Pakistan’s Hybrid War

“Army will win hybrid war with nation’s help,” said Chief of the Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa. “We are facing the challenge that has been imposed on us in the form of the fifth-generation or hybrid war. Its purpose is to discredit the country and its armed forces and spread chaos,” he further added.

For the past few years, Pakistan’s military establishment has been incessantly warning the nation against hybrid war and threats. Our armed forces’ profound understanding and readiness to this novel strategic threat and onslaught are highly commendable. Today, we’ll look deeper into the meanings of the hybrid war for the readers to understand in this brief treatise and its repercussions for our nation.

Frank G. Hoffman, a foreign policy advisor at the US Foreign Policy Research Institute, was the first to propagate the notion of Hybrid Warfare. According to him, it’s a type of military strategy employing political, conventional, irregular, and cyberwarfare comingling other influencing approaches such as fake news, diplomacy, and foreign electoral intervention. Worryingly enough, in hybrid warfare, it is often difficult to spot aggressors with subversive efforts to impose attribution or retribution.

India’s persistent hostile approach to Pakistan is an example of this form of warfare. It has involved a combination of activities, including disinformation, economic manipulation, use of proxies and insurgencies in Baluchistan and erstwhile FATA, diplomatic pressure, and military actions. India is relentlessly engaged in posing a hybrid war against Pakistan since its birth, only to be rocketed recently with increased involvement in funding and training separatist militias in Pakistan, conducting economic subversion by politicizing international bodies like FATF, etc. and carrying out diplomatic sabotage in the form of disinformation campaigns.

Pakistan, like any developing country, has its own set of vicissitudes and vulnerabilities, most importantly the racial and sectarian divisions, poor economy and governance for past many decades, political instability, and weak institutions, all of which serve as easy targets for its adversaries to maneuver through the grey-zone tactics. Owing to the rampant subversion and sabotage by Indian and Israeli agencies, it is highly imperative to understand the realities of hybrid warfare to formulate a comprehensive national response. Luckily, Pakistan’s military establishment and intelligence agencies are ever more ready for such challenges, and their response options aim at, first, countering the complex dynamics of hybrid war and analyzing how they are taking a toll on Pakistan’s national security. Secondly, COAS General Bajwa further seeks to generate a timely and well-informed discourse to educate the general masses about the threat and chalk out a road map to help defeat this multifaceted onslaught more effectively.

In short, Pakistan is entering into challenging and uncertain times with the Taliban’s takeover in Kabul and India’s persistent and escalating employment of a host of different tactics of hybrid war against Pakistan call for our nation to firmly stand behind our army and intelligence agencies. More than ever, we need much-coveted effective information campaigning utilizing social and electronic media coupled with innovative use of technology to counter these current and imminent challenges.

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