While conventional war still can take place, it is no longer the primary means of destroying a rival state. The 21st Century security environment is characterized by the hybrid nature of wars. At present, there is no agreed definition of hybrid warfare. In 2007, Hoffman gave the first definition of hybrid warfare in academic published work: “Hybrid wars incorporate a range of different modes of warfare, including conventional capabilities, irregular tactics and formations, terrorist acts including indiscriminate violence and coercion, and criminal disorder”. Although hybrid warfare tactics are old, it is the technological advancement that has made this warfare more and more effective and a preferred strategy of warfare in the modern world.
The 21st Century is characterized by an explosion of information and swift advancements in every sphere of human life. Military art and science are no exception to this age of transformation and expansion. The accessibility of modern technological tools has shifted the mode of warfare. In this warfare, violence is so tactfully conducted that the victim is not even aware that it is a victim of war and the victim is not aware that it is losing the war. The secret nature of this warfare makes it the most dangerous warfare generation of all time.
What we need to know about hybrid warfare is that it involves covert activities conducted by state or non-state actors to destabilize and sabotage, conduct terrorism, and create false perceptions and divide a state on a religious, sectarian, and ethnic basis employing multiple conventional and unconventional tools of warfare, including political, economic, social, and intelligence spheres.
With emerging modern hybrid warfare strategies and instruments, an adversary state can achieve its objectives without fighting a war on the battleground. Hybrid warfare tactics are used to damage the peace and stability of a state and weaken it economically particularly a nuclear state because the deterrence capabilities of such a state avoid any direct military confrontation.
Pakistan, as the sole nuclear power in the Muslim world and a key regional country, is facing multiple threats of hybrid warfare. Hostile countries, particularly India, are making the best use of modern warfare tactics against Pakistan which include, clandestine acts, conducting terrorism, and media propaganda to harm the country`s image in the international community. India has persistently been waging a hybrid war against Pakistan for seven decades. The recent years have seen an increased Indian involvement, funding, and training separatist militias in Pakistan, conducting economic subversion by lobbying and politicizing international bodies such as FATF which is exposed to be a politicized approach towards Pakistan. Moreover, Indian is engaged in diplomatic sabotage in the form of disinformation campaigns.
The hostile elements are attempting to portray Pakistan, an unsafe country. Unfortunately, the field of sports has also become the target of enemies’ nefarious designs. The recent cancellation of the England and New Zealand cricket team tours to Pakistan is another example of the hybrid war against the country. The New Zealand cricket team called off their first tour after 18 years last month, followed by a decision by the England and Wales Cricket Board (ECB) to cancel a bilateral series scheduled in Pakistan. This time, it was again the Indian plot that led to the cancellation of the bilateral cricket series in Pakistan. According to Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting Fawad Chaudhry, the devices that were used to send threats to the New Zealand cricket team belonged to India. Moreover, a fake post was created which told the New Zealand Cricket board and government to refrain from sending the team to Pakistan as it would be targeted. Following this, Abhinandan Mishra, the Sunday Guardian’s bureau chief, in his article, claimed that Pakistan is not safe for foreign teams and may be targeted by terrorists.
From sports grounds to economic subversion and diplomatic sabotage, hybrid warfare has been waged against Pakistan. Though Pakistan has developed credible capabilities to deter nuclear and conventional aggression, it still faces multiple threats from hybrid warfare. National unity is key for success against hostile elements. We, as a nation, have to fight this warfare. A firm unity between the nation and the state narrative is needed because we are confronted with the war of fake narratives.
*Sher Ali Kakar is working as a Research Officer at Balochistan Think Tank Network (BTTN), Quetta. Email: [email protected]