Twitter of Pakistan's embassy in Serbia criticises PM Imran over inflation, FO says account hacked

Published December 3, 2021
A file view of the Pakistan's embassy in Serbia. — Photo courtesy Pakistan Embassy Serbia Facebook
A file view of the Pakistan's embassy in Serbia. — Photo courtesy Pakistan Embassy Serbia Facebook

The official Twitter account of Pakistan's embassy in Serbia tweeted criticism targeting Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday, citing rising inflation and alleged non-payment of salaries for three months. Two hours later, the Foreign Office issued a statement, saying social media accounts of the embassy had been hacked.

The tweets have since been deleted.

"The Twitter, Facebook and Instagram accounts of the Embassy of Pakistan in Serbia have been hacked. Messages being posted on these accounts are not from the Embassy of Pakistan in Serbia," the Foreign Office spokesperson tweeted.

Later, Pakistan's embassy in Serbia also said the account had been hacked and a "baseless" tweet was posted on it from a device in Karachi.

"The Twitter account of the Embassy of Pakistan [in] Belgrade, Serbia (@PakinSerbia) was hacked and logged in from a Chrome desktop on a Windows device in Karachi, Pakistan at 05:59 hours local time (09:59 PST)," a statement issued by the embassy said, adding that a message was posted from the hacked account at 6:59am local time (10:59 PST), which was not from the embassy.

"After the hacking of the Twitter account, a baseless and unfactual post was [...] made regarding the non-payment of salaries. This was totally false and far from reality."

The tweet from the embassy's verified account stated: "With inflation breaking all previous records, how long do you expect @ImranKhanPTI that we [government] official will remain silent & keep working for you without been paid for past 3 months & our children been forced out of school due to non payment of fees. Is this #NayaPakistan ?"

The tweet along with the text critising the premier included a parody song with the "Ghabrana nahi hai (we do not have to worry)" catchphrase.

Under the above tweet, the account posted another tweet saying: "I am sorry @ImranKhanPTI, am not left with another option."

According to the embassy's statement, all of its employees are paid their salaries regularly, "and there is no disruption in the education of the children of [its] officers and staff."

"The embassy is receiving funds from Islamabad on a regular basis," the statement read.

It added that the embassy "does not take any responsibility for the above-mentioned posts and deeply regrets the frivolous activity generated through the hacked account", and that "baseless" posts were deleted from the embassy's social media account.

The statement further said the embassy's Facebook and Instagram accounts were also hacked apparently using the same device from which its Twitter account was hacked.

"The Twitter account was retrieved at 09:11 hours local time (13:11 PST)," it said, adding that the IP address of the device used for hacking it was being shared with relevant quarters in Pakistan for further investigation into the matter.

Earlier this week, data released by the Pakistan Bureau of Statistics showed inflation edged up to 11.5pc from 9.2pc, the highest increase noted in the past 20 months influenced by a record hike in fuel prices in October.

The massive rupee depreciation fuelled import-led inflation. Inflation measured by the Consumer Price Index (CPI) increased to its highest level in 20 months — the period when global oil prices kept rising steadily undermining earlier gains.

At the same time, prices of fresh vegetables, fruits and meat also posted a persistent increase in major urban and rural centres.

The average inflation during the July-November period rose to 9.32pc on a yearly basis.

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