The honeytrap and the (gullible) Indian Air Force

Published: January 10, 2016

Do army officers in Pakistan receive friend requests from attractive women who are curious about the number of Hunters in a particular air force base?

I recently heard about the honeytrap that was used to extract sensitive Intel from members of the Indian military. When I was finally able to stop laughing, I began to wonder why this hadn’t been bigger news on this side of the border because all Google searches on the subject result in Indian sources.

This one is my personal favourite.

Apparently this phenomenon is fairly common. The search brings up a number of different cases along with official warnings and guidelines from Indian government agencies. It looks as though there is an entire department of female operatives for the sole purpose of entrapping vulnerable (Gullible? Desperate?) soldiers and military personnel. It seems as though espionage has hit an entirely new low since its heyday during the Cold War. The idea of spies who don’t even need to leave their desks sounds mind-numbingly boring. What would they even call themselves? The ‘Inter Services Fraandshippers’?

Notice how easy it is though.

Surely people have the good sense to not go around giving away runway lengths and hanger locations? Who in their right minds would believe that magazines actually publish things like this? I had no idea that the location of army bases was printed right alongside fashion advice, agony aunt columns and articles about celebrity tantrums.

Do army officers in Pakistan receive friend requests from attractive women who are curious about the number of Hunters in a particular air force base? Or are they required to, perhaps, sit through some sort of class titled “How not to divulge military secrets to strangers online” as part of their training?

Perhaps flirting is done differently across the border.

“Hellu, naice pic janni, I am top government scientist”

“Thenks. Sho shweet! Email me the secret plans for that new drone your country is working on and I’ll give you my Whatsapp number”

Has this ever happened to you?

But really, life is hard. Who doesn’t wish for that life-changing online romance? Who doesn’t want to meet their soul-mate? Fate often lurks in (figurative) dark alleys waiting to tackle you without warning. So, how is one to weed out the lovers from the fighters?

Why not try the following?

The mirror test

Look in your nearest mirror. How do you look compared to the person who’s sent you the request? If you’re uglier than proceed with caution. They are either a spy, spam or trying to sell you something.

The test of residence

So you live in Kerala and you have a friend request from New York? How is that not suspicious? Even that one cousin who now buses tables in San Jose has un-friended you. This could only be bad news.

The status test

If you study at Iqra University then you’re not going to be getting friend requests from people studying at LUMS. If your cover photo is multiple frames of that one selfie you took with your neighbour’s fake RayBans then the girl with the foreign street view cover is probably only interested in the location of your nearest cantonment.

Don’t accept friend requests from strangers

Just don’t do it. No one is interested in you. You should probably just snap up that one rishta your mother keeps hinting at and count yourself lucky.

I realise that these suggestions will probably offend a lot of people, but they are things that everyone needs to hear. That Ryan Gosling look-alike has just come back home for the summer from Princeton. He drives a Mercedes. He has sent me a friend request. He probably wants me to hook him up with that one pretty girl on my friend list who changes her profile picture every day and only wears clothes that cost over 3K. I will act like a sensible person, ignore him and drown my sorrows in ice cream and an entire season of Downton Abbey.

It is, after all, a matter of national security.

Sakina Hassan

Sakina Hassan

The author is currently studying for an Mphil degree at the Centre of Excellence in Solid State Physics.

The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.