Fake Twitter Accounts of Pak Diplomatic Missions in US Cause Stir
One of the fake accounts tweeted that the US conducted raids at Pakistan embassies in Washington and New York.
Pakistan's missions in Washington and New York were targeted by fake Twitter accounts, which alleged that the two consulates were raided by US law enforcement agencies in connection with the Ohio terror attack by a Somalian refugee, who had reportedly lived in Pakistan.
The two twitter accounts, in particular Pakistan Embassy UN (@PakEmbassyUN) impersonated Maleeha Lodhi, the Pakistani Ambassador to the United Nations (UN), and appeared that it was being handled personally by her.
In the fake tweet, Lodhi alleged that the Ohio Police, a day earlier raided the Pakistani Embassy in Washington in connection with the terrorist attack carried by Abdul Razak Ali Artan.
Artan, a Somalian refugee who reportedly lived in Pakistan for a few years before coming to the US, injured as many as 11 people earlier this week before he was shot and killed by the Ohio Police.
In this fake account, Lodhi alleged that the federal police is now raiding the Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the UN in New York.
The fake tweets have hundreds of re-tweets and likes, and many replies also blamed Pakistan of being a ‘terrorist nation’. The account has only 24 tweets and joined the site about three months back, but has more than 3,500 followers.
It also blamed US President-elect Donald Trump.
By late night, tweets from @PakinUS, the other fake account, appeared to have been deleted, while those of @PakEmbassyUN still appeared to be there.
One of these tweets also reflected a fake twitter account of Sartaj Aziz, who is the foreign policy advisor to the Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif.
Pakistan Issues Clarification
Later in the day, both the Pakistan Embassy in Washington and its Permanent Mission to the UN in New York issued statements, saying that these are fake accounts and have taken up the matter with Twitter.
The Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the UN said in a statement:
Baseless and false information is being spread on the social media through fake Twitter accounts impersonating the Permanent Mission of Pakistan and Ambassador Maleeha Lodhi. The Permanent Mission has only one Twitter account ie @PakistanUN_NY.
"The Mission has taken up this issue with the Twitter administration in order to block all unauthorised and fake accounts," it said.
The Pakistan Embassy in Washington also issued similar statement on Twitter.
Maleeha Lodhi – who has 1,38,000 followers – also tweeted the statement.
Several credible media outlets in South Asia even reported about these raids without realising that such an act was unprecedented and would have created a major international crisis, as it would have been in violation of several UN and Vienna conventions.
The diplomatic missions are considered as sovereign territory and the law enforcement agencies of that country have no permission to enter its premises.
This comes at a time when the American media is abuzz with fake stories on the social media and how it was used to influence the recently-concluded elections.
(With inputs from PTI)
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