PAKISTAN has presented details of how the threats made to the New Zealand cricket team leading to their cancelling the tour emanated from Indian accounts and were part of a conspiracy to damage cricket in the country.

In a detailed presser, the information minister shared evidence pointing to an elaborate scheme that included fake accounts generating threatening emails using VPNs and other diversionary tactics. The minister stated that the chain of events started with a social media post from what he termed as a fake account belonging to the former spokesman of the banned TTP, Ehsanullah Ehsan. However, in a message widely circulated on various platforms, a man claiming to be Ehsanullah Ehsan said he had indeed posted the message from his genuine account to warn the New Zealand team that there was a threat from the IS-K. The veracity of the claim is yet to be established.

The evidence shared by the minister is cause for alarm. There is no proof yet that the Indian government may be involved in this conspiracy but it is fairly clear that some elements in India are responsible for orchestrating the campaign to discredit Pakistan. Many may claim this to be a far-fetched idea, but ever since the EU DisinfoLab’s revelations, it is quite evident that such organised smear campaigns against Pakistan have Indian roots.

Read: Anger and dismay as New Zealand abandons Pakistan tour at the last minute

It is commendable that the government has taken the matter as seriously as it has, and delved deep into cyber investigations to determine the real story behind the threats.

The New Zealand authorities should have displayed greater responsibility instead of panicking and taking a decision without consulting the hosts. Had they done so, Pakistani authorities would have had an opportunity to explain to them how the elaborate scheme behind the threatening emails was part of a larger trend against Pakistan.

In any case now that the matter has been unearthed, Pakistan should double its efforts to foil such cyber conspiracies and expose them before they can lead to greater damage. It should also engage with all cricket boards to inform them of the orchestrated campaign that led to the hasty decision by the New Zealand team and triggered an equally irresponsible decision by the England cricket board. The international community should also take note of these vilification campaigns that are launched with ulterior motives to damage Pakistan’s global standing. The matter should be taken to its logical conclusion.

Published in Dawn, September 24th, 2021

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