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The Express Tribune

Published Date: Nov 22, 2012

LECTURE: KEYBOARD THE NEW WEAPON OF OUR AGE, SAYS EXPERT

Sophisticated weapons and modern warfare might endanger humanity like never before, said columnist and Sustainable Development Policy Institute Senior Adviser Ejaz Haider on Wednesday.

He was speaking as a guest lecturer at Quaid-i-Azam University.

Titled “Changing Nature of War”, the lecture focused
on the impact of technological innovations, ideologies and changes in battlefield tactics.

“We are entering an era that is likely to be far more dangerous than anything man has seen so far,” he said. “The concept of distance and stealth to win a fight has acquired a new and dangerous meaning.”

Haider said wars are a puzzling phenomenon, because despite the suffering they cause, they still reoccur. Political scientists and war theorists have tried to present rational explanations behind wars, but the mystery still remains.

He said new weapons are sometimes developed as a spinoff of technological evolution, and sometimes as a conscious pursuit to overcome the advantage of potential adversaries.

“To understand the context of war and to pursue peace, we must realise that human beings fight because they desire self-recognition,” he explained.

On one hand, wars are being fought at the sub-strategic level, forcing armies to fight in an environment for which they are generally not trained and equipped. On the other hand, the possibilities of cyber war and “genetically-targeted” biological weapons are becoming real, he explained.

The use of such weapons is still a futuristic idea, but the enabling expertise and technologies already exist, he added.

He also talked about the significance of new actors in cyber warfare.

He said the keyboard will be the new weapon of our age, where individuals and groups, not just states, will have the potential of causing mass destruction by hacking into national security systems.