Turkey has set up a propaganda team, in collaboration with Pakistani ISI, to further their anti-India propaganda, reported Mediterranean-Asian Investigative Journalists. The said report has been reposted by Research Institute for European and American Studies (RIEAS). Turkish state-owned media houses such as TRT World and Anadolu Agency have been hiring a large number of Pakistani and Indian Kashmiri journalists.
As per the report, 1/4th of top and middle-range posts at the TRT World have been handed out to them. This marks a strong departure from the traditional hiring at the news firm from English-speaking Westerners to that of the Indian subcontinent. The nefarious plan started out as part of the imitative to elevate Turkish President Erdogan to an ‘international leader’.
Turkish Intelligence agency MIT collaborated with Pakistan’s ISPR (Inter-Service Public Relations) to establish Erogan as the ‘leader’ of the Muslim Ummah. As part of its strategy, TRT World employed 50 Pakistani nationals in its 300-member staff. The number of Kashmiri journalists is reported to be more than a dozen. While undermining journalistic principles, TRT World and Anadolu Agency have been carrying out pro-Turkey and pro-Pakistan propaganda.
Pakistani, Indian Kashmiri journalists hired by TRT World without credentials
The journalists include Faisal Aziz Khan, Usman Mir, Ravale Mohydin, Mehboob Geelani, Baba Umar, Riyaz ul Khaliq, Iftikhar Gilani, Ruwa Shah, Mehnaaz Yaseen, Mohsin Mughal, Imran Garda, Faisal, Ahmed Bin Qasim and Shaheryar Mirza. “From the background of most of these journalists, it doesn’t appear that qualification was the only criteria to hire them, “the report noted. To avoid scrutiny in Philia Forum countries, the journalists have been reporting while applying for travel visas for ‘recreational trips’ and ‘honeymoons’ in gross violation of visa norms.
Turkish government grant citizenship, journalists commit visa fraud
Several journalists of Pakistani and Indian Kashmir origin were also granted Turkish citizenship. Interestingly, they did not notify back home so as to be able to continue carrying out the Turkey-sponsored propaganda. The Turkish state-owned media are also coercing media houses in three continents to delete their stories and threatening them with legal action in case of non-compliance. “The mercenary journalists have been invited, recruited, and settled in Turkey to reinforce and support the operations of Turkish intelligence in projecting Erdogan as the undisputed champion of the region as well as of the Ummah,” the report said.
Following Imran Khan’s rise to power in Pakistan, there has been an institutionalized effort in furthering anti-India propaganda. Earlier, Turkish hackers hacked the social media handles of famous Indian personalities such as Amitabh Bacchan as it dubbed India as ‘Pakistan’s enemy.’ At the same time, Pakistani hackers returned the favour to their Turkish counterparts by attacking UAE. “These are not random developments and hint towards constituting a part of institutionalized collaboration in information warfare,” a professor commented.
TRT World peddles Erdogan’s imperialistic fantasies
Pakistan has also propagated Turkish fictional web series on Ertugrul Gazi to sell the dreams of ‘Ottoman imperialism’ to the countrymen. The Turkish-government sponsored web series also served the purpose of inciting a section of Indians to rise against their own country. Interestingly, most journalists who featured in the report also endorsed the web series. It was also found that TRT World did at least 31 articles praising the conversion of Hagia Sophia to a mosque, 972 articles criticising Saudi Arabia for Yemen crisis, 65 articles on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, 30 articles on Turkey-Pakistan-Malaysia alliance and 14 pieces criticizing Indian government in the aftermath of the abrogation of Article 370.
A majority of these articles were written by Pakistani ad Indian Kashmiri journalists, whose names featured in the list. “According to Turkish sources, it has been Erdogan’s part of systematic efforts that a lot of these content have been published by TRT World and Anadolu without by lines of these journalists.” In this way, the Turkish propaganda machinery has been effectively ensuring deniability and easy access to other parts of the world. An expert on Ottoman history emphasized that Pakistani ISI is actively recruiting and spotting individuals who can peddle Erdogan’s Caliphate campaign.
These journalists from Pakistan and Kashmir have also been towing the Turkish agenda even before their recruitment by the propaganda machinery. “There is a very strong possibility that journalists from Malaysia would soon get recruited in TRT World and Anadolu Agency,” the report added. Interestingly, a top producer at TRT World hails from Malaysia. TRT World has also started ‘A Place Called Pakistan’ and ‘Strait Talk’ series to project Turkey and Pakistan as two ideal destinations.
Turkish-Pakistan nexus exposed as smear campaign against Philia Forum counties unleash
The Turkish and Pakistani governments are now planning to label ‘Philia Forum’ countries as utter failures and anti-peace. And the targeting has already begun. While earlier the smear campaign was earlier facilitated by individuals, it is now a collective all-out effort. The Turkish intelligence agency MIT has appointed Erdogan’s confidantes to convene propagandists such as Ali Keskin and Mustafa Ozkaya to attack countries who question the Turkey-Pakistan nexus. In this game of information warfare, Turkey and Pakistan has institutionalized its joint campaign.
Through TRT World and Anadolu Agency, the Turkish government is doing an effective job at ‘reinforcing and supporting’ Erdogan’s ideas. Such a malicious agenda came to light during the #BoycottFrance campaign which received overwhelming support from Turkey, Pakistan and ‘some pockets’ from India. The same group of journalists also spearheaded the campaign for #BoycottUAE, thereby helping Pakistan to take it to the top spot on Twitter trends. While speaking about the two campaigns, a diplomatic expert remarked, “This is certainly an outcome of the mercenary army of info-terrorists being recruited by both the countries.”
“It seems that Pakistan is learning quickly from its friend as the ISPR has now successfully converted a large number of Pakistanis, especially youngsters, as foot soldiers of information warfare. Under Erdogan, Turkish media houses, especially TRT World, has become a massive pro-Caliphate channel. The criticality and degree of the propaganda campaign suggests that media watchdogs across countries should start filtering the content of these news networks and governments should start coming up with mechanisms and tools to combat the disinformation campaigns,” the report concluded.