PML-N slams inclusion of journalists, political opponents in govt’s ‘anti-state’ trends report – Press Release

Former prime minister and PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi addressing a press conference in Islamabad on the governments anti-state trends report, on August 13, 2021. — YouTube/HumNewsLive
Former prime minister and PML-N leader Shahid Khaqan Abbasi addressing a press conference in Islamabad on the government’s ‘anti-state’ trends report, on August 13, 2021. — YouTube/HumNewsLive
  • “If this government has expertise in anything, it is lying,” PML-N says.
  • PML-N says journalists, politicians implicated as “anti-state” based on “assumptions”.
  • PML-N likens incumbent government’s policies to those seen in martial law eras.

The PML-N on Friday slammed the government’s “Anti-State Trends Deep Analytics Report“, lashing out at the Centre for the inclusion of journalists and political opponents in the document “based on assumptions”.

National Security Adviser Moeed Yusuf and Minister for Information Fawad Chaudhry had unveiled the report in a press conference two days back.

The government has since received flak for the report, with the CEO of TweepsMap — the app used by the government for analysis in this report — telling The Current that “the government of Pakistan is not authorised to use our service.”

Meanwhile, former prime minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, addressing a press conference in Islamabad today, likened the incumbent government’s policies to those seen during martial law eras.

“Under a martial law, political leaders and journalists are called traitors […] what is the difference between [those allegations] and a political government that implicates political parties and patriots as anti-state?” Abbasi asked.

The former prime minister went on to point out that the government had shown Kashmir as part of India on six or five different occasions in the report and maintained that “had the Centre even read the report, they would have been more responsible”.

Abbasi said the document claims three million tweets were made, but fails to mentions what were they about — and does not even indicate whether the tweets are against or pro-Pakistan.

“If this government has expertise in anything, it is lying,” he said, questioning why the government has clubbed journalists and the Opposition together with India and Israel based on “mere assumptions”.

“A large portion of the report is against Pakistan’s political parties,” he said, adding that it failed to determine whether the tweets were in favour of Pakistan or against its interests.

“The names of several journalists have been included in this report and when they were are asked for evidence, they said it was based on assumptions,” Abbasi continued.

Former senator Afsaryab Khattak, PPP leader Farhatullah Babar, former MNA Bushra Gohar, and other prominent personalities have been included by the government among people who uploaded anti-state tweets, he said.

Moreover, the name of Prime Minister Imran Khan’s ex-wife, Reham Khan, is also included in the anti-state tweet list, Abbasi said, taking a jibe at the government.

“This government’s policies have left us isolated from the world […] we were so helpless that we had to take data from a Canada-based company,” the former premier went on to say, continuing to deride the government.

Drawing attention to a recent 8-hour meeting — where Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) Director General Lt Gen Faiz Hameed briefed the parliamentarians on the situation in Afghanistan — he said PTM and PML-N members were present during the session.

“Such actions (releasing the report) are being taken to divert attention from the developing situation in Afghanistan,” he said, reminding the government that “mere reports and tweets do not improve a country’s situation”.

‘Computer illiterate’

Responding to the PML-N press conference, Fawad Chaudhry said he was not surprised, as “no political party, unfortunately, has separate wings to apprise their leadership of the country’s ever-changing situation”.

“When ‘computer illiterate’ leaders like Khurram Dastagir, Shahid Khaqan Abbasi, and Rana Sanaullah start commenting on such a matter, it is expected that you will get a laughable press conference,” the minister said in a video statement.

Fawad said “no one has been declared anti-state in the report” as the government “only presented data showing how 150 anti-Pakistan trends ran on social media, which were backed by 3.7 million tweets”.

“Afghanistan and India backed the building of a narrative on social media through these trends. Bot technology was also used from India,” the information minister said.

The people residing in the country were not commented on in the report, the information minister said, rejecting the PML-N’s stance.

“If a trend starts, for example, the trend #SanctionPakistan running on social media for the past two days, and if I say, ‘what a stupid trend’, although I am partaking in it, I am not involved in any anti-state activity,” he said.

“So, if you do not have a basic understanding about the issue, it is better to surround yourself with people who understand technology,” the information minister added.