South Asia Needs Hybrid Peace – Book Review

Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s vision of ‘Peace within and peace without’ is the inspiration of the author behind writing this book.

The author of this book is an expert in Strategic Studies, focusing particularly on the dynamics of South Asia. He has authored many research articles including Deterrence and Diplomacy: Investigating India’s Motives Behind Conflict Deferment and Pakistan’s Endeavors at Conflict Resolution(2022), Hybrid Warfare and its Nuances: A Case-Study from South Asia(2022), and books like Nuclear Deterrence and Conflict Management Between India and Pakistan(2020) and Understanding Sun Tzu and the Art of Hybrid War(2023).

Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s vision of ‘Peace within and peace without’ is the inspiration of the author behind writing this book. In the contemporary era, ‘Hybrid War’ has become a buzzword, but there’s a dire need to understand the strategic significance of ‘Hybrid Peace’. The book has explored various dimensions of establishing hybrid peace in Southern Asia. The author has presented three core measures; Productive Engagement, Conflict Resolution and Revitalization of Regional Organizations (SAARC) to establish enduring peace in densely populated South Asia.

Zia Ul Haque Shamsi, South Asia Needs Hybrid Peace (New York: Peter Lang Publishing Group, 2021)

Hybrid warfare is a combination of political, conventional, cyber and irregular warfare. The hybrid war served as an impediment for people, government and institutions of state. In the context of South Asia; this densely populated, culturally diverse region is behind several countries in the Human Development Index(HDI). Productive engagement through trade and connectivity projects like CPEC could become a potential source to introduce the concept of hybrid Peace in the region. An effective conflict resolution mechanism between the two nuclear power neighbouring countries would be the only pathway for the progress and development of the region. Pakistan and India failed to resolve the Siachen Dispute, Sir Creek and Kashmir. The Kashmir Issue is the product of British Colonial rule in the sub-continent which is the most dangerous, deadly and costly of all prevailing disputes among the two nuclear weapons states. Trade can play a productive role in establishing ties between the two standing adversaries. The author has proposed three ways to achieve this goal. The first one prioritises formal trade through official means. The second one is to ban illegal trade or smuggling and the third one is considering trade happening through third countries like Dubai, Singapore, etc.

Peace and stability in Afghanistan would ensure hybrid peace in South Asia. Afghanistan is the land of brave people who never accepted foreign occupations. After the US withdrew from Afghanistan in 2021, the Taliban should strive for a sustainable hybrid victory; militarily at home and politically abroad to make the best use of this political legitimacy gained by them after the Doha Accords. The strategic location of Afghanistan has the potential to connect by providing the shortest land route to Russia, Central Asian Republics, the Gulf and Africa through Karachi and Gawadar. This kind of regional integration is the desperate desire of regional players like Russia, China, Turkey, Iran and Pakistan. It would pave the way to make the region a hub for commercial activity and transit trade. Western world and International institutions should unfreeze the Afghan assets and immediately release humanitarian aid for the rehabilitation of Afghanistan.

South Asia is blessed with an abundance of natural resources, the world’s tallest mountains, river basins, various seasons and young, intelligent manpower. South Asians have contributed to the development of both the developed and developing world particularly, the Middle East. Different organizations are formed based on geographical proximity and some are based on shared interests. Some important regional organizations include the African Union(AU), ASEAN, EU, GCC, SCO, SAARC and USAN. All these organizations are contributing to the peace and prosperity of respective regions. Considering ASEAN as an example, SAARC could play the role of productive engagement among South Asian nations. The author has proposed that there should be a SAARC highway sponsored by India under the paradigm of Hybrid Peace to project its Soft Power. The author has proposed the SAARC Information Highway for information sharing in fields like education, health, technology and socio-economic developmental projects. The scope can be extended for sharing information regarding security and law enforcement matters to ensure the security of the region. SAARC’s trade potential can be harnessed through trade ties and diplomatic activity. Countries need to embrace the slogan “Together we rise” for durable peace and progress in the region. Cultural and religious tourism of SAARC countries is another potential instrument for the development and prosperity of the region. The region is full of religious sites of Buddhism, Sikhism, Hinduism and Sufism, providing a space for promoting religious tourism. Cultural heritage sites like the Taj Mahal, Mahenjo Daro Harrapa and many more are also significant sources to attract tourists. Similar to the EU parliament, there should be a SAARC parliament where member countries can discuss their problems and get them sorted out through cooperation and consultation.

This book is an excellent literature providing a new dimension to the traditional approach of instability in Southern Asia. The optimistic approach of Hybrid Peace in Southern Asia along with possible, productive pathways to achieve this objective gave a unique insight to the reader changing the conventional thinking of the unproductivity of the region due to two arch-rivals (India and Pakistan).

Umme Laila
Umme Laila
Mphil Scholar at NDU, Isb. My area of interest includes strategic shifts in global order, complex economic interdependence and South Asian politics.