PML-N blasts govt for ‘extremely misleading’ anti-state trends report

Published August 13, 2021
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi says the report lacks any 'credible' source. — DawnNewsTV
Shahid Khaqan Abbasi says the report lacks any 'credible' source. — DawnNewsTV

The PML-N on Friday raised doubts about the credibility of a report released by the government earlier this week regarding manipulative use of social media accounts to defame Pakistan, calling it “extremely misleading and shoddy”.

The information ministry had on Wednesday launched a 135-page "Deep Analytics Report" on "Anti-State Trends" showing the operation of social media accounts from Afghanistan and India with backing from elements within Pakistan to malign the country through misleading hashtags and trends.

While sharing the report with the media, Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry had said government teams had analysed Twitter trends from June 2019 to August 2021 and "it transpired that India led the top trends against Pakistan and the biggest player which helped India was PTM (Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement) and its activists."

The minister had added: "Whether knowingly or unknowingly, representatives of the JUI-F and PML-N also tweeted under [a] hashtag created to spread misinformation."

Reacting to the report at a press conference today, senior PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi claimed that a Canada-based company which the government had cited as the source of the data had confirmed that it had neither sold any data to Pakistan nor provided it in any capacity.

He said the Canadian firm made this revelation in a statement given to Geo News programme 'Aaj Shahzeb Khanzada Kay Sath'.

“This shows that the government in Pakistan either stole the data or made it up on its own,” he alleged.

He said the data should have been garnered from a credible source or through own research.

The former prime minister noted that the government had mentioned several hashtags and trends in the report, but “it didn’t elaborate the content written under the hashtags, whether it was in favour of Pakistan or against the current government’s corruption.”

He regretted that a major part of the report targetted politicians and political parties with representation in the National Assembly and the Senate and that they had been labelled as “enemies of Pakistan”.

He also pointed out that a map shown in the report five to six times allegedly showed Kashmir as part of India. “Did these ministers take a look at the report before making it public?” he asked.

Abbasi said it was "shocking" to note that criticism of the government’s alleged corruption was dubbed as a matter of national security.

He said political leaders like Afrasiab Khattak, Bushra Gohar, Rehman Malik, Farhatullah Babar and many others were being labelled as enemies of the state just because “they talk about democracy.”

He said the country’s problems could not be resolved through tweets and “concocted” reports.

Speaking on the occasion, PML-N leader Khurram Dastgir termed the report “shoddy and extremely misleading”, and said it lacked depth and analysis.

He said hashtags were featured prominently in the report with no analysis on the tweets and their actual content.

He said a female anchor’s name was also highlighted in the report as she had allegedly used one of the “anti-state hashtags” in her tweet and she had reached out to the government for clarification.

Dastgir claimed that the government had subsequently issued a disclaimer, saying “if an account is listed in this report, it does not always imply that the content of the tweet is anti-state.”

He said out of the 135 pages of the report, 85 pages were based on screenshots devoid of any analysis.

The PML-N leader noted that of the 668 tweets mentioned in the report, 145 were posted from three accounts that had 11,000 followers in total.

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