By Ali Javaid

Hybrid warfare is not a new phenomenon, apart from its excessive use in 21st century, it is always seen as a key element in inducing the wars in the enemy territory. As Carl von Clausewitz wrote, “War is more than a true chameleon that slightly adapts its characteristics to the given case.” In 1778, French allied with the Americans to weaken the British, an example of supporting an insurgent movement for one’s own political cause. States have used other means such as guerilla warfare to attack enemy’s communication and strategic lines, the use of hate speeches in the public areas as a propaganda machine against the states. The use of regular and irregular forces, from within the states, have been a vital strategy for inducing the wars in enemy’s region.

The blurred and obscure shapes of warfare in the 21st century have led to the false and impractical military strategies. States are now more involved in intrastate conflicts rather than interstate conflicts. Today, with the advent of Globalization, the concept of nation-state is changing. The borders are becoming porous, economic disparities are on the rise, gun trade has become a useful income source for actors and identity crisis have caused an upheaval in intrastate conflicts. One third of all the present members of the United Nations (UN) are exposed to the instability issues such as rebellion, ethnic conflicts and insurgent movements.

Pakistan is the country more vulnerable to the hybrid warfare, it is being victimized of this warfare for the last many years. The analysis of Pakistan’s current strategic environment suggest that enemy forces are deploying their unconventional means to weaken its ground. From the crimes of target killing to the suicide attacks, all have caused a trouble for Pakistan’s political and strategic scenarios. In the March 2016, attack in Lahore’s public park on the Easter, Army Public School Peshawar attack in 2014, which killed at least 141 children; cyber-attacks on various public websites, demoralization of society through information warfare, ongoing criminal activities in the country are some recent examples. In all these incidents almost all components (conventional, irregular, criminal and cyber warfare) of hybrid warfare have been utilized.

Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa, while addressing the 137th PMA Long Course passing out ceremony stated, “Pakistan is facing enormous challenges both in conventional and sub-conventional domains. Our enemies know that they cannot beat us fair and square, and have thus subjected us to a cruel, evil and protracted hybrid war.”

Numerous known and unknown internal and external actors are threatening Pakistan’s internal stability. Pakistan’s archenemy from the east and the vulnerable Afghanistan from the west are trouble makers for Pakistan’s political and economic strategies. Foreign enemy forces are using basic identity indicators to create identity crisis in Pakistan. The religious, ethnic, historical, socio-economic factors are targeted. The Indian involvement in these related incidents is now a proven fact. India has not only threatened to use conventional and regular methods of warfare, but it has also used irregular tactics to internally destabilize Pakistan. Kulbhushan Yadav’s case is a no mystery. Indian involvement in Balochistan, the backing of Balochistan liberation Army (BLA) is a strategy to destabilize Pakistan. In 2013, Indian Army chief General Vijay Kumar Singh acknowledged the fact that after the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the Indian army created a Tactical Support Division (TSD), which carried out bomb blasts in Pakistan, and economically supported the separatist elements in Balochistan.

Indo-US nexus in Afghanistan can seriously damage Pakistan’s relations with Afghanistan. India is reaching out to other states like Afghanistan and Iran to isolate Pakistan in South-Asia. Afghanistan is alleging Pakistan of supporting Taliban in Afghanistan, in June 2015, Afghanistan parliament was attacked and Afghanistan, allegedly, blamed Pakistan for the disaster. Pakistan with nothing against itself denied that claim. Afghanistan’s support to the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) is not a ghost story. In May 2016, Balochistan Interior Minister, Sarfaraz Bugti, said that six Afghan spies have been arrested from Balochistan. Indian influence over Afghanistan is changing the perception of Afghan public regarding Pakistan.

Enemy forces are now targeting Pakistan’s socio-economic strategies and actions. CPEC is a one big example that can bring a positive change in Pakistan’s economy. CPEC project is under target as India wants to be a regional power and in no case it wants China to get ahead of it, on the other hand it doesn’t want Pakistan to rise in any regard. Religious and ethnics conflicts are given heat with the help of non-state actors to cripple the CPEC project but all have proven fruitless.

Pakistan is exposed to many conflicts within and out of the state. Pakistan’s geo-strategic location makes it vulnerable to traditional and non-traditional threats. Information war, cultural and structural violence, resource control and religious wars are being triggered in Pakistan by the foreign actors. Pakistan needs to understand all the vulnerabilities and threats that it is exposed to, and decision makers need to make such policies that could chalk out and tackle such threats. Enemy states will keep on targeting Pakistan in the form of conventional and sub-conventional attacks, but Pakistan’s policy makers need to establish grounds to handle all those attacks. Pakistan is fighting hard to address the internal and external issues, Pakistan’s efforts in the war on terror cannot be underestimated. But Pakistan needs to focus on the policy areas such as education, media, religion, economy and social values to eradicate the divide in the nation. Pakistan is on its way to become a developed state and this can only be achieved with raising the socio-economic and political standards. Internal stability is first and foremost so that external attacks can be tackled.

The writer is a Research Associate at Pakistan House.

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