Campaign against Pak army ‘joint project’ of PTI, India: Khawaja Asif

Defence Minister Khawaja Asif on Wednesday alleged that a “negative” social media campaign targeting the tragic incident of an army helicopter crash amid flood relief operations in Balochistan earlier this month was a “joint project” of the PTI and India against the Pakistan Army.

After the chopper crash in Lasbela, a section of social media activists and certain political zealots launched an abhorrent and unacceptable online campaign to advance their personal and political malice, which drew a strong reaction from people belonging to all walks of life, political leadership and the state institutions.

The ruling coalition blames the PTI’s social media team for launching the smear campaign at the behest of PTI Chairman Imran Khan.

Addressing the issue at a press conference in Islamabad today, Asif said 18 Indian accounts were found to be involved in the social media campaign.

“Their channels say, ‘the work Imran Khan is doing for us, even if we had spent billions of dollars we would not have been able to create the kind of network to safeguard and advance India’s interests in Pakistan as how the PTI and its leader is doing,’” the defence minister said.

Asif claimed that while the nation was mourning the Lasbela helicopter tragedy, the PTI’s social media accounts, with the help of Indian and other offshore social media accounts, were running a “smear campaign” against the country and the army.

Referring to reports run in the media a day ago, Asif said an investigation into the campaign had found that 529 Pakistani accounts, 18 Indian accounts and 33 accounts from other countries were involved.

“This investigation is reaching its conclusion,” he said, adding that action would be taken on the results in accordance with the law and the Constitution.

He said the matter had shamed the entire nation before the martyrs’ families that “there are such people found among us who can fall so low for their political motives.”

Asif said the data was “confirmed and verified” and more revelations would be forthcoming.

The defence minister termed the PTI’s alleged campaign, party leader Shahbaz Gill’s comments regarding the army and subsequent claims of him being tortured in police custody as “diversion” tactics to remove attention from the verdict in the foreign funding case.

Asif said that Imran had subsequently distanced himself from Gill’s comments when he saw that the move had ended up hurting the PTI instead of accruing any dividend or political benefit.

The defence minister called for this process of diversionary tactics to be “stopped immediately”.

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