Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) agency has gone into overdrive since Sunday night, feeding misinformation and fuelling hate for Indian cricketer Arshdeep Singh through its bunch of operatives on social media.
In a crunch India-Pakistan Super-4 stage match of the ongoing Asia Cup in Dubai last night – the result of which was decided on the penultimate ball – Arshdeep dropped a sitter from Asif Ali off Ravi Bishnoi in the 18th over the Pakistan innings.
Ali went on to score a crucial 8-ball 16 and was eventually out LBW to Arshdeep in the final over but by then Pakistan was already on the cusp of a memorable win over the arch-rival.
Match over, the 23-year-old left-arm pacer from Punjab, going through a gamut of emotions already, was hugged by fellow players who knew that it was only a game that was lost and Team India still remained a very strong contender for the final.
However, across the border, the triumph was celebrated as if a war had been won. While the Pakistani fans celebrated on the streets, the ISI saw Arshdeep catch-dropping episode as a perfect opportunity to activate its Khalistani sympathisers and hate groups on social media.
The notorious spy agency had a blueprint ready – they had run a similar, orchestrated hate campaign against another Indian fast bowler Mohammed Shami after India versus Pakistan T20 World Cup match last October.
As a result, ‘Arshdeep’ and ‘Khalistan’ became the top trends – even before the Indian players had returned to their hotel rooms.
Fake Pakistani Twitter handles, putting up doctored tweets, accused an Indian news channel anchor of calling Arshdeep “a Khalistani” after the defeat.
1) Indian cricket player Arshdeep dropped a catch in the 2nd match of India Vs Pakistan, Asia Cup 2022.
And, now accounts from Pakistan are running Khalistan propaganda & calling Arshdeep a Khalistani.
Here is the thread! pic.twitter.com/pOyaBPLyJW
— Anshul Saxena (@AskAnshul) September 4, 2022
Wajahat Saeed Khan, a Pakistani journalist working in New York tweeted that “Arshdeep is clearly a part of the Pakistan-backed Khalistan movement”.
Pakistani trolls, acting as Indians across various social media platforms, fired up anti-India and communal rhetoric calling Arshdeep a “gaddar” (traitor) who should be sent to Pakistan.
As the ISI-backed influencers burnt the proverbial midnight oil running the Khalistan propaganda, even the Wikipedia page of Arshdeep Singh was edited and “Khalistan” was added to it.
Wikipedia page of Indian Player Arshdeep Singh has been edited & deliberately Khalistan is added.
Who is behind this editing & targeting Arshdeep Singh?
Someone from Pakistan.
Here are the IP details of editor. pic.twitter.com/CErervW3Q2
— Anshul Saxena (@AskAnshul) September 4, 2022
As has been witnessed before, it wasn’t too long before some in the media, the usual champions of human rights, and people from the Lutyensesque ecosystem fell for the disinformation being spread by the Pakistani machinery.
Last year, Shami was blamed for India’s loss and asked to prove his loyalty to the country by a similar hate brigade.
While the player himself – and the cricketing community, including the Indian fans to a large extent – knew the reality, many dim-witted and so-called “social media influencers” tried to internationalise the fake narrative.
They did not succeed then and will certainly suffer a crushing defeat this time around, as well.
Former India skipper Virat Kohli, who made a 44-ball 60 on Sunday, put things in perspective for the haters.
Senior pro Virat Kohli backs youngster Arshdeep Singh, who had a volatile day at the field today#AsiaCup2022 #INDvsPAK #ViratKohli #ArshdeepSingh pic.twitter.com/FYPl5N4PMx
— OneCricket (@OneCricketApp) September 4, 2022
“Anyone can make the mistake, the situation was tight. It was a high-pressure game and mistakes can happen. I still remember I was playing my first Champions Trophy and the match was against Pakistan, I had played a very bad shot against Shahid Afridi. I was watching the ceiling till 5 am, I was not able to sleep and I thought my career is over but these things are natural,” said Kohli after the match.
Meanwhile, support for Arshdeep continued to pour in from many quarters, including many former Indian cricketers taking to Twitter to back the young bowler.
Arshdeep is a strong character. Stay that way boy. @arshdeepsinghh
— Irfan Pathan (@IrfanPathan) September 4, 2022
After dropping steve smith in the pune test, i was absolutely inconsolable for hours alone in my room. I really hope @arshdeepsinghh doesnt feel that way. He will be more gutted than anyone else in our country tonight. Lets cut him some slack! #INDvsPAK
— Abhinav Mukund (@mukundabhinav) September 4, 2022
Also Read: Disinformation War Hits Indian Cricket, Mohammed Shami Trolled As Part Of Pakistan’s Psy-Ops?