Information Minister Fawad Chaudhry on Wednesday said a threat to New Zealand’s cricket team that prompted them to abandon a tour of Pakistan was initiated by India.
Addressing a media conference flanked with Minister for Interior Sheikh Rashid Ahmed, he said India had been hatching conspiracies against Pakistan but like in the past, it would fail to weaken Pakistan’s standing at the international level.
Fawad Chaudhry revealed that the threatening email was generated from a secure service Proton mail and Pakistan has requested Interpol to assist for further probe.
He said that on August 19, a Facebook post was circulated from a fabricated account made in the name of Ehsan Ullah Ehsan (ex spokesman of Tehreek e Taliban Pakistan) on social media asking New Zealand Cricket Board and government not to send the team to Pakistan, as the plan had been made to target the New Zealand team but the post was not found on Facebook.
He said that after two days, the Indian newspaper Sunday Guardian, Bureau Chief Abhinandan Mishra wrote an article claiming that the New Zealand cricket team may face a terrorist attack in Pakistan. The article was based on the fake post of Ehsan Ullah Ehsan.
Mishra was also found in contact with former Afghan Vice President Amrullah Saleh, he added. He said that projection of threat by the publication of an article by the Bureau Chief of a reputed Indian paper based on a fake social media post suggested an orchestrated campaign to scuttle the tour.
Fawad said that on August 24, Martin Guptill’s wife received a threat email from email ID: firstname.lastname@example.org, threatening to kill Martin Guptill while on tour. The email ID was not associated with any SMN.
He said the email account was generated at 01:05 am, on Aug 24 and emailed on the same day at 11:59 am, he pointed out. It was obvious that the email was generated purposefully as no other activity was found from the same email.
Fawad said despite all these tactics, the New Zealand tour was not cancelled and its team arrived in Pakistan on September 11 and 12 in two chartered flights. The team attended practice sessions at Rawalpindi Cricket Stadium on September 13 and 14 from 4:30 to 7:30 pm and no threat alert was reported.
Both the teams again carried out practice in the evening on September 16. He said on September 17, the NZ team/ government expressed concern over the reported credible threat and cancelled the tour unilaterally without sharing the details of the threat.
He said that on September 18, 2021, Interpol Wellington informed Interpol Islamabad about receipt of a threat email to New Zealand Police from email@example.com at 06:25 am (NZ time), requesting further probe.
Fawad said that the email was sent 15 minutes after the ID was created and it was generated for a specific purpose. The minister said an email was sent from an associated device in India using VPN showing the IP address/ location of Singapore.
Fawad said that the involvement of Indian media and Intelligence Agencies in a systematic campaign to malign Pakistan based on a concocted/ orchestrated social media campaign indicate mala fide intent.
He said that FIA would contact Interpol/ Proton mail for the provision of detail out firstname.lastname@example.org. He said Pakistan was sure that the same agencies were behind this email ID that had sent the threat mail from the Hamza Afridi account.
He concluded that PCB chairman Rameez Raja, foreign ministry and interior ministry would take up the issue at all concerned forums. The minister thanked the Cricket fraternity including international players and cricket lovers from all over the world for supporting Pakistan.