Hybrid War: Challenges to Pakistan
BEING invited as a speaker to an international one-day seminar on the topic “Strategic Coercion and Gray Hybrid War-Options for Pakistan” by the Sustainable Development Policy Institute, Islamabad on 25th April 2019 was an eye opener to many facts on the social, political and strategic dimensions and challenges of the hybrid nation-states are faced with. Besides the inaugural one, the conference comprised two sessions and involved speakers of national and international imminence including Dr Shireen Mazari. Hybrid war(s) reminded me a dialogue from the Leo Tolstoy’s War and Peace between two princes, one new and another aged. The young one says that “a time will come when there will be no war”? The old prince laughs and responds, “No war — bring the syringe and take blood out of human veins, and put water instead, then there would be no war.” It proves that war is an essential and necessary institution with its use as an important tool since the time primitive. War played an important role in the rise and fall of Greek city states, empires and nation-states. Its dimensions have been changed and mobilized differently, but its nature and role remains the same. War has been institutionalized with variety of new tactics to achieve its purpose. It has to be countered diplomatically, militarily and politically.
Hybrid war is one of the kinds of war whose dimensions might have not been of a hot war situation, but its implementations and designs are employed to target adversary. It serves the very purpose of the international politics that it is a struggle for gaining power, wealth and influence. In the age of globalization where hot pursuits of actual war seems less achievable or appear destructive, the hybrid war effects appear more sustainable and afflicting on adversaries. It is an institutionalized version of tactics with rather non-military tactics and being indirect; at times can be direct. The methods employed are of non military means with no annexation of territory or forces mobilization. The goals to achieve through the hybrid war can be political, social, strategic, educational, cultural and psychological; and the achieving targets can be harming unity, integrity, happiness and solidarity. Pakistan is not alone to be challenged by hybrid warfare tactics. There are rather a large number of countries challenged by its devices. However, Pakistan is one of the leading countries highly indexed by this sort of warfare. Not one but many factors are accountable for the scenario. They are both internal and external. The situations are two like, either really or pretending.
The major internal situation accountable for the situation is the distrustful situation the countries has experienced over the years. As Harold Laski describes in his masterpiece. “The Grammar of Politics”, trust building grows out of the evaluation of a system based on the peoples’ expectations, experiences and beliefs. Not one but many factors account for the process of trust building, but important ones are legitimacy of the rulers; the relationship of the governed and governors; and the functionary role of its major governing agencies which in modern polity can be grouped into executive, judiciary and legislature etc. In Pakistan, people have lost trust in public institutions. In a country or situation where trust building is low, the chances of hybrid chances are higher. Any slight rumor or chaos can be well circulated with fear. For example, a news item flashed that a shop was raided with horse meat sold as beef unnecessarily refrains people from buying beef for months. The news item may be not based on fact, but the distrustful situation developed in the country can have its implications all over. The lack of trust building has further paved way for alienation situation where people in large fall in that category. The alienated citizenry have higher sense of frustration and lack of trust. The rise in alienation is largely due to internet and social media development where news is circulated within no time. But the lack of good administrative, judicial and social institutions deteriorates the situation further. The lack of social justice built on necessary state pillars makes the situation vulnerable for hybrid wars.
The rise of terrorism in Pakistan over the years accounts for hybrid like situations the country is faced with. Terrorist activities based on sectarian and religious fervor have grown all over Pakistan. The wave of terrorism has hit all corners and communities of the country. In large they include innocent citizens and powerless elements of society who believe that government has failed in large to defend them. For example, in Balochistan, which has been suffering highly from hybrid warfare, the Hazara community largely based in Quetta and its superb have been the target of terrorism due to economic and sectarian reasons without any concrete steps taken by the government. One of the factors accountable for hybrid situation in Pakistan is Indian factor as a hostile neighbour with which relations have become more intense than before, particularly during the previous five years rule of BJP under Modi. Countries with hostile neighbours have traditionally been suffered by propaganda, cold war and terrorist threats — all exceeding the nature of warfare.
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The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the viewpoint or stance of SDPI.