The Turkish Secret Service, namely Milli Istihbarat Teşkilati (MIT), was founded by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in 1925. However, only in 1985 – in a phase of great transformation of Turkish domestic policy – the Service was given its current name, the National Intelligence Office, and was also placed under the Prime Minister’s leadership and political cover (which is fundamental, unlike what currently happens in Italy).
Since the 1950s – when Turkey’s role became essential – in NATO’s Eastern Flank, MIT has had very sound relations with CIA. Nevertheless, MIT has never had an effective and stable network of agents and collaborations with the European intelligence Services, while it has always had good relations with the Russian Agencies; obviously, after 1992, with Azerbaijan, and even with the Singapore Services, as well as with all the Middle East intelligence services.
Obviously one of MIT’s primary and institutional goals is the penetration/control of the Kurdish PKK, born from a “Maoist” organization based in Ankara, which – after the military coup in 1971 – reorganized itself into a Marxist-Leninist political party, which obviously had a military arm that became predominant after 1984, as well as a strictly political and semi-visible network.
Another MIT’s institutional target is Fethullah Gûlen’s organization, namely Hizmet.
A vast religious-political network which initially supported Erdogan’s party, the AKP, but then became its worst enemy.
Hizmet (the “Service”) is a community that had its origins in the cemaat, a traditional Sufi organization typical of Anatolia, but later – in the phase of the Turkish economic boom, born with the regime of Turgut Ozal, Prime Minister from 1983 to 1989, and then President of the Republic from 1989 to 1993, the year of his death – became a great network for business.
In that second phase, Hizmet became a solid economic power -although we must not forget its humanitarian role – and, according to some analysts, it later became a Parallel Yapi, a “parallel structure”.
The three tiers of Gûlen’s organization are sapiential and cultural at the highest levels, but they presuppose a precise and almost military organization at the lowest levels, operating in universities, newspapers, media and production structures.
An “Islamic Calvinism” – as it was defined – with the primary idea of making the dream of an all-pervasive and, above all, “political” Islam come true, albeit with charity and benevolence.
It is no coincidence that Gûlen’s movement is outlawed by the Gulf monarchies, by Pakistan and by the Organization of Islamic Cooperation, while the EU and the USA do not consider Hizmet a terrorist organization.
The tension between the AKP and Gûlen’s movement initially arose with the Gezi Park movement in June 2013, when Hizmet’s leader polemicized against the too heavy hand used by Erdogan’s government with students.
Later some investigators notoriously linked to Gûlen’s movement publicly accused the sons of some Ministers, without even sparing Erdogan.
The attempted coup in July 2016 led Erdogan to accuse Gûlen’s movement of having entirely organised and directed it.
That was not true, but it was the best idea to justify Erdogan’s scrapping of the Turkish Armed Forces and, previously, of the hidden network called Ergenekon.
Hakan Fidan, the Head of the Turkish intelligence Services, was completely involved in those designs of the AKP State and its President Erdogan, of whom he has always been a loyal, but intelligent executor, even though he had a rather complicated career in the intelligence Services: he was Head of MIT (and hence Undersecretary of State) from 2010 until 2015, but on February 7, 2015, he resigned to run for elections, obviously in the AKP ranks.
A month after the acceptance of his candidacy as parliamentarian, Hakan Fidan resigned again – this time at political level – and immediately returned to his previous post as Head of MIT.
He also participated – sometimes almost alone – in the very secret peace negotiations between the Turkish government and the Kurdish PKK, held in Oslo in 2009, but then Fidan organized above all the smuggling networks – not only the oil ones – between Iran and Turkey.
Hence the news -already public at the time – according to which Hakan Fidan met with Qassem Suleimani, the commander of the Al Quds Force of the Iranian Pasdaran, in Tehran in 2014.
The meeting took place in a parking, away from prying eyes and, above all, from any possible operative of the Turkish Embassy in the Iranian capital.
The meeting between the two Heads of their respective intelligence Services took place during Erdogan’s State visit to Iran at the end of January of that year.
Therefore various reliable sources stated that Hakan Fidan was in fact an asset, a source and hence an agent of influence of the Iranian intelligence Services in Turkey.
In that capacity, he allegedly met Soleimani to report to him confidential data on the Turkish Government and on Erdogan’s real intentions at the time, and, above all, during the war in Syria.
A great business for Turkey and, in any case, a phase in which the country redefined its geopolitical coordinates – successfully for the time being.
In fact, Hakan Fidan was also the subject of checks and investigations by the Turkish counter-espionage, especially at a time when it had discovered and exploited some operational intelligence networks in Turkey linked to the Pasdaran.
Hence Hakan Fidan’s double loyalty was verified: the specific intelligence unit of the Turkish Police was in fact able to record the transmissions and communications of the Al Quds Force, especially those of General Sayed Ali Akber Mir Vakili, who was heard by the Turkish CS for having received the recording of a confidential meeting of the Turkish Government directly from Hakan Fidan.
But, obviously any intelligence agent never says anything about his sources on the phone or by any other means.
What if Hakan Fidan was used also by his government to come to an agreement with Iran?
What if Hakan Fidan was really Erdogan’s instrument to arrive at a collaboration with Iran on Syria and, above all, in the framework of the Astana talks and of the future Iranian oil and gas networks towards the Mediterranean?
Certainly Vakili was well trained to avoid being identified or heard, but the Turkish police operatives had planted a bug in Mir Vakili’s car, driven by his trusted man, Hakki Selgiuk Sanli, a Turk with extensive criminal experience, who was also the key man in setting up the Turkish network of the Al Quds Force in the 1990s, under the orders of Iranian General Nasir Takipur.
Sanli was arrested on May 13, 2000 and sentenced to 12 years and 6 months of prison, due to his participation in a terrorist organization linked to Iran, which aimed at carrying out attacks against Turkish and American targets.
Sanli, however, was released in 2004, with an amnesty signed by Erdogan’s own government.
Finally, the recording from the bug in Mir Vakili’s car gave all the coordinates of Hakan Fidan’s passage of confidential information on Turkey to Iranians.
Mir Vakili, for example, told Sanli he had spoken with Hakan Fidan (codename “Emin”) and he had learned of a scandal that was mounting in Erdogan’s government at the very beginning of the Gezi Park protests.
Erdogan, in fact, immediately wanted to crack down hard on the Gezi Park revolt, while Deputy Prime Minister Bulent Arinç wanted to come to a negotiation with the occupiers.
Arinç, in fact – who was acting on behalf of Erdogan who was travelling to Africa – had already tried to reach an agreement with the insurgency leaders. Nevertheless, the President returned from his African tour and, after six hours of insults, he stopped Arinç’s attempts. However, it was Fidan himself who revealed to his Iranian contacts how Erdogan was particularly harsh on them too, of whom he suspected some heavy hand in the riots in Turkey at the time.
Mir Vakili and Hakan Fidan often saw each other in Turkey, especially in a well-known café in the centre of Ankara’s Ĉukurambar district, an area where there was a large amount of Islamists considered “radical” by Western banal standards.
Erdogan also thinks that Gűlen’s network has something to do with AKP’s growing distance from Islamism, which Westerners always foolishly define as “moderate”, which would lead to a rapid downsizing of that party and hence to the end of Erdogan’s power.
Inter alia, it is now ascertained that Hakan Fidan had already organized some meetings between Mir Vakili, Erdogan himself and the then Foreign Minister Ahmed Davutoglu, who developed his “zero problems with neighbours” policy.
And again, it was Hakan Fidan who provided security cover for Mir Vakili, when he came to Ankara with his family and some friends for shopping. Fidan even provided a State plane to the Pasdaran General, so that he and his friends could go back safely to Tehran.
In all likelihood, this shows that – in his relations with the Islamic Republic of Iran -Hakan Fidan has the government’s full support and, more importantly, President Erdogan’s personal support.
However, which is the origin of Hakan Fidan’s interest in Shiism, to which he probably belongs?
The Head of the Turkish intelligence Services studied Shiite tradition and symbolism especially when he was a very young volunteer non-commissioned officer in the Turkish forces.
It was at that moment that he was noticed by the Iranian Al Quds Force, a military structure dealing with special missions, intelligence and unconventional operations abroad.
Later it was Erdogan who studied him and then decided to appoint him, at first, as Director of the Agency for Support to Development (TIKA), then as Undersecretary of State and, in 2010, as MIT Director.
The lawsuit concerning the Head of the Al Quds Force in Turkey, Mir Vakili, for his relations with Hakan Fidan, was initiated when a criminal offence was reported by an anonymous person on August 8, 2010.
In fact, it was a 54-year-old woman, Kamile Yazicioglu, who had escaped from his partner, who informed the counterintelligence of the fact he had worked, for many years, for the Iranian intelligence and she brought to the police’s attention documents that proved it.
She repeated her testimony in the appropriate fora, in sittings dating back to March and April 2011.
This led to the beginning of a careful, three-yearly analysis of Ms. Yazicioglu’s partner by Turkish counterintelligence.
The casewas coded 2011/762 by Turkey’s bureaucracy.
It turned out, almost immediately, that Ms. Yazicioglu’s partner was in direct contact with Hakan Fidan.
Furthermore, the lady’s partner had had problems with the police because he had taken part in the “Night for Jerusalem”, an anti-Zionist demonstration in favour of the application of Koranic law in Turkey – a street movement that had taken place in Ankara, Sincan district, at the end of January 1997.
On that occasion, there was a fiery speech by the Iranian Ambassador to Turkey.
Yazicioglu was also responsible for education and culture in the Sincan district. He organized a Shiite religious event, which was one of the reasons why the Armed Forces “closed down” the government in 1997, thus putting an end to it.
In fact, the Turkish military structures sent some tanks to show Sincan to what extent the Islamist initiative had been disliked by the Turkish Armed Forces’ leadership.
In that case, Yazicioglu was sentenced to over three years of prison for having supported a terrorist organization.
After his release, he moved to Istanbul, where he was not noticed until 2008, when he was reactivated by the Iranian intelligence.
Moreover, Yazicioglu had maintained excellent relations with the murderers of the journalist, Ugur Mumcu, and of the university Professor, Muammer Aksoy.
The fact is that, according to many testimonies, Hakan Fidan remained in close contact with the Iranians’ informant and met him several times.
Both Fidan’s son and Yazicioglu’s son were enrolled at the Bilkent University of Ankara, and they were used as channels of communication between the two.
Yazicioglu’s partner always proclaimed she had always had close relations with MIT, and in any case she had several passports hidden in her house, as well as copies of reports written by her husband for the Iranian intelligence Services.
The primary task entrusted to her husband and her son by Iran was to supervise the Nuclear Research and Training Centre in Čekmece, Istanbul, probably sitting in a car to report remarkable data on a map, possibly with some explanatory notes.
The Turkish operative had also drawn the escape routes and the confidential entrances of that Nuclear Research and Training Centre – a sign that he knew it well and from inside.
A job as labourer of the intelligence Services, however, which certainly did not allow to have access to the top managers, as it happened to Yazicioglu with Hakan Fidan.
Ms. Yazigioclu also stated before the Turkish CS that her former husband had satellite photos of the US Consulate in Istanbul and of the Israeli one.
Never underestimate an angry wife. The files found in Yazicioglu’s house also concerned confidential military maps of the Adana and Gaziantep provinces – now very important for the issue of migrants from Syria – and a series of personal files of public figures, including those of some government members as well as senior leaders of the ruling party, the AKP.
Another document found at Yazicioglu’s house – again thanks to Ms. Yazicioglu’s help – concerned the names of young Turks included in some terrorist organizations linked to the Pasdaran, especially young people who expressed strongly anti-American and anti-Semitic views.
The documents seized also concerned the methods of reporting and meeting with the Iranian agents, as well as a video of the Turkish police showing a meeting between Yazicioglu and the current Head of the al Quds Forcein Turkey, Naser Ghafari, who had the cover of political attaché at the Consulate General of Iran to Ankara.
In May 2019, however, also Bashar el Assad revealed he had direct contacts with Hakan Fidan in Tehran, but also on the Kassab border, where the Syrian leader expressed his willingness to meet Erdogan as soon as possible.
In an interview with the Turkish journalist Mehmet Yuva, Assad stated he wanted to cooperate with Turkey, and also maintained that Syria did not deal with Turkey only indirectly – through Russia or Iran – but also through direct meetings in various external fora.
Moreover, Erdogan knows very well the U.S. “federal case” regarding an Iranian executive called Reza Zarrab, who had been operating for years to avoid or manipulate U.S. sanctions against his country.
Zarrab bribed many Turkish Ministers and officials, including some members of Erdogan’s family.
Probably, the mechanism put in place by Zerrab provided Erdogan’s family with vast wealth, in addition to other sources of income.
As noted above, it was precisely Mir Vakili who informed us – through Zerrab – that there were problems with the Turkish State bank, Halkbank, and made us read about the relations between Zerrab and the then Turkish Economy Minister, Zefer Caglayan.
The Minister himself enabled Zerrab to move the funds for foreign operations without any problems, promising the Halkbank executives substantial commissions on transfers.
Mir Vakili also informed – per tabulas- of the fact that there was another Iranian operative behind Zerrab’s operations.
As proven by documents, after the appointment of Hakan Fidan as Head of MIT, Erdogan himself met the Head of the Iranian network in Turkey – who, at the time, was again Mir Vakili – to discuss the Iranian oil operations through Turkey and to proceed to a possible alliance between Iran – that Erdogan has often called his “second home” – and the Turkish commercial and political elites.
The role of maritime power
The maritime environment is both a means of transport and a resource. The first aspect is obviously expressed through what is transported by ship: containers, oil, minerals, many objects and many resources of our daily life have passed through the sea before we use them. Data also crosses the sea, since submarine cables are the heart of the Internet, constituting the “real” face of the “virtual” world. For the second aspect, that of resources, it is either food, with mainly fishing, energy, fossil with oil and gas, or renewable with wind turbines and tide turbines, or minerals, starting from sand, whose exploitation is little known, but essential for many activities including construction.
It was from the fifteenth century, which corresponded to the beginning of the great discoveries, that the control of the seas became an important topic. At that time, the British Sir Walter Raleigh theorized its importance: “Whoever owns the sea holds the trade of the world; whoever holds the trade holds the wealth; whoever holds the wealth of the world owns the world itself ”. Gradually, the United Kingdom becomes the maritime superpower par excellence, supplanting a Spain and Portugal soon exhausted by the colonization of a South America too big for them and unable to compete with a France that is too terrestrial. At the end of the 19th century, Britain controlled major sea routes and her empire was vast, with the great outdoors of Australia and Canada and the British Indies.
But the entry into the twentieth century coincided with the arrival of a new actor in the oceans, the United States. The theorist in charge here is Alfred Mahan, who has updated Raleigh’s theory by specifying that control of the sea passes through that of sea routes and that in this matter everything is played at the level of the straits. The pivotal year in this sense is undoubtedly 1914: it corresponds to the inauguration of the Panama Canal, a maritime passage controlled by Uncle Sam, but also to the beginning of the First World War, which at the same time weakens the United Kingdom, due to of the energy spent in the conflict that does not compensate for territorial gains in Africa, the Middle East and the Pacific. The turning point that completes the transformation of the United States into the great maritime power of the second half of the 20th century is World War II. Europeans, including those belonging to the victorious camp, are too weakened to maintain their historical prerogatives, especially when colonial empires become complicated to maintain for political as well as demographic reasons.
The United States emerged from the war with a colossal military and merchant fleet (thanks, among other things, to the Liberty ships), and was able to reconstitute those of its new allies in the Western camp. Moreover, this aid does not prevent the Americans from making their own interests prevail over those of their allies, as with the Suez crisis where they countered the Franco-British intervention that had militarily managed to regain control of this strategic channel with diplomatic means. This domination of the seas was hardly contested by the Russians, reduced to an asymmetrical confrontation, symbolized by submarines. It is important to stress that Russia does not have direct access to the oceans, a resource of the United States.
In 1990, the Soviet Union collapsed, but a phantom threat already hovered over the almighty awakening of America, that of China. Under the impact of Deng Xiao Ping’s reforms, its economy was starting to become competitive and the country was using its huge pool of cheap labor to become “the factory of the world”. This economy is export-oriented and generates colossal shipping traffic, to which the Dragon is adding its touch: rapidly, Chinese shipping companies and shipbuilding are becoming key players in their respective sectors. From a military point of view, the Middle Kingdom had an almost insignificant navy in the late 1980s, but today it is second in the world behind the United States, even if the latter maintain a good advantage.
On land, the Chinese strategy consists first of all in controlling the space contained within a first chain of islands corresponding to the East China Sea and the South China Sea, even if in the latter it means not respecting the rights of other coastal states. or even intimidate Taiwan, the “rebel province”. The next step is to dominate the space within a second chain of islands located further offshore, which would put China in direct contact with US possessions, with the risk of confrontation that this entails. The so-called “pearl necklace” strategy, consisting in the development of Chinese infrastructures in the Indian Ocean, also connects the Middle Kingdom with another competitor, India, which wishes to assert its rights in this space that India considers its courtyard. Finally, China inaugurated its first overseas naval base in Djibouti in 2018, and others may follow in the years to come, such as Walvis Bay in Namibia. This expansion solidifies China’s rank as a world power, while Russia has lost most of its network of naval bases around the world with the collapse of the USSR.
The power of the sea is composite, made up of elements that multiply each other more than they add up. The first of these is access to the sea, without which nothing is possible. Therefore, the United Kingdom, an island country, is naturally predisposed to the projection of maritime power. The United States, bordered by two large maritime spaces, is also favored. For Russia, things are less obvious, as for China; in fact, the goal of the pearl necklace strategy is both to allow access to the sea from peripheral regions such as Xinjiang and to control sea routes. Moreover, in its time, Russia had tried to develop its access to the sea with “the race for warm seas”.
Once you have mastered access to the sea, it is necessary to be able to move, thanks to the sea routes and more particularly to the strategic passages. Today, the Americans retain control of it, although the Middle Kingdom tries to weave its web. For example, instead of wanting to get its hands on the Panama Canal, China is supporting a competing canal project in Nicaragua, even if the latter is stopped for the moment. Traffic also requires a merchant fleet, and China is among the champions of shipping and also shipbuilding, where Americans are largely left behind, held back by a protectionist Jones Act that maintains a significant merchant fleet, but marginalized in the globalization.
In general, where terrestrial space is largely controlled by our human societies, the sea escapes this phenomenon much more, to the point that it is still a space to be conquered in many ways. The polar regions, especially the icy Arctic Ocean, but also the seas surrounding the Antarctic continent, constitute a new frontier for humans. The seabed and its mineral resources are also often less known than terrestrial space.
Finally, one last consideration: the Italy – with the exception of the maritime republics – has not been able to exploit its projection of maritime power. And this is one of the reasons, certainly not the only one, that has prevented – and prevents – Italy from having a credible, authoritative foreign policy and above all capable of stopping Turkish hegemonic ambitions.
Indian Chronicle: Exposing the Indian Hybrid warfare against Pakistan
In recent years Indian hybrid warfare against Pakistan has intensified manifold to malign Pakistan Internationally through disinformation and propaganda tactics. Hybrid warfare has mainly been described as achieving war-like objectives with the help of fake news, disinformation, and propaganda. The Objectives of Hybrid warfare are mostly to secure long term victory against the opponent. Similarly, India has launched massive hybrid warfare against Pakistan, which was uncovered by EU DisinfoLab in its report called “Indian Chronicle”.
EU DisinfoLab is an independent organization working to expose and tackle disinformation campaigns targeting the European Union and its member states. The organization has claimed that the disinformation campaign against Pakistan has been active since 2005, “a massive online and offline 15-year ongoing influence operation supporting Indian interests and discrediting Pakistan internationally”.
In a recent investigation EU DisinfoLab has exposed a malicious Indian campaign against Pakistan. In the report, “Indian Chronicle” EU DisinfoLab has exposed the dubious use of media outlets, NGOs, and fake personnel by India to malign Pakistan. The disinformation campaign mainly targeted the United Nations and the European Union through more than 750 fake media outlets and 10 fake NGOs. According to the report, “uncovered an entire network of coordinated UN-accredited NGOs promoting Indian interests and criticizing Pakistan repeatedly. We could tie at least 10 of them directly to the Srivastava family, with several other dubious NGOs pushing the same messages.”
According to the report the disinformation campaign is supported by the Srivastava group. The Srivastava group has helped in “resurrected dead NGOs” to spread fake news. The report says that “Our investigation led to the finding of 10 UN-accredited NGOs directly controlled by the Srivastava Group, which our full report introduces at length. Their common trait? The fact that they all rose from the ashes of real NGOs. Indian Chronicles effectively benefited from the track record of these organizations while pursuing their agenda: discrediting Pakistan and promoting Indian interests at UN conferences and hearings,”.
Moreover, Asian News International (ANI), a major news agency in India has provided a platform for suck fake news campaigns. The aim of the Srivastava group and ANI media outlet is “to reinforce pro-Indian and anti-Pakistan (and anti-Chinese) feelings” in India, and “internationally, to consolidate the power and improve 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”.
The report claim that the organizations funded by the Srivastava group-sponsored trips for European Parliament members to Kashmir. “The organizations created by the Srivastava Group in Brussels organized trips for Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) to Kashmir, Bangladesh, and the Maldives. Some of these trips led to much institutional controversy, as the delegations of MEPs were often presented as official EU delegations when they were in fact not traveling on behalf of the Parliament,”. Such sponsored trips aimed to build a positive image of India, while spreading disinformation about the alleged claims of Pakistan-sponsored terrorism in Kashmir.
Moreover, India has been actively involved in portraying Pakistan as a terrorist-sponsored state through its disinformation and fake news technique. For instance, India is lobbying strongly at FATF to put Pakistan on the blacklist.
India has also supported and sponsored Baloch separatist leaders and spread disinformation through their fake media outlets as mentioned in the EU DisinfoLab report.“These UN-accredited NGOs work in coordination with non-accredited think-tanks and minority-rights NGOs in Brussels and Geneva. Several of them – like the European Organization for Pakistani Minorities (EOPM), Baluchistan House, and the South Asia Democratic Forum (SADF) – were directly but opaquely created by the Srivastava group,”one of the examples is Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian spy who was captured in Pakistan.
The Indian Chronicle report has exposed the dubious face of India and the administrative structure of the United Nations and the European Union. Indian involvement in the spread of disinformation and resurrection of dead people and NGOs has exposed its long-standing for Human rights and democracy. Meanwhile, the reports have also exposed the administrative structure of the UN and EU, as they failed to notice the activities of fake UN-accredited NGOs and spread of disinformation through their affiliated NGOs.
Hybrid Warfare: Threats to Pakistani Security
‘Victory smiles upon those who anticipate the changes in the character of war’-Giulio Douhet
Hybrid threats are becoming a norm in Pakistan and if we want to move forward in this age of technological advancements, cybercrimes, and the use of social media, we must have a wholesome response mechanism.
Hybrid warfare is a military strategy that employs not only conventional forms of warfare but irregular with it as well. It involves propaganda, cyber-attacks, state-sponsored terrorism, electoral intervention, and many more means of multi-dimensional approaches towards war which are used by militarized non-state actors. The term ‘Hybrid’ came into use around 2005-2006 due to the Israel-Hezbollah war (“Lessons from Lebanon: Hezbollah and Hybrid Wars – Foreign Policy Research Institute” 2016) and became a hot-topic in 2014 after the annexation of Crimea. Using non-confrontational means can lead to internal struggles and crumbling of the target. What direct force won’t get you can be easily achieved by infiltration and multi-faceted resources. It’s neither character of war nor its outcome that defines it as a hybrid war, but the changing tactics (“State and Non-State Hybrid Warfare” 2018). In a world where everyone, from wealthy states to those caught in throes of hunger, is armed to the teeth, there are ways to achieve socio-political objectives through the use of violent and non-violent non-state actors.
Pakistan – A Target
Pakistan has risen to incredible heights despite it being a relatively young nation and this is only proved further by the interest international players have in its internal workings. Several factors contribute to the important stature Pakistan holds in the international community such as the Pak-China alliance, its geostrategic location, military aptitude, Russian interests in the Indian Ocean, Deep Sea Gwadar Port (One Belt One Road Project), neighbor to Afghanistan (a country existing as a battleground for proxies), etc. All these reasons make sure to keep Pakistan on the radar.
Though it may be secure militarily, Pakistan is still vulnerable to hybrid threats due to internal dynamics, numerous conflicting interests of nations in state-affairs, and increasing non-state actors. South Asian nuclearization has all but guaranteed that a full-fledged war between Pakistan and India is unlikely therefore the latter uses hybrid warfare to weaken Pakistan from within.
Evolutionary Nature of War
There was truth to Heraclites’s words when he claimed that change is the only constant in our world. The social theory of evolutionary change tells us that individuals, communities, societies, and states are always in a state of motion, continuously evolving according to the era. War is born from man, it is only fair that if a man changes, so shall war. It has become more complex; the stakes have raised from territorial boundaries to the maintenance of world order and preservation of state sovereignty. Wars are no longer fought on the borders, skirmishes aside, the real destruction takes place within. Due to the paradigm shift after the Cold War (Ball 2018), there rose a need for legal, economical, socio-political, and informational means of warfare. It is used as a way to undermine other nation-states in pursuit of national power; the international system is not only a race but also a way to tear others down.
Threats to Pakistani Security
To secure Pakistan from all sides, we must first analyze the threats it faces from all sides. Conventional Warfare used to be seen as one dimensional and it only perceived assault to be done through the land, air, or sea channels. However, now it is fought in various intangible zones.
India is a budding regional hegemon due to its political and economic growth including hidden agendas. Pakistan is perceived to be a direct threat to India especially after the launch of the CPEC project, perceived to be undermining its hold over the region, which is why it is employing stratagems of hybrid warfare to internally weaken Pakistan. Till now India has used State-Sponsored terrorism, funded insurgencies, operated terror cells, and even sent fighter jets into Pakistani Airspace as an attempt to ruin its reputation in the international community.
There has been growing instability in Afghanistan which has led to mass migrations across the porous border into Pakistan, with around 1.4 million registered Afghans (United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees 2018) and 1 million unregistered (“Amnesty International” 2019). India has its claws in Afghan matters as well and will use it to exploit Pakistan’s weaknesses even after US forces leave the arena. Afghan Government’s poor administrative capability especially after the return of DAESH (Tribune 2020) and Tehrik-e-Taliban Afghanistan are threats to Pakistan as well as regional peace and are a major cause of lawlessness in the country and has a spillover effect for its neighbors.
Ideologically speaking, Iran is a sectarian threat to Pakistan and its Port Chahbahar stands to lose active traffic once CPEC is fully functional which means it stands as an instigator of hybrid warfare and it would be a risk to overlook it based on past good relations.
Even after the Cold War, strategic rivalry and animosity between the powers including Russia, America, and China still exist. The emergence of China as an economic superpower is perceived as a threat to the US due to which there is a major shift in its defensive posture towards the region.
The US has shown significant interest in Pakistan due to its geo-strategic location but not all interest has yielded positive results. They carried out a surgical strike for the capture and assassination of Osama-Bin-Laden. Such a breach of sovereignty and security is a hybrid threat.
There are several lobbies in Pakistan all vying for their own cause. The Iranian lobby has sectarian undercurrents. Sectarianism has always been one of the leading factors of the divide in the Muslim civilization and is the rising trend of terrorism.Such conflict itself is volatile and is deepening the rift between different sects(Shia-Sunni) of Pakistan, causing unrest.
Rising prices of commodities such as flour and sugar can lead to social unrest and discord. Such industries and their stocks are under the thumb of a select few, the elites. With the right bribes and conditions, even they would agree to sell out society.
Non-state actors are groups or organizations that have influence in the state but work independently and have their socio-political agendas (“Towards a Typology of Non-State Actors in ‘Hybrid Warfare’: Proxy, Auxiliary, Surrogate and Affiliated Forces” 2019). They work on political opportunities and mobilized grievances. Groups like BLA (Balochistan Liberation Army), TTP (Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan), and Lashkar-e-Taiba (LeT) are some of the major actors. Pakistan needs to focus on curbing Jihadist Terrorism as it is keeping it from leaving the grey list of FATF.
It refers to the spread of miscommunication. Propaganda and circulation of false news through social media are a relatively common way to cause turmoil in a community. Once a rumor is circling, there is no way to erase it. India claims that Pakistan is spreading the false narrative of ‘Islam being in danger’ to justify its actions, although untrue, is something that the Indians fully believe now. That Pakistani Intelligentsia is made solely to create narratives under which to attack India. Such beliefs further antagonize the states against each other.
Indian Chronicles are a prime example of information warfare being waged against Pakistan.
Channels such as Cyber-Jihad and Dark Web come under the purview of cyber warfare and are a threat to the fabric of society and its security in Pakistan.
Given the above discussed bleak prevailing internal security situation, Pakistan needs to formulate a short to mid and long-term response that curbs all external and internal parties alongside proxies from infiltrating and influencing the working of the state and affecting the masses.
For a full-spectrum approach, all domains should be covered such as diplomacy, defense, internal and external security, economic, informational, cyber, and media security.
There are steps to be followed through for active and effective quelling of hybrid threats. First, a strategy must be put for, then tactical action should be taken and lastly, the implementation process should be supervised and fully followed through.
The main focus of the state should be on deterrence towards, protection from, and prevention of hybrid threats to the state.
One must not forget that Hybrid war is a mix of both unconventional and conventional warfare, therefore a nation-wide response should include the intertwined operational capabilities of armed forces alongside political actors. Pakistan sees its security being threatened both by internal factors and external hostile/proxy elements. This is hampering state development. State-building and nation-building must go hand in hand if counter and deter such threats effectively.
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