NationalVolume 14 Issue # 10

Multi-front attack against Pakistan

The year 2018 ended with an established fact that the enemies of Pakistan have imposed a hybrid war on the country. Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar  Javed Bawja, while addressing a passing out parade in Karachi, said “information and modern technology has changed the nature of warfare now being waged and has tilted the balance in favour of those nations that have embraced the change readily. But frankly speaking, even that will not be sufficient as the ever-increasing threat of hybrid war, to which we are subjected to, will need a totally new approach and change of traditional mindset.

“The response to such onslaughts or threats cannot always be kinetic in nature,” said the army chief, adding that a superior narrative needs to be propagated to deal with attacks in the cognitive domain. He regretfully added, “Mostly misguided by ambitions, blinded by hate, ethnicity or religion or simply overawed by social media onslaught, some of our own boys and girls readily fall victim to such”.
It is the duty of Pakistanis that they should try to understand the true nature, method and concept of a hybrid war if they want to save themselves from the enemies’ destructive propaganda in this war. There is still no established definition of a hybrid war in the world because the situation is still in the making.

Even, NATO’s 28 countries were not able to produce a single and agreed-upon Definition in their sitting. However, Collins English dictionary has defined it as “a military strategy in which conventional warfare is integrated with tactics such as covert operations and cyberattacks “. Joshua Stowell writes, “The term hybrid war (military institutions use the term hybrid threat) connotes the use of conventional military force supported by irregular and cyber warfare tactics. In practical application, the Russian concept of nonlinear conflict exemplifies hybrid warfare strategy”. Munir Akram, former Pakistan ambassador to the UN, writes:”Western analysts have termed the comprehensive approach employed by Russia in Ukraine (encompassing narrative control, cyberattacks, use of anonymous militias and irregular forces, clandestine supplies and diplomatic support) as hybrid warfare. The Russians refer to it as the ‘Gerasimov Doctrine’ (after the Russian military chief). This form of warfare is also called: asymmetrical, non-conventional, gray zone conflict, ‘new generation warfare’, ‘whole of government’ approach and so on. It is emerging as the preferred modality in today’s contests between the great powers”.   
Interestingly, Chinese thinker Sun Tzu (770-476 BC) has already written: “ultimate excellence lies not in winning every battle, but in defeating the enemy without ever fighting. The highest form of warfare is to attack the enemy’s strategy itself”. Sun Tzu’s these objectives are achieved through a hybrid war in our modern age. 

The tools which are being used in this war are AI (Artificial Intelligence)- based autonomous weapons including drones, robots, etc., social media, data mining, algorithms, bots, advanced cyber programmes, etc. The “internet of things” will connect 30 billion devices by 2020. So, those people who control these devices will rule the world. All these tools are used to attack the vulnerabilities of the enemy like economic, political, social, regional, sectarian, linguistic issues, etc.    

Pakistan is under a hybrid attack and the adversaries are trying to exploit the economic, political and sectarian vulnerabilities of the country. Economically, Pakistan is in a very serious situation. Corrupt politicians like Nawaz Sharif and Asif Ali Zardari and economic hit-men like Ishaq Dar, have put Pakistan in a very precarious position.  “Pakistan’s debt and liabilities have gone from Rs6,000 billion in 2008 to Rs30,000 billion. Pakistan’s current account deficit has gone from $3.1 billion in 2013 to $18 billion”. The IMF and other countries can use this situation against the interests of the people of Pakistan.

Unfortunately, Pakistan has very corrupt leaders who have links with other countries. These unpatriotic leaders also have their wealth and properties in those countries. Corrupt political leaders have become a potential vulnerability for our adversaries to exploit. They do not scruple to indulge in anti-state activities to protect their wealth stashed in other countries. Then, Pakistan has a sectarian problem which the enemy is also exploiting. 

Apart from exploiting these three vulnerabilities, the hybrid war against Pakistan is focused on the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), Balochistan, the former FATA region, and Gilgit-Baltistan. India has openly declared a hybrid war against Pakistan in these areas.  Indian former Army Chief General Vijay Kumar Singh has stated that “following the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the Indian army raised a Tactical Support Division (TSD), which carried out bomb blasts in Pakistan, and doled out money to the separatist elements in Balochistan”. The former RAW chief, Ajit Doval, has threatened Pakistan in these words: “You may do one Mumbai; you may lose Balochistan” . Kulbushan Jadhav’s arrest in 2016 also clearly shows that Pakistan is under a hybrid war attack.

India is not only exploiting these vulnerabilities  but also promoting negative narrative about Pakistan’s state and security institutions in the world. According to the reports, “India has launched a media campaign worth Rs7 billion against Pakistan. As part of the campaign, India has already launched a multimedia website and app of its Balochi radio service. India has also started a TV news channel called Zee Salam which broadcasts in Urdu language.  India has created about 350K+ “Bot” profiles on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter under Pakistani names, mostly with Baloch and Pashtun surnames. They are also sharing 1000’s of fake photos/videos of Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, Sindh and FATA on a daily basis, systematically manipulating Pakistan’s social media with clever misinformation”. 

Through these radio and TV stations, India is inciting the Baloch community to stand up against Pakistan. India had used the same technique against Pakistan in 1971. In 1971, India used hybrid strategy (supporting Mujib’s six-point plan, instigating linguistic hatred, the genocide and refugees narrative, launching anti-Pakistan propaganda, training the Mukti Bahini ) to  intervene militarily in East Pakistan. India and America also want to halt CPEC. So, both countries are using Afghanistan to fulfil their nefarious agendas through different proxies as well as through the social media.

According to another report, India has made a plan to create a new tri-service agency for cyber warfare. The Defence Cyber Agency will work in coordination with the National Cyber Security Advisor. It will have more than 1,000 experts who will be distributed into a number of formations of the Army, Navy and IAF “. It shows, very soon, India will become a strong power in AI-based war machines.  

From the above-mentioned facts and figures there should not be any doubt that Pakistan is facing a hybrid war.  Pakistan should remove its vulnerabilities and get command over AI-based technology if it wants to defeat its enemies.