Indian government is exploiting it with an argument that the sentiments in favour of Kashmir are against its national interest and the violation of international law. “Every Pakistani citizen cannot violate the Indian law because they do not come under its jurisdictions. India has also pleaded that Kashmiris are violating its law but Kashmiris also do not fall under the Indian law as Kashmir is a disputed territory according to the United Nations resolutions and not an integral part of India.”

The defence analyst said that the government of Pakistan should contact the Twitter administration with a plea that there is a freedom movement going on in the Indian-occupied Kashmir and Twitter cannot single-handedly shutdown the accounts of Kashmiris or those persons who used to speak in favour of the Kashmiris’ freedom struggle. This single-handed action of closing a large number of Twitter accounts is the violation of UN Charter and international law.

The Pakistani government has yet not made any agreement with the Twitter. “Since the issue of blasphemous caricatures arose, the administration of Twitter had asked the government of Pakistan to come and sign an agreement with us and we will close all such accounts which the Pakistani government thinks are against the religion or state. The government neither contacted nor sent any delegation to hold talks with the Twitter administration. Nawaz Sharif government was also not interested in this important issue and now the Shahid Khaqaan Abbasi’s government is also following the footsteps of his predecessor. “There is no presence of government of Pakistan at any forum.”

 

To a question about having a permanent foreign minister in the shape of Khawaja Asif, he said Khawaja Asif’s appointment is just like as if you appoint Mullah Fazlullah as the country’s foreign minister. Asif is habitual of speaking against Kashmir and Pakistan Army. Everyone is aware of Khawaja Asif’s speech against Pakistan Army in the parliament. “A man can change his designation but cannot change his instinct.”

It is the utmost level of ignorance and stupidity that a man like Fazlur Rehman, head of Kashmir Committee, will ever take up the issue of Kashmir at any international forum. Kashmiris themselves boycott Fazlur Rehman citing the reason that he used to speak the language of Indian Congress. You cannot expect from Hussain Ahmed Madni, Indian Islamic scholar, to stand with Quaid-e-Azam and speak against the Congress – this is not possible. People like Fazlur Rehman are the followers of Hussain Ahmed Madni’s ideology.

Several times Anusha Rehman, State Minister for Information Technology and Telecommunication, has been asked to sign an agreement with Twitter to block objectionable and anti-Pakistan content from being published but she never did the needful in this regard. All she needs to do is to write a letter to the Twitter administration and tell them about the official accounts but she has not done it yet.

To another question, Hamid said all the documentation of signing an agreement with the Twitter administration is ready but no one from the government has bothered going there to sign it.

Twitter has emailed to all these accounts which it is going to block. The list of blocked accounts or those accounts with a warning included mine also at the serial number 102. The Indian government wants to block all such accounts from the social media which India fears can expose their atrocities in Kashmir in general and on other Indian Muslims in particular. This is the war rather the information warfare and you cannot allow your enemy to win this form of war. This information warfare needs to be taken very seriously.

To a question about Kashmiri leadership of Azad Jammu and Kashmir, he said everyone witnessed how the Prime Minister of Kashmir, Raja Farooq Haider responded following the disqualification of former premier Nawaz Sharif. Haider faced flak due to his remarks, “Will think which country we should be annexed to.” Such people are outrightly the traitors of Pakistan.

“Every civilian government used to appoint Fazlur Rehman as the head of Kashmir Committee when every Pakistani citizen knows appointing Fazlur Rehman on such a key post is tantamount to damaging the Kashmir cause. He is making foreign trips on national exchequer but talks in Indian favour,” he added.

Hamid said Nawaz Sharif did not expose Kulbhushan Jadhav and Shahid Khaqaan Abbasi is also not talking about the Indian terrorist. They always consider Indian interests first. If the government will not take this information warfare seriously then it is tantamount to whipping your armed forces and hurting your national interest.

“They have issued a warning to me about blocking my Twitter account. I have aptly replied to the Twitter administration but Pakistani government should respond to it forthwith at the state level as the Indian government is striving hard to get all the pro-Kashmiri accounts closed,” he said.

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