Activists of Pakistan Muslim League Nawaz (PMl-N) hold placard and pictures of six Pakistan military personnel who were killed in a helicopter crash during flood relief operations during a ceremony to pay tribute, in Lahore on August 6, 2022. Image Credit: AFP

Islamabad: Pakistan’s Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) has formed a team to probe, trace and arrest those behind a smear campaign on social media against the army following the army helicopter crash.

A Pakistani military helicopter carrying a senior commander and five others crashed on August 1 during the flood relief operation in Balochistan, killing all on board.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said belittling and ridiculing the sacrifices of martyrs was horrifying. “Which way are we headed? The moment calls for a deep reflection,” PM Sharif wrote on his Twitter handle. Interior Minister Rana Sanaullah said the online smear campaign against the military and its officers would be investigated, and the government set up a team to probe the “negative propaganda.”

The army’s media wing said the social media campaign after the tragic incident was “regretful” and had caused anguish among the families of those who had lost their lives and the army as an institution.

On Sunday, FIA said it was constructing a joint investigation team (JIT) to probe the smear campaign. “A joint inquiry team has been formed to investigate the issue of a negative propaganda campaign on social media after the Pakistan Army helicopter crash,” the notification said. A four-member team has been tasked with identifying, arresting and taking legal action against those involved in running a negative social media campaign on the tragic helicopter accident. Members of the probe team include Additional Director General Cyber Crime Muhammad Jafar, Director Cybercrime Waqaruddin Syed, Additional Director Ayaz Khan and Assistant Director Imran Haider.

Meanwhile, in a joint condolence resolution, the Balochistan Assembly paid tribute to the six martyred army officers. “We salute these brave senior officers of Pak-Army who sacrificed their lives to protect the lives of flood-stricken people of Lasbela,” the resolution said.