Hybrid warfare and challenges for Pakistan
Hybrid warfare means neutralizing the enemy without physically fighting on the battleground. Though hybrid warfare is a much old phenomenon now a day it has become a new buzzword echoed ubiquitously. And being dubbed as 4th and 5th generation warfare. In this modern era of the digital revolution, a country uses unconventional military means in hybrid warfare. Such as cyber-attacks, economic sanctions, disinformation, and propaganda. Supporting local insurgent groups to interfere in other countries affairs in order to destabilize it. The sole aim of the 4th & 5th generation hybrid warfare is to create chaos in the country. And weaken the very social fabric of the society. Hybrid war has now become an instrument of violence. That is being used as a tool to attack every single structure which represents the state. Be it the governance structures of the state, the leadership (including civil and military), our armed forces.
Hybrid warfare is not just confined to the military, but it’s very political and diplomatic in nature, as defined by Carl von Clausewitz, a Prussian general, and military theorist, that ‘war is the continuation of politics by other means. One of the most important and dangerous tools of the hybrid war is information exploitation, which can really play a vital role to disrupt societies, where the right use of information is imperative for the right decisions. The role of social media in this scenario has enhanced, where disinformation, propaganda, and fake news are being disseminated to achieve ulterior political motives.
Another critical tool and strategy of hybrid warfare is coercive diplomacy of international powers through economic means. The powerful countries impose economic sanctions, trade restrictions and enforce critical economic conditions through International Monitory Fund (IMF) and Financial Action Task Force (FATF) on a targeted country in order to subdue their economic integrity to achieve their malicious intents.
Hybrid warfare and new way forward for Pakistan
Though Pakistan has achieved many millstones in countering extremism and terrorism in the country, the country is confronted with the growing challenge of hybrid warfare. Our enemies through various means of finance activities weaken the very social fabric of the society by pitching various communities against each other on ethical and religious grounds. Moreover, our conventional rival India is also spending huge sums on building its military might to continue with its cold start war doctrine against Pakistan. As Pakistan has already exposed India in Kulbhushan Jadhav and Pulwama episode.
Currently, Pakistan is facing serious economic coercion in the shape of IMF and FATF conditions, which is undermining the country’s economic sovereignty and posing a serious threat to our national security. Pakistan needs to understand such coercions and prepare itself for them.
Pakistan can counter such coercions of hybrid warfare by strengthening its relations and lobby efforts at the United Nations, and other regional economic blocks, initiatives, and organizations like the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), and Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) to get political and economic support from them. This will help Pakistan to fight the hybrid war on the international front.
In Pakistan two-thirds of the population is below 30 years. The total teledensity in Pakistan is reportedly more than 70 percent, where 63 million are using smartphones. The majority of them belong to young strata of the society who are active on social media. In this era of information and communication, it is crucial for our young generation to differentiate between right or wrong. Correct or incorrect, and lack of authenticity of the information.
To counter the disinformation, there is a dire need of promoting the culture of healthy debates and discussions. If we wanted to save our young generation from the dire consequences of hybrid warfare. There is a need to promote the culture of truth and facts among our young generation. It is now the responsibility of every individual and especially the thinking community to help develop the culture of information analysis.
Most importantly, one of the dangerous hybrid warfare tools is fake news. Reportedly, around 60 percent of news on social media in the world is fake. Which is negatively influencing and shaping the minds of our young generation. It is also an unfortunate fact that a substantial number of our journalists do rely on the information provided on such social networking platforms. Which are mostly fake or fabricated. To counter and avoid this information exploitation, there has to be a deterrent available in the country through legislative means.
The media is the major agency which is the image constructor of the world, which creates a perception about individuals and countries among the general public. This perception could be positive or negative as desired to achieve political objectives. It is imperative to promote effective media policy to provide credible information to the public at national and international levels.
We should embrace the new technology and use it intelligently and positively. The government departments need to upgrade their websites to catch up with society.
There is a need to engage people in the dynamics of coercive diplomacy and grey hybrid war. So that the people of Pakistan can understand the war doctrine, methodologies, and tactics of the enemies. We have to open up debates on the subject. Last but not the least, it is about time that all political parties show unity and foster good relationships between government and opposition. In the parliament to ensure political stability to counter the grave threat of hybrid warfare.