Hybrid Warfare & CPEC

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Reema Shaukat

Carl von Clausewitz once said, “Every age has its own kind of war, its own limiting conditions and its own peculiar preconceptions.” Certainly, war is never considered a wise move in international relations but with the changing dynamics, we have seen how historically international scenarios have changed where there were world wars and later acquisition of nuclear technology by different states.

Though the aspects and threats of war keep on changing from tactical to strategic or otherwise but what recently new terminology circulating is the name of hybrid warfare. It was present since day one with the name of Psychological Warfare to pressurize an opponent in a desired way and it was observed during world wars also. But in recent times it is preferably referred as Hybrid or 5th Generation Warfare where tools and strategies are entirely different from armed conflict.

Experts consider hybrid warfare as an emerging, but ill-defined notion in conflict studies. It refers to the use of unconventional methods as part of a multi-dimensional war-fighting approach. These methods aim to disrupt and disable an opponent’s actions without engaging in open hostilities. Military strategists believe that it is very much clear now that the character of warfare is changing with more options for pursuing strategic ends just below the threshold of traditional armed conflict and some experts like to call it grey-zone tactics or hybrid warfare.

The concepts of “hybrid warfare” and the “grey zone” arguably are built on longstanding military strategies. However, what is relatively new is adversaries exploiting information technology vulnerabilities to achieve an outcome. Hybrid activities are aimed at manipulating public conscience and creating a virtual reality. Information medium used for such purpose is to make erroneous and mystified puzzling image, where traditional media like television screen is used as a tool for mass media and now with the advent of more social media tools it is used for fabrication of fake news.

In the case of prevalent regional scenario, talking about India-Pakistan relations, one can observe how such tools of psychological war are exercised by Indians to manipulate and sabotage Pakistan’s diplomatic achievements. One such example, which can be quoted clearly, is of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and to a larger extent about China’s Belt & Road Initiative, where Indian ambitions to damage this cause are an open secret now. But whatever they try sooner or later it is exposed and these enemies of Pakistan are recognized fully whether they are working covertly or overtly against Pakistan.

Likewise, Indian propaganda is also an old fashioned technique to malign Pakistan in any case. Indian conspiracy on Balochistan is not a new tale. Often Indians are found creating misleading statements about Balochistan. Pakistan has covered a long distance in achieving stability and peace in the country and hurly-burly by RAW by damaging infrastructure, killing innocent people or by creating any kind of unrest cannot deter Baloch people.

Recently, a massive operation to serve Indian interests by targeting international institutions, through a systematic disinformation campaign against Pakistan and China has been uncovered by an EU-based organisation. In a study, conducted by an information distribution organization, known as EU Disinfo Lab, an independent NGO mentioned how Indians Chronicles reveal its operations mission where its “objective is to discredit nations in conflict with India in Asia, in particular Pakistan but also China to a lesser extent.”

The operation was a follow up to a preliminary investigation published in 2019. According to reports this network is active in Brussels and Geneva in producing and amplifying content to undermine Pakistan. The operation codenamed “Indian Chronicles” revived dead media, dead think-tanks and NGOs and even dead people. The network is part of the sinister propaganda campaign, part of its Fifth Generation Hybrid Warfare-5GW against Pakistan with an objective to create chaos in the country.

According to the EU DisinfoLab, the Indian Chronicles has been a 15 year-long operation running since 2005 under which over ten UN Human Rights Council accredited NGOs were resurrected. The study discovered several identity thefts, over 750 fake media outlets, covering 119 countries; and over 550 domain names registered. The NGO-EU DisinfoLab focuses on researching and tackling sophisticated disinformation campaigns targeting the EU, its member states, core institutions and core values.

The operation began in 2005 and was still ongoing till it was exposed by an NGO. The report mentions long-term objectives of the plan included reinforcement of pro-Indian and anti-Pakistan, and anti-Chinese, feelings, within India. While internationally it aimed at consolidating power and improving the perception of India, to damage the reputation of other countries and ultimately benefit from more support from international institutions such as the EU and the UN.

According to the details provided by the EU DisinfoLab, last year, a network of 265 fake media in 65 countries reproducing negative content against Pakistan online was uncovered. The actors orchestrating Indian Chronicles are without any transparency check and directly involved in creating three informal groups in the European Parliament with the name of “South Asia Peace Forum”, the “Baloch Forum” and “Friends of Gilgit-Baltistan”.

They regularly hold press conferences and events within and in front of the European Parliament. The investigation revealed how the activities of a fake “zombie-NGO” and that of a fake specialised media can be repackaged, distorted and amplified by malicious actors to influence or misinform globally, using loopholes in international institutions and online search engines.

The core theme of the original NGO, ‘environment’ was hijacked by Indian Chronicles to undermine Pakistan in which it was influenced by saying, “Under CPEC our rivers are being diverted for hydropower projects and these projects are causing water shortage. The projects would forever destroy the ecology of our region. Scores of young men from Gilgit-Baltistan are serving 70-90 years of imprisonment for protesting against the plunder of our national resources.”

India while overshadowing human rights atrocities in IIOJ&K tried to target China by writing informal letters to various countries using fake platforms to malign China by abuse of human rights. For Pakistan, certainly unveiling of this Indian face by EU was not a surprise as Pakistan time and again has presented proofs to the international media and community about the Indian intentions to create chaos on its soil. However, this time these revelations by international platform show Pakistan’s truthfulness and serious efforts how it is tried to be manipulated by Indian agendas.

Fact is that since the initiation of CPEC and with Pakistan’s possibility of becoming an economic giant, India is trying to sabotage this multibillion-dollar project through its nefarious designs. Kulbhushan Jadhav confessional video is more than any proof of Indian frustration over CPEC. Nevertheless, it’s not just CPEC but seems that Pakistan’s fight against terrorism and exposing RAWs activities are quite disturbing for India and in the past it has also tried to create unrest and instability by creating melodrama on Balochistan separation.

Indian apprehensions on CPEC are quite visible from the information that during his one visit to China, Modi said to Chinese President Xi Jinping that CPEC is “unacceptable” for India. India opposed this project as it claims that Gilgit-Baltistan and Kashmir are part of India, not Pakistan and CPEC routes are therefore occupying Indian Territory. However both

China and Pakistan are committed to the implementation of the CPEC project and believe that it will benefit the entire region. Instead of forming gulley for others, the Indian government should focus on resolving the internal turmoil of Indian society which is declining day by day because of religious extremism, social discrimination and human rights violations. Rest assured, Pakistan knows it’s overt and covert foes!

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