Hybrid warfare: challenges and response
“Each era has its own type of war, its own boundary conditions and its own preconceptions. “- Carl von Clausewitz
HYBRID warfare is a way of waging global conflict with an adversary. Nation-states try to use the IT, information, manifestos and secrets of the intelligence apparatus, economic and diplomatic channels, and irregular armies.
The goal is to subvert the enemy’s decision-making, confuse to respond with force, and maximize one’s own strategic gains as a fait accompli. Hybrid Warfare was invented by Western analysts after the Russian attack on Crimea in 2014.
Military Balance (2015) defines Hybrid Warfare as “the use of military and non-military tools in an integrated campaign, designed to surprise, take initiative, and gain psychological and physical benefits using diplomatic means; sophisticated and rapid information, electronic and cybernetic operations; secret and sometimes overt military and intelligence actions and economic pressure ”.
Hybrid operations have become more deadly and ubiquitous due to advancements in technologies such as the internet and social media. Deadly cyber attacks of considerable magnitude using military weapons are launched by belligerents.
Now the reach of hybrid operations is much deeper and damaging. Due to its geopolitical importance, Pakistan is subject to multiple gray area threats. The enemy, through constant propaganda campaigns, tries to portray Pakistan as a state responsible for sponsoring militancy in the region.
A discriminatory attitude has been observed within the FATF where, although it fulfills most of the conditions, the country is still included in the gray list. Today, after August 15, 2021, when the Taliban took control of Kabul, even the failure of the Ghani government in Afghanistan is blamed on Pakistan.
Although it acts as a facilitator of peace in Afghanistan, the country is sued to do more and be a scapegoat.
At UNGA, Indian Prime Minister Modi tried to blame Pakistan for encouraging regressive thinking and tried to win the sympathy of the world, without considering that the IOK has been under siege since August 5, 2019.
Terrorist attacks to subvert economic growth are also on the cards of the enemies of this earth. The law enforcement agencies and the Pakistani people bravely faced the terror monster.
Although the country has succeeded in controlling the spread of terrorism as a systematic campaign, the quiet efforts of terrorist sleeper cells remind us of continued vigilance against these elements.
Propaganda in the form of fake news is at the heart of the Hybrid War against the country. National institutions and leaders are slandered to discredit them.
Different projects such as CPEC are under hybrid attacks. People are encouraged to make these projects controversial.
In the IT field, the country has recently observed cyber attacks against leaders and national institutions such as NADRA and FBR.
These cyber attacks remind us that cybersecurity has serious implications for national security and that these systems / targets need to be well protected.
Pakistan is one of the major food producing countries, currently the seventh largest producer of wheat in the world. However, rising prices and inflation are also an emerging threat that can sow discord between state and population if not resolved in time. Ehsaas’ flagship program is a step in the right direction. However, efforts should be made to extend these programs preferably across political boundaries.
Pakistan should not go much further while upholding the legitimacy of the Taliban, as the world is still watching the actions of the Taliban regime.
Pakistan’s adversaries can exploit this situation and the country’s exit from the gray list could be further delayed.
To be successful in this emerging area of warfare known as Hybrid Warfare, there needs to be a national narrative beyond political, ethnic, and religious segmentation.
The pride of the country, the prestige of the nation should be the most important goal. To achieve this goal, all segments of society must converge on this national goal and a healthy nation response will help counter hybrid threats.