Muhammad Adil Sivia
Exploitation of domestic fault lines like political, economic and societal is the main target of hybrid warfare. The incremental approach that is followed in hybrid warfare is designed to gut a state from within. Hybrid warfare is very much relevant to Pakistan. In fact, the state and society of Pakistan is already fighting hybrid warfare launched by India for destabilizing Pakistan. The adversary is targeting Pakistan from within through extremists and terrorists as proxies for thousands cuts strategy.
Through hybrid warfare, strategic objective that adversary is trying is achieve is not annihilation of Pakistan as state but making her so weak that Pakistan accepts Indian bid of supremacy in South Asia and compromises her vital interests and accepts resolution of outstanding disputes on Indian terms. Recent unearthing of spying network after Kulbhushan Yadav was captured by intelligence agencies of Pakistan show that there has been shift of tactics from India. After the overt nuclearisation of Pakistan, any conventional war adventure will be too costly for India. Fighting hybrid war against Pakistan under the rubric of nuclear weapons has become preferred strategy by India.
Sun Tzu a Chinese strategist and philosopher said, “War is a moral contest, they are won in temples long before they are ever fought”. The task fighting and effectively winning wars of narratives in the court of world opinion cannot be accomplished by diplomatic corps alone. In post-truth era where objective facts are less influential in shaping opinion compared with repetitive assertion of certain agenda points, foreign policy has become battlefield of competing narratives. Selling Pakistan’s view abroad has become increasingly difficult because of absence of effective intellectuals for disseminating Pakistan’s rationale of policies adopted. Information domain has become extremely important for effectively disseminating the narrative of the country to both domestic and foreign audiences.
The questions about Pakistan’s commitment to fighting extremism and terrorism often go unanswered in academic circles. Though US officials accept the safety mechanisms that Pakistan has put in place for protection of nuclear installations, questions raised by academics about safety of such installation and anti-proliferation mechanism are not effectively counter through academic arguments.
Pakistan due to deliberate policies adopted by ruling elite both civilian and military for furthering their rule has become a regressive society where alternative perspective or dissent is discouraged and often dissenters are silenced through threats or actual use of violence. In Pakistan, the culture of narrative management and manipulation strategy by certain state institutions has created intellectual void.
Absence of broad base of independent scholars and scholarship has created intellectual gap. Adversary is effectively utilizing the dearth of capable human resource in information domain hence Pakistan’s perspective is highly underrepresented. Pakistan’s adversary on one hand is exploiting the ideological and social differences among Pakistan’s society and on other hand is constructing alternative narratives about Pakistan’s state and security institutions for effectively harming Pakistan’s view abroad.
The presence of educated Indian Diaspora especially engaged in policy influencing institutions in Capitol Hill gives India a structured cost effective tool for favourable disposition. The policy of investing in people is now working as force multiplier for India in international politics through effective utilization of Indian-Americans for furthering foreign policy objectives. 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 reflection of US power exploited by India through sustained campaign.
Promotion of freedom of expression and investment in people becomes the urgent course of action for neutralizing the adversary’s hybrid war tactics used against Pakistan. Often poisonous narrative against Pakistan goes effectively unchallenged by academics in Pakistan that narrative informs the opinion of policy makers especially in the West. Development of quality human resource is necessary for effectively calibrating and disseminating Pakistan’s perspective in international arena where competing narratives battle.
—The writer is Research Associate at Strategic Vision Institute, a think-tank based in Islamabad.