Combating 5th Generation Warfare

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Dr Muhammad Khan

A realistic analysis of the contemporary situation Pakistan would reveal that it is under the strong grip of 5th Generation Warfare. There has been sudden rise of such elements that have chall enged the very stability of the state internally and enhanced its vulnerability externally through their undesired acts. As defined by various scholars of security studies, 5th generation warfare is a new advancement in the field of conflicts in which non-state actors wage a war against the state (s) “out of sheer frustration without clear political objectives.” A dominant class of security strategists believe that primary motivations of 5th Generation Warfare are; deprivation and frustration. As per US military, it is most likely to be prosecuted in the “enclaves of deprivation”. Most of the western security experts believe that 5th Generation Warfare is neither driven by material objectives nor have ideological reasons behind it. Nevertheless, it is debatable whether it is really out of these domains.
Indeed, deprivation and frustrations are always exploited by the interest groups and vested power centres. Frustrated and deprived classes need dedicated support to exhibit their anxiety and further them to thenext phase. Therefore, there are always political and ideological reasons behind these, unlike the western perception of 5th Generation Warfare. In fact, globally there is a drastic change in the form and format of warfare. The format of direct war has been changed in which there used to be usage of massive military power right from the outset. Through 5th Generation Warfare, the hybrid warfare and that of non-kinetic warfare, the international rival power centres pave the way for their intervention and imperialism through domestic unrest, chaos and infighting. Indeed, a favourable environment is created in rival state(s), as a starting point for their exploitation. This all is done to avoid the international condemnation, the UN restraints and above all implementation of their agendas through coverts means.
In Pakistan, the deprived and frustrated groups have existed ever since the creation of Pakistan. The first exploitation of these classes by external power centres appeared in the form of unrest in the former East Pakistan which ultimately resulted into disintegration of Pakistan in 1971 with Bangladesh becoming a new state. In the last two decades, the armed forces of Pakistan have fought a long war against various terrorists and militant groups and those promoted sub-nationalism with a great success. The unbelievable rate of success against terrorism, achieved by armed forces of Pakistan has placed this outfit unparalleled among the global military outfits on one hand and target of rival power centres on the other hand. Through their professionalism and dedication, armed forces of Pakistan achieved what other military outfits of the world would not have dreamt of.
In the aftermath of these unprecedented successes, the global power centres appreciated the armed forces of Pakistan on one hand while started devising strategies to slowly and gradually undermine their professionalism and dedication on the other. In a way, the armed forces of Pakistan, especially Pak Army is the target of global power centres. All efforts are centred on to create a misconstrued perception about this institution in the eyes of general masses and the intelligentsia of Pakistan. For the first time in the history of Pakistan, the extension of the Army Chief was made an issue, where the Supreme Court of Pakistan had to intervene. This entire move was a well-orchestrated strategy by those who complicated the process while being part of the Imran Khan Government. It was an indirect attack on the institution of Army, which requires a thorough probe. Since military is the sole institution which binds Pakistani nation together, therefore, weakening this institution means, enhancing the vulnerability of Pakistan in front of its rival forces, they waited for decades.
Students Solidarity Campaign is yet another area, leading towards domestic unrest and instability. Restoration of student unions is one aspect; however, the on-going student solidarity campaign is a step towards different direction. Some of the political and religious organizations alongside the media groups are behind this campaign for their vested interest. In the event of restoration of students unions, let there be academic orientation of the students associated with the unions, rather using these outfits and the unions for the political activities and other undesired acts. Besides, let’s not misdirect the youth of Pakistan from their basic orientation; the academic pursuit for the greater goals of research, innovation, development and progress.
The students and student unions must be made as vehicle for their progress and for the development of Pakistan rather using them as tool of political and religious forces, some of whom may have their external linkages. This is the most vulnerable area; the Government must pay attention on a war footing. The deprivation of students and vulnerabilityof deprived groups and communities must be addressed before they are exploited to become tools of undesired domestic and global power centres.
Through a combination 5th generation warfare, the hybrid warfare and the non-kinetic warfare, the rival power centres are trying to destabilize Pakistan internally. Any internal destabilization would pave way for the external intrusion into the affairs of the state. Therefore, let’s formulate strategies to combat these nefarious forms of warfare against the state and society of Pakistan by rival power centres.
— The writer, Brigadier (retired) is Professor of Politics and International Relations at International Islamic University, Islamabad.