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Use of Fake News; Reasons and Remedy

Atique Ur Rehman

Straight lines are getting blurred with each passing day for every stakeholder who deals in the public domain. It is getting difficult even for global players to maintain a balance in their pronounced policies and their implementation. Trump era has exposed the true face of democratic America. BJP hardliners have exposed the true face of Indian secular drama. Media objectivity has been exposed all over the world due to political favouritism and other biases. Pandemic also exposed the so-called development of human beings during the last few decades.

In older days, lines were not so clearly defined in politics. One could raise popular slogans in elections campaigns, win the election and get away with whatever possible way, it could. But it is not so easy now because of a digital era that has made easy the documentation of media content. Similarly, it is relevant to global affairs where the availability of data makes it impossible to hide the real intent of nation-states. How can, the UN and the US raise slogans for the protection of human rights when 23 million Afghans are fighting for their lives due to a ban on the assets of their own country. Over 700 million refugees and displaced people are globally suffering the trauma of homelessness due to repressions of states and global confrontation. Non-government

Organisations have been exposed due to their involvement in other issues in the garb of human rights. This opposite view of narrative and policy implementation is one of the reasons for the promotion of fake news.

Global political and economic institutions are at alteration and do not have common goals. In global affairs, the nation-state is the basic unit of measurement. While the economy is mostly an integrated global affair. The global economic drive demands an unobstructed flow of capital and goods while nation states’ quest is mostly focused on military security. The contrast in two major components of international world order is the main hindrance for smooth functioning of global order. This contrast also promotes fake news.

Are we being controlled by machines? My answer is yes. Are we responding to situations or just a pastime? The reply is mostly a pastime. Are we becoming a # hashtagsociety, a virtual society that has no real-life purpose; the answer is yes. Controversies and political fights attract us more than other pressing life issues. Political scoring and statements are the most viewed and discussed issues on our popular tv shows. When there is no political issue, we create our own. Self-created puzzles are the most popular habits amongst the whole nation. People remain busy and happy in meaningless disputes. Twitter and Television in Pakistan are becoming good interlocutors to generate such discussions and create a mess of their own. There are countless # that is being played as desired by hashtag teams. We can call it “Dehi ki Lassi banana” (Making a mountain of a molehill).

The most discussed and meaningless hashtag #merepasstumho has been on for days. The whole nation was in frenzy and fully absorbed in the concluding episode of the drama Mere Pass Tum ho. Guess why, just to see that hero of drama (Danish) takes which option, whether stick around with his wife or go for his girlfriend. Hero was smarter than a whole lot of viewers, he opted for mercy from both the ladies and decided to commit suicide. This tragic end made millions of viewers so sad that #Danishmargaya remained the top trend for the next two days.

Media creates its virtual world but a calculated one to influence the masses to be part of it. Any intervention in that persuasion process creates fissures among the state and media. The media call this intervention an “attack on freedom of expression” and the state calls it “national interest.” Both are right. The fight between media and state has been a standard pattern for ages but Postmodernism movements like Feminism has promoted the norm of mistrust between society and state. Besides political #s, celebrities, cricket takes a lead in making memes. In fact making # has become a popular game in the country. People make a # even when a delivery boy is late for a few minutes to deliver the ordered single burger or Kareem Driver moves a few yards ahead of the given location. Nowadays service providers are highly alert to these #hashtag habits. This popular culture of getting space and recognition on social media is another reason for the promotion of exaggerated information.

These blurred lines are being covered through fake information. The human mind has been put to test for making out a real and clear picture of the world. India is one of those countries which has taken propaganda as a tool for pushing their foreign policy objectives. India uses fake news to forward its agenda. To spread hate and fake news, India was using 500 domains. The operation was named “Indian Chronicle,” which was unearthed in 2019 by European Union Disinfo Lab. There are dozens of other domains which were being used to glorify terrorism, create confusion and chaos inside Afghanistan and against Pakistan. These websites were also facilitating terrorist outfits to proliferate their narrative. The Indian propaganda machine was seeking to provoke identity conflicts in Balochistan and KPK through a strategic interplay of NGOs and information outlets. Most of the propaganda content was aimed to pollute the public opinion about Balochistan and Kashmir. Indian chronicles disclosed that as many as 11 NGOs, fake think tanks, lobbying firms and media houses would create events that were covered by fake media outlets. A leading India wire service ANI was being used for content laundering. The same content was being published not only by fake websites but major media outlets in India. Srivastav business entity, a hoax group was leading the entire propaganda network.

Indian false flag operations have been a part of its strategy, in pursuit of the Chanakya dictums of guile and deceit. Terror attack on the Indian Parliament by a handful of “militants” on December 13, 2001, was again a false flag operation, launched in the wake of the 9/11 attack, to bracket Pakistan with international terrorism. Mumbai attack on November 26, 2008, was yet another false flag operation designed to achieve several objectives. In January 2013, another drama of beheading two Indian soldiers along the Line of Control (LoC) in Kashmir was staged to reinvigorate cross border terrorism charges against Pakistan. Uri Attack and Surgical Strike Drama is well known as Indian false flag operations.

The governance of the nation-state has been put to test during the pandemic. Global chaos was witnessed in the early stages of the pandemic which was primarily due to unverified news. The politics of populism and failure of governance has also promoted the use of fake news which is detrimental to human development. It is thus imperative to discourage the use of fake news through personal verification efforts by viewers and listeners and also avoid unnecessary analysis based upon rumours and unsubstantiated news.

The writer is a Phd in International Relations from QAU and can be reached at