Warfare has transformed itself in a plethora of ways for eons rendering it pivotal for the warfare experts and armies to research contemporary methods to counter the emerging hybrid warfare challenge. Amidst the burgeoning power of media and fifth-generation warfare, the virtual domain of cyberwarfare is yet to be understood by developing countries like Pakistan. 5th Generation warfare integrates Air, Military, Political, Economic and psychological warfare to weaken the adversary. Growing reliance on ICT has enhanced the vulnerability of cyber attacks which has made cyber security, a linchpin of National Security.
Pakistan Army is the tenth most robust army of the world yet, we need to develop mechanisms to counter fifth generation and hybrid warfare thereby, enlightening our young officers on the vulnerability of cyber attacks by HIAs. The Pakistan Airforce in this regard has been stringent and focused on developing Air centric cyberwarfare as evident in incursion in IAF in February 2019. This paper attempts to introspect into the notion of Fifth Generation warfare including Hybrid warfare studying the consanguinity existing between them and also discussing the various contours (Social, Political, Military, Cultural &Economic) including the measures to counter cyberspace criminal activities. In this contemporary stage, whereby, social media is powerful to project an ideologue or view, the sustainable development of electronic and social media is pivotal to counter anti-state sentiments.
Hybrid warfare and 5th Generation warfare both have concealed the battlefield which is perplexing as it has made the perspective of adversaries increasingly challenging to comprehend and the infusion of NSAs by enemies is vulnerable to the existing security framework. The impact of such malicious warfare on the foreign policy of developed states would be highlighted as violent and ethnic movements in the garb of human rights movements in FATA have emphasized the importance to counter such psychological dimensions of warfare that can pervade our rank and file. The accelerated changes in the dynamics of warfare have transformed fifth-generation warfare into hybrid warfare, but the heterogeneous nature of threats has a significant impact on the security and national integrity of a state.
In the contemporary world, one phenomenon confabulated about is hybrid warfare and the burgeoning 5th Generation warfare as both are employed by warring states to paralyze their adversaries. Hybrid warfare is fundamentally the blend of Conventional and non-conventional means of warfare with a plethora of elements of national power particularly, the use of cyberspace (gray zone) to disenfranchise the state from the public influence disintegrating the unity of a nation. On the contrary, 5GW primarily involves alterations of public perspectives and perception ingraining offensive narrative through obfuscation of world and political affairs; Often it is termed as “Propaganda“ or “Ideological” warfare.
East Pakistan separation was infused through a similar form of warfare whereby grievances were exaggerated by Indian forces amongst the Bengalis to show resentment toward Pakistan. However, this definition can be molded in several ways depending upon the focal target of one’s enemy. Privacy infringement, espionage, data theft upon sensitive nuclear sites and the potential of Non-State actors are all elements of 5GW, and our understanding is limited which affects our ability to deter and mitigate conflict.
Hybrid (Grayzone) Warfare
Hybrid warfare has its roots since, eons however, in the renowned battle of Plassey 1757, traitors such as Mir Jaffar, and Mir Sadiq revolted against their own emir in favour of the British forces which triumphed them in Bengal. Such a concept of alluding enemy forces was aggravated during the Cold war whereby, both the USA and the Soviet Union ( Russia ) recruited each other’s G
Hybrid warfare has been in deliberations since, the 9/11 attacks, the Stuntext virus ( Malware on Iranian Nuclear facility), Arab Spring, Russian involvement in US elections 2016, attacks in Germany and numerous other instances whereby, cyberspace and brainstorming individuals have been a successful tool used against adversaries. Additionally, the exploitative use of Twitter and other forums in propagating anti-state protests in Arab spring in Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia is unprecedented.
Edward Snowden and his alleged involvement in siphoning of classified information couples with startling revelations. According to Snowden, Pakistan is the 2nd most spied-upon country in the world. Pakistan has developed a Cybercrime bill however, there is a lot to be done to uplift and development of safeguards (Firewalls, encryption techniques and Robust protocols) in order to impede deleterious theft of information security.
Manufacturers of defense equipment in the USA have diversified their research towards the utilization of Artificial intelligence (AI) in robotics, surveillance equipment and armed drones. In Hybrid warfare, the use of Letha; Autonomous Robotics (LARs) is also being deliberated upon to truncate collateral damage in guerilla warfare. This will also aid in aggravating of battlefield spectrum since there are vulnerabilities that exist in such equipment being hacked and used against adversaries. Moreover, the principle of proportionality and distinction between combatants and civilians is essential in accordance with the Geneva convention.
Reasons for Hybrid Warfare
Time, space and accessibility are imperative elements to render an enemy’s power; Hybrid utilizes all three factors to target the adversary with scaled damage to critical security, technological and political infrastructure.
The famous proverb “ Time is money” is relatively more pragmatic in the contemporary world, which is shifting blocs and aligning which demands rapid evaluation in warfare methodology. Iranian Nuclear facility was not disintegrated by major powers through coercive measures rather nonkinetic mechanism was employed in the form of Stuxnet Malware. Data analytics tracked the searches of an anonymous Iranian Scientist who was inclined toward sports cars therefore, an email was sent to his server with
The hybrid warfare space has brought about a phenomenal reduction in inaccessibility issues through virtual domain. Banking services, E-commerce, Online Jobs, confidential state information and other essential services are all within the cyber domain which is susceptible to hacktivism. Over 61 million netizens exist in Pakistan among, whom over 35 Mn have access to Social media including Twitter, Myspace, WhatsApp, Facebook, and other applications. Therefore, this widens the bubble of cyberspace exposed to more unorthodox, potent and complex cyber threats.
- Cyber Domain
Cyberspace with virtually untraceable and inconclusive results fosters private hacktivists hired by HIAs to blur war prospects. Sun Tzu’s Art of routing out the enemy from its essence without fighting is evident in Cyberwarfare. Trojans, Electronic Malware, and related viruses take diverse anti-encryption mechanisms, the antidote to it also requires modifications which we are not able to develop indigenously in countries like Pakistan.
The absence of CERT in Pakistan can also afflict a calibrated cyber response which makes hybrid warfare more pragmatic and blurs accountability. The chances of impeachment of the accused are low in developing countries which makes it a lucrative war methodology. Moreover, cheaper access to 4G/5G internet has enhanced its affordability and versatility as a weapon to dislodge the enemy’s reputation and computer systems. Additionally, a powerful force for hybrid warfare is recruited through cyberspace. It targets self-motivated, self-trained and individuals with the ability to cast fear among subjects without any strategic ownership thereby, preventing states’ security policy embarrassment in case of failures. A lone wolf is such an individual. On the contrary, it can also be a strategic victory if one is able to tailor the public opinion to galvanize the state’s narrative and averts internal strife.
Fifth Generation Warfare
5th Generation Warfare (5GW) was previously conducted to obscure facts from the people in a way to manipulate their perception of world and political affairs of a country. Fake news diplomacy, electronic media exploitation, and widening internal fissures such as ethnic conflicts like Baluchistan secessionist movements. Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) evolved rallying anti-state slogans at the behest of HIAs accusing the army of blatant human rights violations in military operations in FATA. A stream of demonstrations, debates and protests begin in various Private sector universities under the leadership of ManzoorPashteen, Ali Wazir and MohsinDawar.
Additionally, in 5GW enemies shelter violence in garb of genuine grievances inciting violence. Mostly, Non-State actors such as TTP, Al-Qaeda, ISIS and related insurgencies fight wars without clear political objectives for financial gains. According to the documentary proofs showcased by ISPR, HIAs are engrossed in planning for IED attacks by luring the NSAs with monetary boons as revealed by the IED perpetrator planned in Muzaffarabad. Moreover, this era marked by Fake news afflicts the developing countries through insecurity which in turn sends shockwaves in the stock market depreciating investor confidence.
In a 5GW quagmire, one has to tread the hairline between combatants and NSAs with careful consideration as information can be swayed along both ends. In retrospect, Twitter has been used by Research & Analysis Wing (RAW) to show a video whereby, it was shown that two groups are clashing in Karachi while this turned out to be false however, it affected the stock market.
Effects of 5GW on National Security
National Security policy is a determinant of the foreign and economic framework. Challenges grappling with Pakistan by 5GW are difficult to unearth since the novel and evolving nature of conflict has necessitated to develop of response parameters. In all spheres strategic, operational and tactical, anecdotes need to be evolved to counter Kinetic and non kinetic warfare. Clauswitz’s statement of “continuous interaction of opposite” is pragmatic in such a situation.
Recently, a report tagged as “EU Disinformation lab” highlighted the 750 Dehli-based media companies deliberately formed to defame Pakistani culture, military and politics. FATF “grey status” has also been perpetrated owing to the Indian government accusing Pakistan of terror financing, Money laundering, unregulated banking transactions amplifying fears of Nuclear security; Our economy has faced a setback due to FATF regulations of over $38 Bn according to an Islamabad based Tabadlab think tank. False flag operations like the “Surgical Strike “hype in 2018 is a sheer example of 5GW whereby, fake news is circulated in a repeated manner deeming it real.
Therefore, such yellow journalism can afflict national security policy by fluctuations in Foreign policy with allied countries of India. Amidst, propaganda, Pakistan has been trying to vouchsafe ground realities particularly, in the FATF plenary meeting by revamping our economic transactions checks and balances. Moreover, as witnessed by the timing of Johar Town mysterious explosion in Lahore, it was corroborated that India has played antics to impede Pakistan’s way to exiting the Gray list.
Pakistan Armed forces are not oblivious of such antics employed by the adversaries. As a primary goal to chalk out an anecdote, the National security narrative should be reorganized to bring all stakeholders (State institutions, PEMRA, PTA, NSCS & Newly formed cyberwarfare school at MCS) onto one forum to decide the yardstick for implicating cybercriminals. Pipelines, Oil refineries, Factories, Nuclear reactors and electricity grids are all
Recently, in 2016, Saudi Aramco’s oil refinery was hit by “Distrack Wiper” malware which led to two weeks of closure of supply as it disrupted the
Keeping this in perspective, Pakistan does not possess such sophisticated cybercrime control measures as it requires colossal economic investment into digital intelligence particularly, Artificial intelligence to carryout successful covert operations (IBOs).
Furthermore, the character slandering and 2018 electoral results rigging allegations are all aggravated to escalate insecurity surrounding political stability is also a part of the 5GW by our adversaries. The Afghan drawdown and Indian speculations regarding, Pakistan’s interference in Afghan regime change is tantamount to fuel further violence and bloodshed on our Western borders.
Since the advent of the state structure in the 17th century, war has become a recurring aspect of international politics. However, the n`ature of the strategies and technologies employed have been divergent as per the required time and topography. This recognition has been profoundly observed within the strategic and geopolitical spheres over the years that initiating war exclusively with conventional military means is not only expensive and unsustainable but also inflicts a substantial level of destruction as well as undefinable collateral damage.
The region of South Asia was confronted with a hybrid threat by The Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE) in Northeastern Sri Lanka. The LTTE is a primary example of a threat that was hybrid in nature. The LTTE replicated the structure of a military capability possessed by a state-based upon the three armed forces. Likewise, it attempted to use illegal organizations to fund guerrilla warfare and had a vast media network all across the globe. The Sri Lankan government has spent decades transforming its traditional military strategies into hybrid fighting strategies to combat the LTTE.
Pakistan is a nuclear-armed state in South Asia that is confronted on conventional and non-conventional means by another powerful sworn adversary. Increased military modernization and transitions in India’s military doctrines have generated a security dilemma for Pakistan. The Pakistani army chief General Bajwa said: “The difficulties in Pakistan both conventional and sub-conventional are immense, and our adversary knows that they cannot beat us fairly and equitably, and thus have subjected us to a barbaric, malicious and prolonged hybrid warfare.” The hostile and violent state and non-state actors are exploiting opportunities that could create turmoil by unleashing a hybrid war in the state of Pakistan.
Every war has the power to clobber and inflate the backbone of adversarial forces
However, the art of contemporary warfare with novel technologies and media operations has well-orchestrated and imperceptible repercussions. Pakistan has fallen prey to hybrid warfare since 1971. India’s scheme of fostering Mujib’s six-point plan and the Treaty for Indo-Soviet Friendship served as a catalyst for hybrid warfare in Pakistan. Coercive diplomacy and exacerbated proliferation concerns were employed to curtail the nuclear and missile programmes of Pakistan.
The movement for Kashmir’s independence has been decimated by portraying it as an act of terrorism through vigorous propaganda and false-flag operations. The hacking of several Pakistani websites and the forceful assertion of the Taliban from Afghanistan into Pakistan have led to an escalation of the hybrid war in Pakistan. The toolbox of instruments with conventional means amalgamated with unconventional means to wage hybrid war in Pakistan is becoming exceptionally challenging to be deterred by Pakistan.
Indian Threats against Pakistan
The conventional and nuclear vigilance of Pakistan has been acting as a strong deterrent force against the military aggression of India. India has been instrumental in combating Pakistan through the use of multifarious instruments and derivative techniques of influence and power along with an emphasis on non-military and proxy tools. An extensive range of treasonous tactics of hybrid warfare has been exercised by India in accordance with fabricating instability in Pakistan. Moreover, a doctrinal shift has been observed in India where the primary emphasis is laid upon sub-conventional operations towards Pakistan. New Delhi has been devising conspiracies for the provocation of asymmetric warfare in its neighborhood by exploiting sub-conventional means such as Cyber, deception, enflaming terrorism in the province of Baluchistan, information warfare, and the use of proxy forces to impede the national security of Pakistan.
New Delhi has been funding material supplies and funds to the insurgents in Baluchistan and has been radicalizing belligerent groups in Pakistan. The anarchical status quo of Baluchistan has opened gates for intelligence agencies and terrorist organizations to unveil indirect and sub-conventional warfare. Terrorist organizations such as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Baluchistan Liberation Army (BLA), Baluchistan Liberation Force (BLF) are primarily financed and trained by New Delhi and Kabul. The attack on the Chinese consulate in Karachi by the Baluchistan Liberation Army was supported by India as a strategy of its hybrid warfare to lay the national security of Pakistan on line.
Non-state Actors in Pakistan
The fifth-generation warfare in Pakistan has given rise to countless non-state actors that have been posing hybrid threats while acting as proxies to accomplish their radical goals. Non-state actors function unilaterally on their own social and political agendas, yet they assert significant power within the state and have orchestrated grievances.
- Tehrik Taliban Pakistan
Tehrik Taliban Pakistan (TTP) tops the list of non-state actors that operates upon the agendas of opposing the US and sectarian violence within Pakistan. Post 9/11 attacks spawned the NATO operations in Afghanistan which led to the creation of TTP. Following the intervention of the US in Afghanistan, a fragment of radical fundamentalists initiated a movement in synchronization with the Taliban in Afghanistan. Under the leadership of Bait UllahMehsud, an official accord was made between 13 groups in 2007, seen today as TTP, to unite against the NATO forces in Afghanistan and to wage war against the armed forces of Pakistan under the regimes of fifth-generation warfare. Moreover, TTP has been exploiting racial and religious fissures while sowing anarchy and turmoil in Pakistan.
Islamic State of Iraq and Levant or Syria, commonly known as Daesh, was a group that was established in 1999 by Abu Mus’ab al-Zarqawi. The jihadist terrorist group operates over a radical ideology that asserts itself as a universal caliphate, claiming political, religious, and military authority over all Muslims. Claims against IS recruitment processes in Pakistan have been justified by the strong ties between the group and Al-Qaeda. The responsibility of attack on the vehicle of a minority community in 2015 in Karachi was claimed by IS which indicated the vulnerability of Pakistan towards hybrid war from IS.
- Sectarian divide
Since the beginning of recorded history, the sectarian political divide has dominated the world. Since its creation, Pakistan has been plagued by sectarian acrimony which has rendered Pakistan susceptible to being exploited by external plutocrats. The inroads and cross-border raiding of the Sunni-Shia rivalry have been discerned in the state structure of Pakistan, while the US’s vitriolic intervention in Afghanistan has ultimately been proven to have pernicious consequences. Since the arrival of the Afghan Taliban in Pakistan in 2005, the average rate of the sectarian massacre in Pakistan has escalated. Foreign powers such as Iran and Saudi Arabia have waged proxy wars in Pakistan as a result of the hybrid nature of ethno-sectarian disputes. In order to crumble the state of Pakistan, inimical agencies and non-state actors have been infuriating propaganda against the country’s sectarian divide as a driver of Hybrid warfare.
Read more: EXPLAINER: What is hybrid warfare?
Political Dimension of Hybrid Warfare
The virulent aspects of hybrid warfare tactics such as political, economic, and societal have proven to be effective in cynically exploiting and destabilizing the adversary. In the modern era, India and other bitter rivals of Pakistan have been exploiting political and economic variables to destabilize the country domestically. Economic and diplomatic pressures have been used to malign the reputation of Pakistan and portray it as a politically and economically fragile state. The political objectives behind Pakistan’s subversion are entwined with terrorism and sectarian violence while alienating Pakistan in eyes of the regional and global arena.
Economic Dimension of Hybrid Warfare
The expansion of hybrid warfare in the economic and strategic dimensions has intimidating effects on the national security of Pakistan. A cloaked aspect of hybrid warfare is disruption of infrastructure and economic model of a state while delegitimizing the authority. In the contextual analysis of hybrid warfare, the lymphatic economic position of Pakistan and dearth of resources have curtailed Pakistan in securing itself towards this trailblazing form of warfare. India has unleashed circuits that aim at disrupting the economy of Pakistan by targeting the joint venture of Pakistan and China i.e. CPEC.
The Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) is seen as a weapon for the economic and political dominance of China in the world. The frustration triggered by the CPEC and the advent of the Gwadar port in the adversaries of Pakistan has escalated the use of hybrid tactics to sabotage the project. New Delhi has been proliferating deplorable propaganda against the commotion of Pakistan’s economy. Withal, Indian intelligence agency RAW has been colluding and exacerbating sabotaging activities in Gwadar. To incapacitate the construction process, the agency has been executing terrorist operations and covert activities primarily at CPEC sites.
Moreover, Law enforcement authorities in Pakistan captured an Indian Navy officer named Kalbhushan Yadav in March 2016. Kalbhushan Yadav made alarming confessions about India’s adequate funding and support for sabotaging and obstructing the CPEC project as a hybrid warfare strategy. India has been exploiting political disorder and economic disruption triggered by hybrid warfare within the local inhabitants to pursue its strategic objectives against Pakistan.
Military Dimension of Hybrid Warfare
The amalgam of 5th Generation warfare and hybrid warfare instigated by state and non-state actors in Pakistan has proven itself to be of great turmoil and havoc. The chaotic waves of hybrid warfare employed by anti-state actors have been fabricating gaps between the armed forces of Pakistan, its people, and the government. On the other hand, the emerging hybrid threats posed by the technological and military modernization of India have impetuous repercussions for Pakistan. Post 9/11 ascended the sum of internal and external militants in the territory of Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). Foci of the militant groups propagated into other tribal areas and alongside the border of the province of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK).
Pakistan Army commenced military operations against the growing nuisance of terrorism. In the year 2014, the Zarb-e-Azb was launched in order to mitigate the existence of militant groups within Pakistan. In order to accelerate the concurrent combat stabilization operations in Pakistan, another military operation famously known as Radd-ul-Fasaad was initiated in 2017. The operation also succeeded at eliminating felonious mafias in Karachi, freeing the city from disarray and peril. The strategic elements of the military dimension were able to ensure a progressive and secure environment in Pakistan that in return would elevate the economic progress of the state.
Technological Dimension of Hybrid Warfare
The power of non-kinetic operations can be gauged by the information and media muscle. Building narratives and counter-narratives to carve out false apprehensions against a state through media have become a ubiquitous tool of information warfare. Cyberspace security has become a crucial concern for both governmental and non-governmental actors in recent years. As more and more everyday transactions (online banking, online tax computation, online health care, critical infrastructure control, and so on) are being carried out in cyberspace, a potential focus on security is required to safeguard the data, stored and transmitted, from potential attackers and terrorists.
The use of media as a convenient tool has blurred the boundaries between domestic and international terrorism by bringing every single activity and attack to millions of households, listeners, viewers, and other people all over the world. Terrorism and the media do not often share or converge their goals with each other, but communication and propaganda are an inevitable and imperative element of terrorist operations. Media is considered to be a ‘two-edged weapon’ which is being utilized by the terrorist organizations in Pakistan also use Media as a tool or strategy, in order to achieve their fixed agendas.
The world witnessed a traditional example of generating propaganda through media in Pakistan when India’s nuclear program was depicted as Smiling Buddha while Pakistan’s nuclear program was characterized as a menace to regional and global security. Similarly, the attack on the Indian Parliament and the Mumbai Bombings were showcased on mainstream television to incite animosity against Pakistan in the world. Propagation of false news through media is a common way of creating turmoil in a state. India has been spreading a false narrative of ‘Islamophobia’ and ‘Islam as a threat’ to justify its fascist strategies and fabrication of hegemonic policies on the behalf of Hindutva ideology.
Innovative approaches towards such dilemma is essential in order to thwart any nefarious designs by adversaries of Pakistan. A multi-pronged strategy and motley of solutions are hereby proposed;
- Offensive Diplomacy is a subtle art to win the perception war being pre-emptive rather, than, rendering enemy an opportune moment to utilize the delay in decision making. For instance, the propagation of diplomatic pressure at FATF, UNSC and other forums by India on petty crimes/domestic issues of Pakistan is due to our fragile strategic interaction; Sharp, Concise and prompt emphasis on adversary’s transgressions. Resultantly, the Human rights violations including, the plead of minorities in India will coerce them to take defensive posturing in the realm. Russian-European Union contention in Ukraine is a war of words and intentions to espouse war mongering resulting, in either sides consolidating their existing positions.
- FIA, IB and Intelligence apparatus be equipped with diverse intelligentsia to develop a multifaceted strategy to counter the narratives with irrefutable evidence to avert any mounting threat. All these Intel agencies are connected with SBP and monetary regulators in order to curb International terror financing in Media houses to tackle swaths of fake information directed at the state.
- Narcoterrorism in the form of illegal drug trafficking through DTH method is also apparent in hybrid warfare employed by India, while its influence was prevalent in Afghanistan. NGOs, HRCP, and ANF be mobilized to foster awareness in youth about the growing tactic of drug abuse. Cognitive and Moral domain are prone to intense attack, jeopardizing, and public will to societal norms.
- Pakistan’s novel National Security Policy (NSP) unveiled in recent times aims at Geo-economics as the future doorway towards Comprehensive Security. Such a shift is remarkable, however, in vain till its resourcefulness and productivity gains are limited to an academic audience. Seminars think tanks and Envoys serving in different parts of the world need to enlighten the leadership about our tooth and nail efforts in developing consensus for Peace, Security, and Economic Security. Food Security Policy is nurtured through International donors in order to thwart the Indian false campaign aimed at calling Pakistan’s establishment to be security-centric.
Hybrid Warfare can be tackled through a cocktail of Good governance, Pro-growth economic policies, Foreign Direct investment and galvanizing Overseas Pakistani’s opinion on utilizing Pakistan for regional connectivity and opening new avenues for poverty reduction in South Asia including Afghanistan. Estonia is stable and out of Russian influence owing to the trust of the public in their National Government (66%).
Written by Engr Muqeet Tahir Malik and Miss Rafiya Zahid
Engr Muqeet Tahir Malik is working as a construction manager in a reputable organization in Pakistan managing mega Road projects. He has a penchant for Current affairs and International Relations with a focus on Afghanistan and also possesses a predilection toward the Civil services of Pakistan. He has written in numerous newspapers and magazines at his college and university level.
Miss Rafiya Zahid is a graduate of National Defence University in International Relations and defense studies. She has written a plethora of articles for various forums. She is working in a reputable media organization for Pakistan’s government. She is inclined towards research on contemporary security and Afghanistan. She is an avid reader and possesses an articulate personality.
The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.