Hybrid war: Challenges & response
“Every age has its own kind of war, its own limiting conditions, and its own peculiar preconceptions.”—Carl von Clausewitz
HYBRID war is a way of waging a comprehensive conflict with an adversary. Nation states try to use cyber, information, overt and covert means of intelligence apparatus, economic and diplomatic channels and irregular armies.
The aim is to subvert enemy decision making, confuse to respond with force and maximize own strategic gains as fait ac-compli. Hybrid war was coined by western analysts after the Russian attack on Crimea in 2014.
Military Balance (2015) defines hybrid war as ”the use of military and non-military tools in an integrated campaign, designed to achieve surprise, seize the initiative and gain psychological as well as physical advantages utilizing dip-lomatic means; sophisticated and rapid information, electronic and cyber operations; covert and occasionally overt military and intelligence action and economic pressure”.
The hybrid operations have become more lethal and pervasive due to advancement in technologies such as the internet and social media. Lethal cyber-attacks of magnitude of military weapons are being launched by belligerents.
Now the outreach of hybrid operations is far deeper and detrimental. Due to its geopolitical importance, Pakistan is subject to multiple grey zone threats. Enemy through constant propaganda campaigns is trying to portray Pakistan as a state which is responsible for sponsoring militancy in the region.
A discriminatory attitude was observed in FATF where despite fulfilling most of the conditions, the country is still included in the grey-list. Now after 15 August 2021, when the Taliban took control of Kabul even the failure of the Ghani government in Afghanistan is being attributed to Paki-stan.
Despite acting as facilitator of peace in Afghanistan, the country is being pursued for doing more and being scapegoating.
At UNGA, PM Modi of India tried to blame Pakistan for encouraging regressive thinking and tried to gain sympathies of the world, without considering that IOK is under siege since 5 August 2019.
The terrorist attacks to subvert economic growth are also on the cards of enemies of this land. Law enforcement agen-cies and people of Pakistan have bravely faced the monster of terrorism.
Although the country has successfully con-trolled the spread of terrorism as systematic campaign, however, discrete efforts by terrorists’ sleeper cells remind us for continuous vigilance against these elements.
Propaganda in the form of fake news is central to hybrid war waged against the country. National institutions and leadership is being maligned to discredit them.
Different projects such as CPEC are under hybrid attacks. People are being instigated to make these projects contentious.
In the cyber domain, recently the country observed cyber-attacks against national leadership and institutions such as NADRA and FBR.
These cyber-attacks remind us that cyber security has severe implications for national security and such systems/targets should be well protected.
Pakistan is a leading food producing country, currently seventh largest producer of wheat in the world. However, price hike and inflation are also an emerging threat which can sow discord between state and people if not resolved timely. Ehsaas flagship program is a step in the right direction. However, efforts should be made to expand such programs preferably beyond political boundaries.
Pakistan should not go far beyond while advocating legitimacy for the Taliban as the world is still watching actions from the Taliban regime.
Adversaries of Pakistan can exploit this situation and exit of the country from the grey-list might be delayed further.
To succeed in this emerging war-fighting domain known as hybrid war, it is necessary that there should be a national narrative beyond political, ethnic, religion segmentation.
Pride of the country, prestige of the nation should be the foremost important objective. To achieve this objective all segments of society should converge on this national ob-jective and a wholesome response by the nation will help counter hybrid threats.