Turkish Package: An ‘Islamic’ Aggression
Turkey had stood by Pakistan on allegations of supporting terrorism at the UN, in the past. On that occasion, the area of bilateral cooperation extended to the defence sector. This time, it has been alleged that Turkey is secretly helping Pakistan in setting up a Cyber-Army against India and the US!
Nordic Monitor has reported that the main task of the Cyber-Army is to influence the views of the followers of Islam in South and South-East Asia against the infidels, and to shape public opinion against India and the US. As per the report, Imran Khan Niazi, the former Prime Minister of Pakistan, had filnalised the plan in this regard with Turkish Interior Minister Suleyman Soylu in 2018. On December 17, 2018, a proposal to establish a joint unit for anti-India and anti-US cyber operations was first made public after Soylu’s meeting with Shehryar Khan Afridi, the then Pakistani Minister of State for Interior. Later, Islamabad and Ankara reached a final agreement on this project. After discussing the matter at the senior level, the Government of Pakistan kept it confidential from most of the staff of its Interior Ministry.
Nordic Monitor has further reported that the secret work has been camouflaged under the bilateral agreement on cooperation against cybercrime. However, sources close to the project are of the opinion that it is against perceived influence operations pursued by the US, India and other foreign powers.
Soylu had reportedly run troll and bot armies in cyberspace on behalf of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, and had worked on similar covert operations even before becoming the Interior Minister in September 2016. The Erdoğan Administration allegedly used intelligence and information as a weapon by turning the newly revamped Cyber Police Department into machinery to undermine public view of the Opposition and to counter critics.
Incidentally, Pakistan and Turkey had signed a defence cooperation agreement during Khan’s tenure as Prime Minister in 2019. After signing the agreement, Turkish President Erdoğan announced the development of advanced warships for Pakistan under the National Warship Project. Pakistan was in the process of purchasing four Turkish-built MILGEM corvette ships from State-owned defence contractor ASFAT. Islamabad had also placed an order for 30 T-129 ATAK helicopters, as the total cost of orders for purchase of Turkish weapons systems was nearly USD 3 billion.
Meanwhile, India has expressed serious concern over the conspiracy hatched by both Pakistan and Turkey. At the same time, the Indian Ministry of External Affairs has said that New Delhi is fully prepared to face cyber-attack from countries, like Pakistan and Turkey.
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