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Published Date: Nov 21, 2012

SDPI PRESS RELEASE (November 21,2012)

War is the older than the oldest profession. It has been impacted by technological innovations, ideologies and changes in battlefield tactics. But leaving all else aside, men fight because they desire self-recognition. This must be understood both for understanding the conduct of war as well as the pursuit of peace.

This was the gist of the Dean’s Distinguished Lecture delivered by Ejaz Haider, Senior Advisor at Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI) and a journalist, speaking on the “Changing Nature of War” at the Quaid-e-Azam University, Islamabad here on Wednesday.

Haider said that while political scientists and war theorists have tried to present rational explanations of why people fight, it is still a puzzle because wars entail terrible suffering and yet they recur. Drawing on war theories, Haider said that fighting never happens in a vacuum. Sometimes a spinoff of technological evolution and other times as a conscious pursuit of blunting the potential adversaries’ advantage, new weapons are developed. Man also learnt, early on, that winning in fighting requires an asymmetric advantage over the enemy.

He said that in modern times the nature of war has undergone a change. At the one level wars are now being fought at the sub-strategic level, forcing armies to fight in an environment for which they are generally not trained and equipped. At another level, we have the real possibilities of cyber war and genetically-targeted biological weapons.

While the use of such biological weapons, for now, lies in the future, the enabling expertise and technologies are already in place. As for cyber war, the top-secret US-Israeli programme to strike at Iran’s nuclear capability, codenamed Olympic Games, is already a matter of fact.

Haider said that the keyboard will be the new weapon allowing individuals and groups, not just the states, to wreak havoc by hacking into systems, including nuclear launch sites.

“We are entering an era which is likely to be far more dangerous than  anything ‘man’ has seen so far. The concept of distance and stealth to win a fight has acquired new and very dangerous meanings.” He said.