Every second of the minute, every minute of the hour, every hour of the day, Southeast Asia runs the threat of a full-fledged war between the two nuclear-enabled countries, India and Pakistan. If the grave possibility of a nuclear (the N word is to Southeast Asia what Voldemort is to Hogwarts) threat wasn’t bad enough, now we have Pakistani websites adding fuel to the ignited tension between the two neighbours.
The Pakistan Defense Forum (PDF), which is famous within the Indian and Pakistani defence enthusiasts circles, as a forum for debate and deliberation on Pakistani defence, strategic and security issues, has drawn flak internationally. Their move to upload a morphed picture of Indian student activist Kawalpreet Kaur had led Twitter to suspend the verified account of this unofficial forum on Saturday.
In the original photograph, Delhi University student Kawalpreet is standing infront of the Jama Masjid, holding up a sheet of paper that bears the message: “I am a citizen of India and I stand with secular values of our Constitution. I will write against communal mob lynching of Muslims in our country #CitizensAgainstMobLynching.”
But in the image the Pakistan Defence Forum tweeted, the text had changed: “I am an Indian, but I hate India, because India is a colonial nation that has occupied nations such as Nagas, Kashmiris, Manipuris, Hyderabad, Junagard, Sikkim, Mizoram, Goa.” Attached to the image, Pakistan Defence Forum tweeted, “Indians are finally realizing the truth; their country is actually a colonialist entity.” It deleted the tweet later. Having both retired and serving military personnel among it’s members, this is not the first time the PDF has attempted to perpetuate hate propaganda against India.
With almost 308,500 followers, Pakistan Defence Forum’s Twitter handle interestingly had more threads about India than Pakistan. But what is more interesting is the element of choice exercised by PDF’s social media team. Kawalpreet, a senior member of the All India Student’s Association, has been active in DU politics for long and is a well-known face in the student politics of Delhi. A crucial question to be asked at this point of time is, why her? For all that PDF’s social media expertise is worth, it could have morphed any photograph to communicate their hate propaganda against India, but it chose to target a student’s union leader studying in the premier institution of the country. In this context, is a controversy afoot to deliberately target a high-flying student activist, or can it simply be considered a PJ by the PDF? Using a morphed picture on such a sensitive issue not only has the possibility of fuelling greater tension between the two neighbours but could also put this girl’s life in danger. To this effect has been outrage expressed by the student community of DU and other institutions. The issue of Kaur’s photo being doctored was also flagged by Shehla Rashid, the former vice president of JNU Students Union, who contended that forum should not use such images in the name of the Kashmir issue.
Considering its legacy, PDF must have strategised their actions and policies more carefully if they wish to remain relevant in their chosen crusade of helping Pakistan’s image. Food (read: feud) for Thought: Substance will win over image any time, all the time.
What is astoundingly outrageous is the instance of a senior member of the Pakistan Defense Forum retorting back to the criticism in the official page of PDF in the words, “The amount of shameless fake propaganda Indians do against us, there is-nothing wrong in us doing the same against India. Well done PDF.” If offense is the best defense that PDF could muster, they could have atleast recruited better photoshop experts.
Feature Image Credits: Times of India
Vaibhavi Sharma Pathak