Since ancient times, security has been one of the most important concerns of humans. Humans have always felt insecure due to either wild animals or tribes who would come at night and assault them to loot their animals, women, and children. Today, after ages, human is still not secure. Potent armies and nuclear weapons did provide some sense of security in terms of consolidating physical boundaries, but technology has also changed the entire shape of warfare. Proxy wars and hybrid threats are the terms of modern times. One thing that can be said that the prosperity and the development of a nation in today’s world is conditional to its ability to counter hybrid threats.
Hybrid warfare is one of the most talked about type of warfare in current time. It is also known as “Grey Zone conflict” or “low intensity conflict”. Hybrid warfare is the way to achieve the objectives or interests without using force. It is the combination of regular forces, irregular forces, proxy wars, criminal networks, terrorist activities, political organization, and insurgent groups to carry out the blend of traditional and non-traditional act of war. It is supported by political pressure, economic pressure, information influence and cyber operations.
Hybrid warfare is surrounded by the public opinion. It is basically not to defeat the enemy or adversary, but it is meant to demoralize the enemy. In fact, it is a way to achieve objectives without fighting. It was emerged in the early period of the 21st century. It has been used in context of non-state actors since many years.Labelling warfare as hybrid warfare does not change the core objectives of war. Its goal is to exploit the threat or use organized form of violence in your advantage to gain victory over an opponent. Instruments that were used in a warfare will not be going to be used in a hybrid warfare which complicates the problem. Regardless of how the threat is labelled, strategists must decide how best to address the methods employed by their adversaries, whether state or non-state actors. Usually, the best strategies involve the coordination and direction of all the effective instruments of state power, no matter how the world will define the threat.
South Asia was faced with a hybrid challenge long before Western theorists coined the term. The LTTE is, in many ways, an early example of hybrid threat; it had state-like military capability by having an army, navy, and air force; it tried to use illegal organisations to help support the guerrilla movement; it also had a complex media network around the globe. It took decades for the Sri Lankan government to transform its own fighting strategy into a hybrid one as well, before the LTTE could be defeated.
Dr. Ashfaque Hasan khan (Dean of social sciences at NUST, Islamabad) said that the pace of hybrid warfare has become rapid since the last four to five years. Furthermore, the people of Pakistan has not yet realized about this warfare because this warfare has the beauty of deception and misinformation.Pakistan is facing the economic pressure and political instabilities; both are the big influencing instrument of hybrid warfare. The kind of impact that this war imply depends on the strength of the aggressor. Pakistan has on several occasions given ample information to the Indian authorities of Indian clandestine funding for a variety of terrorist activities. Former United States Secretary of Defense, Chuck Hagel, has also suggested that India is using Afghan soil to fund Pakistan’s problems.These Indian infiltrations in Pakistan are a prominent feature of hybrid warfare as Webster G. Tarpley, a prominent US based analyst revealed that “the chosen strategy is to massively export the Afghan civil war into Pakistan and beyond, fracturing Pakistan along ethnic lines.”
At the external stage, the 2001 bombing on the Indian Parliament, Mumbai mayhem in 2008, the 2016 attack at Pathankot and the 2019 Pulwama incident were all blamed on Pakistan in a strongly clear and immediate way, although these allegations were mainly based on circumstantial facts.This narrative was further strengthened by the political power of India around the world to mark Pakistan as a state that supports terrorism and to portray itself as its target as part of its own hybrid war policy.As a result, Pakistan is being forced to fight this hybrid warfare by better preparedness and a coordinated policy, as this ‘new normal’ continues to challenge Pakistan’s national security.Pakistan is being forced into this warfare as this is clear as how Kulbhushan Jadhav, a serving Indian military officer, was accused of treason within Pakistan and caught supportingterrorism in Baluchistan. In addition, the Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA), a militant organisation known for decades to be supported by India, was also allegedly involved in an attack on the Chinese Consulate in Karachi back in November 2018.Maj Gen Babar Iftikhar, the chief of the military’s media wing stated that India is engaged in a ‘fifth generation warfare’ and trying to block Pakistan’s path to development, primarily by targeting the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and trying to deform the Pakistan’s image in front of International arena. He also stated, “Unfortunately, it’s a major onslaught, it’s a major part of the fifth-generation warfare. Pakistan is being subjected to […] hybrid applications in a massive way and we are aware of that.” In response to India’s Hybrid warfare, Pakistan submitted a dossier and try to bring attention of the whole world on Indian-state sponsored terrorism in Pakistan.
Keeping in view the vastness of the hybrid threats no army alone has the wherewithal to counter them. In most cases states find themselves short of capacity to counter such threats. Since anything and everything comes under the ambit of hybrid threats either directly or indirectly, countering them is only possible through a national resolve and commitment. This resolve and commitment must be reflected in every aspect of life of its citizens.Carl von Clausewitz, a Prussian general and military theorist stated, “Every age has its own kind of war, its own limiting conditions, and its own peculiar preconceptions” and this is the age of Hybrid warfare.