What Does Turkey's Decision To Help Pak Set Up Cyber Unit For Influence Operations Against India In SE Asia Reveal About Indian Decline?

Pakistan Created Cyber Army Against India With Turkey's Help, Targetted South-East Asia: Report

by Swarajya Staff - Thursday, October 27, 2022 08:14 PM IST
Pakistan Created Cyber Army Against India With Turkey's Help, Targetted South-East Asia: ReportPakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

In an interview with Turkey's local TV station in Kahramanmaraş, Turkey's Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu revealed that in 2018, Turkey helped Pakistan in setting up a cyber unit to carry out influence operations against India in south east Asia. 

The agreement to help Pakistan was taken at a senior level and the Pakistanis kept it hidden away from most of their own staff at the Interior ministry.

Shehryar Khan Afridi, the then-minister of state for interior of Pakistan asked Turkey for help in this sphere after a bilateral talk between Pakistan and Turkey. Imran Khan Niazi was Pakistan's prime minister and interior minister during this time and he green lighted this operation personally.

The Turkish interior minister, in the interview, talked about how the Pakistani MoS for the interior ministry was hesitant to raise this request in front of the Turkish and Pakistani delegation. Turkey was more than happy to help the Islamic republic of Pakistan.

What exactly did this clandestine influence operation entail?

The primary goal of this covert influence operation was to sow the seeds of anti-India/anti-Hindu sentiments in south east Asian nations by using troll farms. After Turkey agreed to help Pakistan in setting up this cyber unit, Ankara sent experts of this operation to Pakistan. These people were from various departments in the Security General Directorate.

They stayed for months in Pakistan and helped Pakistan set up this operation. Reports suggest that more than 6,000 Pakistani officers have been trained by Turkey to carry out the implementation of this operation. Even though Niazi is no longer the prime minister, the cooperation between Turkey and Pakistan has continued.

This clandestine operation was buried under talks of bilateral cooperation between Turkey and Pakistan against cyber crime. The covert influence operations aren't targeted just towards India but also towards the US.

Why the attempt to influence the populace of SE Asia?

The Islamic republic of Pakistan selected SE Asia because Islamism and Islamist elements already enjoy refuge in the region. Radical Islamic preacher Zakir Naik for example, on the run from Indian authorities, enjoys permanent resident status in Malaysia.

It is not unreasonable to assume that as a result of such elements, anti-India/anti-Hindu sentiments exist in the seed form in many of the SE Asian societies.

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