Pakistan is involved in a 5GW Hybrid War and It must Defend itself

Spearhead Analysis – 31.08.2018

By Fatima Ayub
Research Analyst, Spearhead Research

Sun Tzu once said that “supreme excellence consists in breaking the enemy’s resistance without fighting”. Hybrid warfare aims to achieve such a victory. In light of the ever-evolving, globally transcendent threats that are quickly beginning to replace conventional methods of confrontational war, the term hybrid warfare has acquired significance.

The art of this fourth or fifth generation warfare, more commonly known as 5GW is more decentralized, fluid and is strategically calculated to engage the enemy on all fronts simultaneously – conventionally, non-conventionally and irregular targeting of the opponent’s opportunity of growth , without complying with the act of declaring an actual war. What is interesting is the idea that this form of ‘modern’ warfare has only recently surfaced as a cogent threat. The case of Russia is often cited as –?

In this context Pakistan too is at war. The Army Chief has on several occasions referred to the ‘cruel and protracted tactics’ employed by the country’s adversaries to undermine it from within. Being in the midst of intense geopolitical conflicts Pakistan has been increasingly exposed to wars that are non-linear and thus, the Army Chief’s inference is clear. In the midst of India’s adversarial Modi regime on the East and what appears to be a never-ending war against international terrorism in the country’s Western neighbor Afghanistan, Pakistan is at the receiving end of a constant threat that threatens to spill over from the regional instability that surrounds it.

It is undeniable that India’s overt and covert involvement aimed at undermining Pakistan’s security nexus is a hard truth. The case of Kulbashan Yadev unearthed the damning RAW network engaged in exploiting anti-state elements within the country  elements. But this is not the first case of its kind; In 2013, Indian Army chief General Vijay Kumar Singh admitted that following the 2008 Mumbai attacks, the Indian army raised a Tactical Support Division (TSD), which carried out bomb blasts in Pakistan, and paid huge incentives to the ‘separatist’ elements in Balochistan. Fast forward to 2014 and demagogic hardliner Narendra Modi’s election as PM and Indian policy has since then been conducted by the more nefarious ‘Doval Doctrine’. This doctrine is based on former spy and current National Security Adviser Ajit Doval’s three-tier offensive that includes; One, an aggressive response based on ‘double intensity’ attack in the case of cross border activity of any kind regardless of the human casualties involved on either side. Two; Defense diversification involving the purchasing of defense equipment from multiple countries and manufacturers so that in adverse times  India can rely on a multitude of suppliers to supply its armed forces. From Russia being the key supplier the U.S.A, Israel and France all hold comparable shares in India’s Defense sector purchases which allowed New Delhi to become the fifth-largest defence spender in the world in 2017. Third and more infamously; Preemptive attacks to counter terrorism, which has meant that Indian attacks towards it north-east including its brutal strikes in Myanamar serve as a form of pre-emptive ‘revenge’ strikes to signal a no holds barred approach towards any threat. What is even more telling about New Delhi’s Pakistan strategy is the statement by BJP politician Manohar Parikar earlier this year that “India will fight terrorists with terrorists”, signaling that perhaps the fourth limb of the Doval doctrine is consumed entirely by Indian attempts at neutralizing anti-state threats it faces internally by  funding and propping up anti-Pakistan factions within the country’s indigenous communities. RAW’s involvement in Balochistan substantiated by Yadev’s confession is proof that the strategy of exploiting Pakistan’s domestic weaknesses is already at work.

According to counter-terrorism expert, Col John J McCuent, hybrid conflicts are full spectrum wars with both physical and conceptual dimensions: the former is only a struggle against an armed enemy but the latter however is a wider struggle for control and support of the combat zone’s indigenous, restive population, the support of the home fronts of the intervening nations, and the support of the international community and alliances.

Globally, India’s objectives to isolate Pakistan and vindicate its own standing in the world have been at constant play. The 2017 BRICS summit was the first time when the head of states of Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa condemned ‘terrorist’ organizations in Pakistan and called out by name Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammad, and the Haqqani network. New Delhi’s lobbyists in Washington ensured that in the past 24 months since the election of the Trump regime, the US maintains its deafening silence on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir, openly declares the pro-Pakistan, freedom fighting group leadership of Hizbul Mujahideen as ‘global terrorists’ and overtly supports India’s factually contentious claims on its objecting to CPEC’s route by opposing the merger of Gilgit-Baltistan to the economic corridor. The combination of diplomatic pressure and international sanctioning of certain Pakistani individuals and organizations alleged to be involved in terrorism by UN Security Council Committee established under UN Resolution 1267 is a reflection of US power exploited by India through a sustained campaign.

To add to this, ceasefire violations (CFVs) along the Line of Control have increased six fold from 2015 to 2018 and unprovoked firing from across the border has seen the highest rate of civilian casualties ever recorded. However, there has been no reaction from the global community or international watchdogs about India’s consistent human rights violations on either the 2003 India-Pakistan Ceasefire or its unaccountable bloodshed in Indian occupied Kashmir.

There is also no question  that Pakistan’s moribund relations with Afghanistan and uncertainty in relations with Iran and the United States are also a result of India’s open ‘hybrid’ activities in Pakistan. Trade between Pakistan and Afghanistan has reached the lowest level in the history of Pak-Afghan trade relations and the very potent threat from India’s multi-million dollar military aid to Afghanistan has meant that it is not only the biggest regional donor to Kabul since 2003 but that New Delhi effectively gets to propel its  influence and agenda through this monetary alliance. The present state of  Kabul-Islamabad relations  have been affected by the recent Taliban attacks in Ghazni  and it seems that in case of any security lapses in Afghanistan’s internal sphere, the first reaction by the Ghani regime is to signal blame in Pakistan’s direction.

What is perhaps most alarming is that on a global stage, Pakistan’s innumerable human and resource sacrifices in its war against terror are being neglected and undermined.

How then does a country of 193 million, merely 71 years into its existence, geographically located in the crucial hub of a revolutionizing global economic project of CPEC’s stature that is set to stabilize its developing economy, that has been affected by internal security challenges of Taliban, Al-Qaeda and a newly minted Islamic State presence in its turf, fight the menace of this non-linear warfare that threatens to stoke disorder inside the country?

Contemporary security experts have long been of the view that rather than develop strategies based on ‘hybrid’ challenges (an elusive and catch-all term), a country’s decision-makers should stay away from it and consider warfare for what it has always been: a complex set of interconnected threats and forceful means waged to further political motives.

At a recent event sponsored by NATO and organized by the Atlantic Council last year, attendees were told that “there is no agreed definition of terms related to hybrid warfare.” In other words, the 28 members of the North Atlantic Alliance were unable to agree on a clear definition of the ‘bogey’ that their countries are facing. How can NATO leaders expect to develop an effective military strategy if they cannot define what they believe is the threat of the day?

Col John J McCuent further elaborated on this principle and stated that to secure and stabilize the attacked state’s indigenous population, the intervening forces must immediately rebuild or restore security, essential services, local government, self-defense forces and essential elements of the economy.

According to Zahid Hussain, eminent political analyst, Pakistan’s civil-military leadership has failed to understand that external security threats can only work in an environment of internal strife and popular mass discontent. The results achieved by the Pakistan military negate this assertion

 When faced with an externally sponsored internal threat the first reaction is to use repressive measures. This mechanism of counter-productively turning the guns against one’s own citizens creates a space for resentment and breeds defiant and open contempt amongst the masses. The case of the Pashtoon Tahaffuz Movement is a striking example of a movement based on some grievances that was exploited and sponsored by external forces. After initially curbing this dissent a more nuanced strategy was adopted to address grievances and expose subversive elements. A myopic institutional view of the suffering of the population in conflict zones, and of ignoring human rights has meant that protests conducted by aggrieved communities are inadvertently inflamed. Curbs on the media, enforced disappearances and extra judicial killings do not work and eventually stand exposed. In his seminal book on Future Warfare, renowned military strategist Colin Gray convincingly argues that future, and by extension modern, warfare is essentially more of the same.

Most, if not all, conflicts in the history of mankind have been defined by the use of asymmetries that exploit an opponent’s weaknesses, thus leading to complex situations involving regular/irregular and conventional/unconventional tactics. Similarly, the rise of cyber warfare has not fundamentally changed the nature of warfare, but expanded its use in a new dimension.

Pakistan’s strategy must be based on acknowledging that only the nature of the game has changed and that has to  adapt to the new rules of warfare to avoid isolation, demoralization and loss. Just as our military leadership has acknowledged the presence and impact of hybrid warfare on the country, it is important for the newly elected civilian leadership to work with the military to orchestrate state power to the fullest extent. Pakistan’s National Action Plan (NAP) formulated in 2015 to crack down on terrorism and to supplement the ongoing anti-terrorist offensive in North-Western Pakistan was not implemented in its entirety. The second National Internal Security Policy (NISP) 2018-20123 has been hailed by analysts as a well- rounded policy built around ‘6Rs’ (reorient, reimagine, reconcile, redistribute, regional approach, and recognize) is based on collec­tively tackling, what Prof Ricardo Hausmann calls ‘binding constraints’ — the acutest problems that hold progress back. While counterterrorism, at best, ends violence; acceptance of diversity ensures sustainable peace. The new internal policy framework is aimed at securing the community from within, by exterminating religious fundamentalism and countering Pakistan’s negative image by image building and working on strengthening its external relations with its allies. Pakistan’s recent multi-lateral defense and trade agreements with other countries including Russia, China, Turkey and Bosnia, Romania, Sri Lanka, Kazakhstan and Norway are steps in the right direction for securing international alliances. Reliance on kinetic measures to intercept non-linear threats is no longer an option, and modern statecraft in the country must absolutely familiarize itself with unpredictable, incoming internal and external threats. Moreover, tackling internal pressure points, particularly ethnic sensitivities and civil rights issues for instance in the newly-integrated province of FATA or GB to prevent their misappropriation by external elements should be at the forefront of the current leadership’s agenda. Externally, absence of a broad base of independent scholars and scholarship has created intellectual gaps and India has been able to gain from the presence of its highly educated diaspora in Washington’s diplomatic circles. Pakistan’s perspective thus remains largely underrepresented. The policy of investing in people is now working as a force multiplier for India in international politics through effective utilization of Indian-Americans for furthering foreign policy objectives.  

Promotion of freedom of expression and investment in people then becomes an  urgent course of action for neutralizing the adversary’s hybrid war tactics. Often poisonous narratives against Pakistan go effectively unchallenged by academics. Development of quality human resource is necessary for effectively calibrating and disseminating Pakistan’s perspective in the international arena where competing narratives battle.

5GW is a reality and it is being effectively waged. It orchestrates resources to target and exploit internal vulnerabilities. This attack is combined with external pressures to undermine the economy, destabilize politically, isolate internationally and expose the states’ incapacity. The best and first response has to be the development of internal security, cohesion and economic viability. External pressure has to be countered aggressively.