'Probe into smear campaign against Pak Army over chopper crash'

The probe panel on Monday announced the inclusion of intelligence officials, including Deputy Director Waqar Nisar of the IB, in the JIT.
Representative image
Representative image

ISLAMABAD: The Pakistan government has included two members from the Intelligence agencies in the six-member team probing the anti-Army social media campaign that the security establishment “orchestrated” a recent helicopter crash to gain sympathy, a media report said on Tuesday.

The Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) team formed to trace and arrest those running the negative social media campaign on the tragic crash in Balochistan has been reconstituted into a joint investigation team (JIT), including an official each from the Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) and the Intelligence Bureau (IB), besides the four FIA officials announced on Sunday, the Dawn newspaper reported.

The Pakistan Army helicopter carrying a senior commander and five others last Monday crashed in a mountainous area in Balochistan province during a flood relief operation, killing all on board.

Following the crash, a smear campaign started on social media which targeted the killed military officers, including hashtags against the armed forces.

“The purpose behind the constitution of the joint investigation team is to net the real people active behind the scene,” the report quoted sources as saying.

The probe panel on Monday announced the inclusion of intelligence officials, including Deputy Director Waqar Nisar of the IB, in the JIT.

The new six-member JIT will meet at the FIA Headquarters in Islamabad on Wednesday and take effective measures to arrest those behind the propaganda against the military officers.

“The teams are using all necessary tools and software for result-oriented efforts,” said the FIA source.

“There are known social media platforms, which were used for this negative campaign, and are being monitored. Even the negative posts that were later deleted after public outcry are being retrieved to get an idea of the origin of this content and the people behind their generation.” Terming the campaign ''horrifying'', Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said it reflected the minds of young Pakistanis were being poisoned.

“Insensitive behaviour is unacceptable and should be condemned on every platform,” the prime minister said.

The army’s media wing also described ''regretful'' the social media trend that has caused anguish among the families of those who had died as well as in the army as an institution.

“While the whole nation stood with the institution in this difficult time, certain insensitive quarters resorted to hurtful & derogatory comments on social media,” the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) said in a statement.

Though it is not exactly known who was mentoring the campaign, Pakistan’s ruling coalition blamed the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party and its chief Imran Khan.

The government leaders also criticised Khan and Pakistan President Arif Alvi, who belongs to the PTI, for not attending the funeral of Lt-Gen Sarfaraz Ali and other military personnel.

The PTI, however, said if it was attacked in the name of the FIA probe, the ousted party had all the due “capability, skills and human resources” of social media to prove the lies and bring forth the truth.

“We have all the skills and resources to carry out the forensic analysis of any social media campaign,” PTI Secretary General Asad Umar told the newspaper.

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