NEW DELHI: In support of the anti-government protests led by led by by Pakistan Tehreek-i-Insaf (PTI) and Pakistan Awami Tehreek (PAT), a group calling themselves “Anonymous Op Pakistan” took down numerous government sites and leaked bank records reportedly connected to the government.

The sites that were attacked included the Pakistani army ((, the Pakistani airforce (,, the Inter Service Public Relations (, the Federal Investigative Agency (, the Punjab Government (, amongst several others.

The group released a video outlining its objectives:

“We are cataloging the atrocities being committed in Pakistan. We will begin at once assisting the peaceful protesters in Pakistan with every tool and tactic at our disposal. And we will initiate the process of removing every vestige of the Pakistan government from the Internet and shutting down their communications network. And the Pakistani people will then remove this criminal regime from power and lock them in prison where they belong. Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif you are hereby dismissed. You will leave power immediately. For the safety and security of your family we suggest that you depart Pakistan at once. This is your only warning,” a statement from the group said.

Anonymous’ actions come as protests in Islamabad, being led by PTI’s Imran Khan and PAT’s Tahirul Qadri, which are calling for Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s resignation, have intensified. Over the weekend, protesters clashing with police resulted in the death of three people and injured over 400 others.

The overnight violence this past weekend has raised the stakes, with PTI leader Khan directly implicating Sharif. “Police action against innocent people should be condemned. We will fire an FIR against Nawaz Sharif," Khan said, adding, “Nawaz has killed innocent people. We will won't budge till Sharif resigns.”

Referring to the police and military, Anonymous’ statement read, “As for the criminal security and military forces who have so barbarically attacked your own people in Pakistan, we will collect evidence of your crimes and deal with you in the time and manner of our choosing. You would do well to....well, you know - expect us. You will either answer to the justice of your people and the international community, or you will be the subject of the rage filled vengeance of Anonymous.”

Anonymous are a loosely organised hacker collective, and the state of Pakistan is not their only target. Most recently, during Israel’s assault on Gaza, Anonymous took down hundreds of Israeli websites, replacing homepages with graphics, slogans, and auto-playing audio files. The group had launched a similar operation against Israel in 2012.

The group first became associated with what has been termed “hackivism” through an attack on the Church of Scientology in 2008. In 2010, they took on Indian internet software company Aiplex Software, which was contracted by studios to launch DDoS attacks on websites providing pirated content. The attack then moved on to targeting the Recording Industry Association of America and the Motion Picture Association of America, successfully bringing down both websites.

“Anonymous is tired of corporate interests controlling the internet and silencing the people’s rights to spread information, but more importantly, the right to SHARE with one another. The RIAA and the MPAA feign to aid the artists and their cause; yet they do no such thing. In their eyes is not hope, only dollar signs. Anonymous will not stand this any longer,” said a statement associated with the operation that came to be known “Operation Payback Is a Bitch.”

Operation Payback continued targeting a host of entities, including the US Copyright Office and the Australian Federation Against Copyright Theft.

As the Wikileaks controversy spread, with whistleblower Julian Assange under increasing scrutiny, the group launched “Operation Avenge Assange,” taking on PayPal and Swiss financial company PostFinance for denying service to Wikileaks.

The group has been politically active, launching “Operation Tunisia” in support of the Arab spring movements and playing an active role in the Occupy Wall Street Movement, attacking the New York Stock Exchange and the London Stock Exchange. The group has also targeted outfits associated with a homophobic stand and websites hosting child pornography.