Last year, India's ex foreign secretary Sujata Singh bitterly complained about negative stories "planted in the media" by the Modi government to "tarnish" her reputation as part of the campaign to force her resignation. "The commentary that I have seen over the past two days has pained me deeply. I believe it was not necessary to get low and dirty," she said, according to India's First Post.

RAW Planted Stories:

Doing a Google search today on news about Pakistan shows the first page of the search results filled with negative stories that seem obviously planted by the Modi government in highly search-engine-optimized Indian media.

The planted stories present Indian Army's claimed "surgical strikes" in Pakistan as fact. They do not bother to put quotes around "surgical strikes" as international media have done. They do not ask any questions nor offer proof of such "surgical strikes".

Some of these planted stories claim "mass public protests" and "Pakistan flag burnings" in Azad Kashmir, Gilgit Baltistan and Balochistan  without offering any evidence.  Other such made-up stories are about civil-military tensions in Pakistan and the country's "international isolation".

Psychological Operations (PsyOps): 

Who plants these stories? And how? Let us examine this in a little more detail.

Professor Shyam Tekwani of the Asia Pacific Center for Security Studies in Hawaii has studied how the Indian government plants stories as part of its psychological operations (PsyOps). Here's an excerpt from his book "Media and Conflict Reporting in Asia":

"With a huge deployment of army, paramilitary and police forces fighting a host of separatist rebel armies, psyops has become a regular feature of journalism in conflict-ridden zones like India's Kashmir and northeastern states. The army and the paramilitary forces, the intelligence agencies and even state police have their own budgets and dedicated psyops. While most organizations use their intelligence units and public relations officials to perform the task, the Indian army has a full-fledged psyops cell in the Directorate of Military Intelligence... Bigger intelligence agencies like the Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) employ media directors, mostly drawn from the Indian Information Service......And what do they do? Plant and push stories that run down the enemy and their image, promote their own cause and image, cover their track on a secret killing or blame it falsely on others (routine for them to pass off a secret killing by their assets as "infighting among  rebels") and create feel-good atmosphere about their own operations.....Psyops planners carefully take into account 

capabilities of their own "media assets" and the reach of the media they work for and whether the "plant" would hit the target area and create the necessary impact. It is war through the media--whoever said pen is mightier than sword is vindicated--but at the cost of professional journalism."

RAW Money Flow:

India has opened up a big money money spigot to use its agents, including its media assets, to destabilize Pakistan. RK Yadav, an ex intelligence official of RAW, has in a TV interview (Siyasat Ki Baat with RK Yadav video 6:00 minutes), talked about RAW agents with "suitcases and cupboards full of money".

Current National Security Advisor has talked about RAW recruiting terrorists with one-and-a-half times the money they are making from other sources.

RK Yadav has, in his book "Mission R&AW",  written about RAW money paid to late Pakistani politician Khan Abul Wali Khan in 1970s. He's also confirmed the existence of RAW-inspired 1960s Agartala Conspiracy that recruited Shaikh Mujib ur Rehman's Awami League to work for Indian intelligence.

More recently, London Police documents have revealed the testimony of MQM leaders Muhammad Anwar and Tariq Mir confirming that Altaf Husain received money from Indian intelligence.

Ex RAW chief A.S. Dulat has said "money goes a long way in Kashmir" intelligence operations.  Part of the money, it seems, is now flowing though the " RAW's media directors" and their "media assets" as described by Professor Tekwani in "Media and Conflict Reporting in Asia".

Western Media:

Western media often use a few stringers in conflict zones to file reports. These stringers are low-paid locals who are more prone to manipulation by authorities than more experienced better-paid correspondents. 

Professor Shyam Tekwani explains that foreign agencies like the Associated Press (AP) or Agence France Press (AFP) and even BBC often create a stringer monopoly of just one or two that feeds news to all the top global media outlets. Just a couple of stringers can be used by RAW to influence the entire global media reporting on Kashmir. 

Pakistani Media:

Pakistani media has grown from about 2,000 journalists in the year 2000 to nearly 20,000 of them now. Rapid growth has meant that many of them are inexperienced and naive. Some of them pick up the planted stories from India and publish them. Others lack conscience and do it for money.


Indian media is abuzz with anti-Pakistan stories fabricated by "RAW's media directors" and planted by their "media assets" described by Professor Shyam Tekwani in his book "Media and Conflict Reporting in Asia" . These stories are part of Indian government's campaign to slander Pakistan to achieve the following objectives:

1. Deflect world attention from Indian Army atrocities in Kashmir.

2.  Cover up India's proxy war of terror in Pakistan.

3. Isolate Pakistan internationally.

4. Sabotage China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

It's important for Pakistanis to not only understand what India is doing but also make a serious effort to make the world aware of it.

Related Links:

Haq's Musings

Noam Chomsky on Indian Media

700,000 Indian Soldiers Vs 10 Million Kashmiris

Modi's Covert War in Pakistan

ADB Raises Pakistan GDP Growth Forecast

Gwadar as Hong Kong West

China-Pakistan Industrial Corridor

Indian Spy Kulbhushan Yadav's Confession

Ex Indian Spy Documents RAW Successes Against Pakistan

Saleem Safi of GeoTV on Gwadar

Pakistan FDI Soaring with Chinese Money for CPEC

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Comment by Riaz Haq on October 11, 2016 at 9:57am

Excerpt from "Studies in Intelligence, Journal of the American Intelligence Professional" December 2009: 

"The Indian government put few restrictions on the influx of Soviet journalists, and in the 1980s more than 150 KGB and GRU (military intelligence) officers served on the subcontinent. Many of them were busy planting biased or false stories in the Indian papers. According to KGB archivist and defector Vasili Mirokhin, the KGB planted 5,510 stories in this way in 1975 alone and controlled 10 Indian newspapers and one news agency. KGB officers boasted to one another that there was no shortage of Indian journalists and politicians willing to take money."

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 11, 2016 at 10:42am

The growing cancer of paid news in Indian media:

The media being infected with a 'cancer called paid news' is an issue debated many a time. During this year's Maharashtra assembly elections, this cancer magnified so grievously that, if not dealt with immediately, it could end the media's credibility.

Akin to the Lok Sabha elections earlier this year, the BJP led the race in marketing and advertising. But this time around, the party was not content with front page advertisements in newspapers. It went a step further. Prime Minister Narendra Modi's speech at New York's Madison Square Garden was telecast across all Marathi news channels during prime time. BJP leaders conceded they had to pay up to Rs 20 lakh per episode, which means the whole deal cost them in crores. The moot question, however, is: should the media sell its prime time slot, which is globally reserved only for news, to a political party?

BJP leader Vinay Sahastrabudhe said in a television debate the party went ahead with the plan only after a green signal from the Election Commission (EC). But the Congress has lodged a complaint with the EC, demanding it be regarded as paid news, followed by strong action against it.

What is exactly paid news? An advertisement disguised as editorial is paid news. Published content and TV news is taken seriously, hence political parties plant stories in the media, promoting its candidate. The transaction, obviously, happens in cash.

In this case, however, there was nothing opaque about the way BJP went about its business. It bought the prime time slot legally, and openly advertised about it. In fact, the whole issue was highlighted because of their ad. Morally, it should have been avoided. But the real culprits are the editors who sold their conscience just because a political party was willing to buy it. Some channels stooped so low, they did not even disclose the fact that it was an ad, thereby deceiving its viewers. According to TRAI regulations, TV channels are not supposed to exceed the limit of 10 minutes of advertisements per 30 minutes. One must scrutinise if the channels have disregarded this regulation.

This episode has given birth to several issues. Should a PM's address, during his official visit as the leader of a country, be reduced to election campaigning? According to the BJP, it was a private program. But one should not forget Modi was representing India while in the US. Has the EC rule been undermined? The EC must come up with a well thought out decision because one of its regulations insinuates that the PM, CM or any minister's address as an official should not be used for party campaigning.

The second and more important question is about the freedom of the media and viewers. Management selling editorial slots is an attack on the soul of journalism. Gradually, ads have settled themselves on newspapers' front pages. Showing an 'ad disguised as speech' during the 9.00pm slot is an attack on the editorial right as well as viewers' right to watch news, isn't it? It is no secret that hundreds of crores are required to sustain a channel. But if this trend continues, it will injure journalism fatally. Is it a deliberate conspiracy by vested interests?

Because if a watchdog collapses, everyone is free to do anything.

There is no point projecting this issue as 'the BJP vs Congress'. The foundations of paid news were laid during the Congress regime. Former CM Ashok Chavan's case is a well-known example. Today, the Congress is going hammer and tongs against the BJP, but what are the odds of Congress not doing the same when the tables are reversed? If all the biggies keep this money game alive and kicking, what will happen to small political parties, which do not have such money power? How does our democracy remain a level playing field then?

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 11, 2016 at 4:59pm

How #India & #Pakistan punish journalists who write about #Kashmir. Both rank abysmally low on Press Freedom Index

In the three weeks since militants allegedly based in Pakistan attacked an Indian army compound, killing 18 soldiers, and India retaliated with “surgical strikes” to neutralize terrorist “launchpads” along the de facto border, officials in Islamabad and New Delhi have been falling over themselves to control the narrative of events. Amid mutual jingoism, paranoia and bluster, they have found it expedient to punish journalists who counter their preferred realities.

On Monday, Cyril Almeida, a columnist and reporter at Dawn, Pakistan's most prominent English-language newspaper, tweeted that he had been put on the “Exit Control List,” a roster of those forbidden from leaving the country. He had been about to embark on a family vacation. Almeida recently published a blockbuster exclusive report, which he attributed to unnamed officials, that detailed a confrontation in which Pakistan's civilian government admonished the military for abetting militant groups that operate on the borders of India and Afghanistan.


Meanwhile, in Indian-controlled Kashmir, residents are entering their third month of unrest, during which the government has imposed curfews, curtailed Internet access and prevented newspapers from printing.

On Oct. 2, the government of Jammu and Kashmir released a statement banning an English-language newspaper called the Kashmir Reader. It provided no specific reasoning for the closure, other than to claim that the paper had published “content that can incite acts of violence.” A later statement failed to pinpoint the actual story or stories that ostensibly prompted the ban, saying only that the paper had published items “disturbing public tranquility and notwithstanding the principles of rules governing the subject.”

Both India and Pakistan rank abysmally among democracies in the World Press Freedom Index. India ranks 133rd out of 180, and Pakistan ranks 147th. The governments of both countries clearly have lines that journalists should not cross, and which most do not cross for fear of repercussions.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 11, 2016 at 8:17pm

#India shut newspapers in #Kashmir. #Indians have no reason to gloat over #Pakistan's #CyrilAlmeida via @htTweets

This (Cyril Almeida travel ban) story is bound to generate a lot of interest in India. It will confirm to many their impressions that Pakistan is a nasty place. There is indeed an irony in the Pakistani State allowing LeT’s Hafiz Saeed to roam freely and it lobbying China to prevent Jaish-e-Mohammed’s Masood Azhar from being on UN list of terrorists while preventing a journalist from heading abroad just because he highlighted the rifts within the establishment. Since Pakistan gets an exaggerated amount of mind space in India, many on social media will no doubt be telling Indian liberals that they ought to be treated similarly for arguing with the Modi government or they will likely gloat that India is so much better than Pakistan when it comes to press freedom.
On both counts they need to think again – as India is not the exemplar of press freedom and individual liberty as many would like to believe. Take the case of the travel ban for Almeida for example. The idea evidently, from the Pakistani establishment point of view, is to prevent potential interactions with media peers and diplomats abroad who would be interested in civil-military dynamics in Pakistan, which is of great interest to those in Western and Asian capitals.

But fear of uncomfortable stories getting out is also a big concern for India. Priya Pillai, then working for Greenpeace, was offloaded from Delhi airport in January 2015 just as she was heading to the UK to brief its parliamentarians on mining and human rights violations in Madhya Pradesh, an act the ministry of home affairs felt was tantamount to projecting India negatively abroad.
More recently, police raided media houses and shut down newspapers in Kashmir for three days in July “to ensure peace”, in the words of the government spokesman. The daily Kashmir Reader was banned, on Gandhi Jayanti, for “publishing content that can incite acts of violence” and “disturb public tranquillity”, even though the state government is yet to explain what content it is referring to.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 14, 2016 at 11:06pm

#China refuses to support #India’s #NSG bid, #Azhar’s banning - The Hindu. #Pakistan #BRICSSummit

On the eve of President Xi Jinping’s India visit, China on Friday stuck to its guns saying that there was no change in its stand on India’s Nuclear Suppliers Group membership bid and New Delhi’s attempts to get Jaish-e-Mohammad (JeM) chief Masood Azhar designated as a terrorist by the United Nations (UN).

As Mr. Xi is due to arrive in Goa on Saturday to take part in the BRICS Summit, Chinese Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Geng Shuang said the relations between India and China made “great headway” despite some “disputes” but there was no change in in Beijing’s stand on the issues of NSG and Azhar.

“I have stated China’s position. I would like to reiterate that the UN committee dealing with the listing does it according to provisions of the UN charter,” he said while replying to a question on India’s application to ban Azhar following the Pathankot terrorist attack.

1267 Committee line

Mr. Geng, at a briefing, said China maintained that 1267 Committee of the UN designated to ban terrorist outfits should work on true facts and make a decision according to consensus of its members.

“All parties are divided in listing of the relevant people. And this is why China has put on hold banning Azhar,” he said.

The second technical hold put by China will give enough time to make the listing decision, Mr. Geng has said, adding that this also shows the responsible and professional attitude of the Chinese side.

“China’s position has not changed regarding the joining of the NSG by India,” Mr. Geng said.

‘Need for consensus on NSG issue’

Speaking on the same issue earlier this month, China’s Vice Foreign Minister Li Baodong had harped on the need to build consensus over the admission of new members in the 48-member NSG.

Mr. Geng said that he wanted to “underscore” that in recent years China and India relations had been making “great headway” despite some “disputes.” He said that the “mainstream of bilateral relations has been positive” and “cooperation far outweighs competition.”

Mr. Geng has expressed hope that the two countries can continue with dialogue and cooperation to exchange views on some disputes, seek solutions and properly manage relevant disputes.

Expediting CPEC

Meanwhile, a Chinese scholar, Hu Shisheng, Director of the China Institutes of Contemporary International Relations affiliated to the Chinese Foreign Ministry, said China may speed up the construction of the $46 billion China-Pakistan Economic Corridor which passes through Pakistan-occupied Kashmir if Pakistan was isolated and cornered by India.

“China has to discuss with Pakistan about the current situation on how to handle and how to come out it,” Mr. Hu said speaking about Pakistan’s isolation in the region leading to the postponement of the SAARC summit after the Uri terror attack in which 19 Indian soldiers were killed.

“China has to further enhance relations with Pakistan if it feels cornered. A cornered regime some times will be more desperate, which will not be conducive to political development within Pakistan,” Mr. Hu said.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 15, 2016 at 8:41pm

"How Narendra #Modi’s #surgicalstrike turned into a monumental farce" by Shivam Vij. #India #Pakistan via @qzindia

It was meant to be Narendra Modi’s moment of glory. Now it looks like a sham.
India’s military raid across the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir on Sept. 29 has become a matter of deep political bickering and crass opportunism. The Indian Army called it a surgical strike. Two weeks later, India’s politicians are still doing the autopsy.
First, there was an intense debate on whether the government should publish videos or photographic evidence of the strike after Pakistan claimed that no such strike had taken place. Similar demands, made by politicians such as Delhi chief minister Arvind Kejriwal, were dubbed “anti-national.” They were projected by the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), and some news channels, as questioning the Indian Army itself.

The government, on its part, fuelled speculation that it might publish the visual evidence after all. In off-the-record background briefings on Sept. 29, journalists were told as much.
Meanwhile, NDTV’s Barkha Dutt interviewed former home minister P. Chidambaram of the Congress party. Intriguingly, after running promos, the channel chose to not run the interview. It wanted to stand in solidarity with the army and not broadcast it as “political mud-slinging regarding the surgical strikes without a shred of evidence was actually damaging to our national security.”
Chidambaram later said he had mentioned nothing controversial in the interview. He told The Indian Express that all he said was that the Congress party supported the strike and whatever decision the government takes, his party would back it. He also said that it might not be a bad idea to put out the evidence, not because he didn’t believe the Indian Army, but merely to call Pakistan’s bluff.
Now, how was this damaging to national security, as NDTV claimed?

In any case, after days of speculation, the government ultimately decided to not release any evidence after all.
However, there is another contentious debate that is far from over.
The surgical strike was presented by the Modi government and media as a first: Finally, India had crossed the LoC, giving up its policy of strategic restraint in dealing with Pakistan. At long last, the country had shown that it was capable of “responding.” Not even during the 1999 Kargil war had India crossed the LoC.
So, Modi meant business, or so it was claimed.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 17, 2016 at 11:00am

NY Times Op Ed by Mohammad Hanif:

Once, in a TV studio near Delhi almost eight years ago, I tried to stop a war between India and Pakistan and left thinking: Let them fight. It’s never a good idea to join a TV debate when those two are on the brink of yet another war.

I was visiting Delhi just after the 2008 Mumbai terrorist attacks, and my publisher persuaded me to accept an invitation to discuss Indo-Pak relations. I was the only Pakistani among the half dozen panelists, mostly Indian ex-generals and defense experts, all apparently trying to start and win a war with outrageous sound bites.

As the panelists made their case, a map flashed on a studio screen, and crude animated Indian missiles blew up one Pakistani city after another. The panelists called these cities targets. There was a live poll during the program. It asked viewers a simple question: Should India carry out targeted strikes in Pakistan? Suddenly, it was my duty to convince millions of Indians that attacking my country wasn’t such a good idea.

I was scared, but I tried. I mumbled something about the fact that the cities being annihilated on the show’s virtual map were not terrorist training camps but regular places with ordinary folk. Yes, there were terrorists in Pakistan, but I didn’t have their addresses. I pleaded peace. For the first time I realized how some words, like some countries, are stronger than others. The phrases my co-panelists were using — surgical strikes, hot pursuit, psy-ops, befitting reply — had power, immediacy, significance. They sounded like calls to action — like jumping in a raging sea to save your baby from drowning, like rushing with a bucket of water toward a house on fire.


Most reports on Indo-Pak tensions remind us that the two countries have gone to war over Kashmir three times. What they fail to mention is that all these wars achieved was to obliterate the aspirations of Kashmiri people. In the din of conflict, the first voice to be silenced is theirs. In the current noise hardly any one notices that since July some 1,000 Kashmiris have sustained eye injuries because Indian forces are firing at them with pellet guns.

Saner pundits say: Nothing much more will happen; it’s all bluster; India and Pakistan would not go to war again because both have nuclear weapons. I hope they are right, but I am reminded of the massacres during Partition in 1947, when we didn’t have bombs and had few automatic guns. With knives and rods we managed to kill more than a million people. We didn’t have Twitter to ignite the violence; we managed to do it by word of mouth, through pamphlets and rumors that said, let’s kill them before they kill us. Now those rumors are in our living rooms, accompanied by animated maps.

Peace doesn’t make good TV. Dialogue is not an exciting visual. The history of Kashmir doesn’t fit into 140 characters. While peaceniks on both sides of the border search for a new vocabulary, we need a few moments of quiet mourning.

Comment by Riaz Haq on October 21, 2016 at 10:52am

South Asian media
All hail. The Economist

India’s press is more craven than Pakistan’s
Oct 22nd 2016 | DELHI | From the print edition

most Indians assume, their media are freer. When Cyril Almeida, a Pakistani journalist, revealed earlier this month that he had been banned from travelling abroad after writing a story that embarrassed Pakistan’s security forces, India’s tabloid press gloated.

The Schadenfreude proved short-lived. To general surprise, Mr Almeida’s colleagues rallied in noisy support. Pakistani newspapers, rights groups, journalists’ clubs and social media chorused outrage at his persecution. The pressure worked; the ban got lifted.

On the Indian side of the border, however, there has not been much critical examination of the government’s actions. Instead, Indian media have vied to beat war drums the loudest.

When an army spokesman, providing very few details, announced on September 29th that India had carried out a retaliatory “surgical strike” against alleged terrorist bases along the border, popular news channels declared it a spectacular triumph and an act of subtle statecraft. Some anchors took to describing India’s neighbour as “terror state Pakistan”. One station reconfigured its newsroom around a sandbox-style military diorama, complete with flashing lights and toy fighter planes. A parade of mustachioed experts explained how “our boys” would teach Pakistan a lesson it would never forget.

Such jingoism was predictable, given the fierce competition for ratings among India’s news groups. Disturbingly, however, the diehard nationalists have gone on the offensive against fellow Indians, too.

This month NDTV, a news channel with a reputation for sobriety, advertised an interview with Palaniappan Chidambaram, a former finance minister from the opposition Congress party. Mr Chidambaram was expected to say that previous governments had also hit back at Pakistan, but with less fanfare than the present one. Abruptly, however, NDTV cancelled the show. An executive sniffed that it was “not obliged to carry every shred of drivel” and would not “provide a platform for outrageous and wild accusations”.

Arnab Goswami, the anchor of a particularly raucous talk show, has declared that critics of the government should be jailed. Extreme nationalists in Mumbai, India’s commercial capital, have urged filmmakers to ban Pakistani actors. One party has threatened to vandalise cinemas that dare show a Bollywood romance, “Ae Dil Hai Mushkil”, due for release later this month, which features Fawad Khan, a Pakistani heartthrob. The film’s director, Karan Johar, has aired a statement declaring his patriotism, explaining that the film was shot before the current trouble and promising never again to work with talent from “the neighbouring country”. One commentator described his performance as akin to a hostage pleading for mercy.

Why, asks Mr Chidambaram, are the media toeing the government line so slavishly? Some answer that they have become ever more concentrated in the hands of big corporations, many of which carry heavy debts and so are wary of offending the party in power. Others ascribe the shrinking space for dissent to the unchecked rise of chauvinist Hindu-nationalist groups. Repressive colonial-era laws on sedition and libel also play a part.

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 6, 2017 at 4:55pm

Information Operations: It Takes a Thief

At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing yesterday on foreign cyber threats to the U.S., there were several references to the saying that “people who live in glass houses should not throw stones.” The point, made by DNI James Clapper, was that the U.S. should not be too quick to penalize the very espionage practices that U.S. intelligence agencies rely upon, including clandestine collection of information from foreign computer networks.

But perhaps a more pertinent saying would be “It takes a thief to catch a thief.”

U.S. intelligence agencies should be well-equipped to recognize Russian cyber threats and political intervention since they have been tasked for decades to carry out comparable efforts.

A newly disclosed intelligence directive from 1999 addresses “information operations” (IO), which are defined as: “Actions taken to affect adversary information and information systems while defending one’s own information and information systems.”

“Although still evolving, the fundamental concept of IO is to integrate different activities to affect [adversary] decision making processes, information systems, and supporting information infrastructures to achieve specific objectives.”

The elements of information operations may include computer network attack, computer network exploitation, and covert action.

See Director of Central Intelligence Directive 7/3, Information Operations and Intelligence Community Related Activities, effective 01 July 1999.

The directive was declassified (in part) on December 2 by the Interagency Security Classification Appeals Panel, and was first obtained and published by

Comment by Riaz Haq on January 6, 2017 at 10:33pm

Excerpts of US Intelligence Report on Russian Hacking of DNC:

1. "Russian efforts to influence the 2016 US presidential election represent the most recent expression of Moscow's longstanding desire to undermine the US-led liberal democratic order."

2. "Russia’s goals were to undermine public faith in the US democratic process, denigrate Secretary Clinton, and harm her electability and potential presidency. "

3. "These activities demonstrated a significant escalation in directness, level of activity, and scope of effort compared to previous operations."

4. "Putin and the Russian government developed a clear preference for President-elect Trump."

5. "Russian intelligence accessed elements of multiple state or local electoral boards."

6. "In July 2015, Russian intelligence gained access to Democratic National Committee (DNC) networks and maintained that access until at least June 2016."

7. "The Kremlin and the intelligence services will continue to consider using cyber-enabled disclosure operations."

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