Hybrid warfare is the new aged doctrine of warfare based on achieving national interests by attacking the enemy’s vulnerabilities and weaknesses by using a blend of non-conventional, irregular and tactical methods of warfare and other non-kinetic means. This blend involves intelligence operations, cyber warfare, proxy warfare, information warfare, propaganda, psychological and political warfare, clever diplomacy and many more. The purpose of hybrid warfare is basically to destabilize, disintegrate and demobilize the enemy.
Global and regional dynamics of conflicts are rapidly changing and posing challenges to traditional state structures and military approaches. Conflicts between national armies are gradually waning and giving rise to non-linear matrix of actors and techniques. The meanings of victory and defeat in battlefield are also changed with the terminology quickly becoming the relic of the past. South Asia is no exception, the continuous state of conflict between India and Pakistan is changing and blurring the line between states of war and peace.
Today wars are no longer declared. Concerns were raised by Pakistan’s COAS Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa while addressing at Pakistan Military Academy, when he stated that ‘Pakistan is facing enormous challenges both in conventional and sub conventional domains, our enemies know that they cannot beat us fair & stair, thus subjected us to cruel, evil and protracted hybrid war’. Without naming any country, Gen. Bajwa clearly indicated the precarious situations on eastern and western borders with India and Afghanistan and the growing covert activities of hostile agencies.
The Republic of India cannot accord the risk an all-out war with Pakistan, which could definitely lead to exchange of nuclear weapons or a limited war that may severely have economic impacts on whole region. Indian leadership has therefore chosen to wage a hybrid war against Pakistan, in which the use of irregular forces and terrorism as a key instrument. Indian media has been waging information warfare against Pakistan through various Bollywood movies, e.g. URI; The surgical strike, Raazi, Parmanu; the story of Pokhran, Phantom and so on.
Indian lobbyists and Indian international media industry are doing propaganda against Pakistan, in order to create an international image of Pakistan as terrorist sponsoring state. Indian media channels started war manoeuvring in the post Pulwama scenario that the suicide bomber in the Pulwama attack came from Pakistan. Cyber warfare is known to be most important component of a hybrid war. During the post Pulwama situation, Indian state launched a covert cyber-attack on Pakistan in which Pakistan’s government, military and commercial assets were targeted. Various official Websites of Pakistan, i.e.; foreign office were hacked and put out of services.
India is waging an economic warfare against Pakistan in order to weaken its economy and making it a fragile state, with a mission to get regional domination. India has been waging a water conflict against Pakistan, in order to hamper its economic and agricultural growth. India had used water as a weapon against Pakistan since 1947. The famous canal water dispute of 1947 in west Punjab is worth mentioning in this regard that caused severe impacts on economy and also the chances of famine. India had violated Indus Water treaty by construction of dams and barrages over river Chenab.
India is also using Afghanistan’s land against Pakistan with it two front warfare strategy. Since 2011, India had spent about 2 billion dollars on development projects in Afghanistan, among which one is the construction of dams on Kabul river, that is a source of 26% annual flow of water to Pakistan, moreover it provides livelihood to 25 million population living around the basin. That is an alarming situation for Pakistan being highly dependent on Agricultural sector, it could become most water stressed state by 2040. Political warfare is the final element of a hybrid warfare, which uses lawfare, diplomatic and political instruments as a tool to weaken the enemy. The scenario of Indian activities in FATF against Pakistan to enhance its own foreign policy components is worth mentioning in this regard.
Moreover, narrative building against Pakistan is also done to declare Pakistan as a terrorist supporter and insurgencies initiator state. Narrative against Pakistan Nuclear assets and military institutions are also built, such as a non-nuclear Pakistan would be more peaceful and cooperative in the region (nuclear proliferation optimism), or the spending over defence budget are useless etc. moreover, concerns are also raised over safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear assets and it is also linked with the threat of nuclear terrorism.
CPEC has also been fell prey to this political warfare, as CPEC is a game-changer for Pakistan. Efforts are being done to subvert this economic prosperity of Pakistan. False information is shared regarding its routes and sector-wise spending to create a trust deficit among the provinces of Pakistan. Another component of political warfare is the use of various so called revolutionary groups which represents themselves as a vessel for political or social change. There are several peaceful as well as violent such groups operating in Pakistan that are backed by Indian state. These groups involves revolutionaries like Hizbut-Tehreer in 2011 or violent groups like Tehreek-e-Taliban, or separatists like Mukti Bani’s militant group in East Pakistan backed by Indian Army in 1971, or Afghanistan based Baluchistan Liberation front (BLF), also includes the agitators like Baloch Republican Army (BRA) & Baloch Liberation Army (BLA) that wages insurgencies and sabotage for their own interests against state of Pakistan.
These are groups are actively supported by Indian states under The Doval Doctrine, as revealed by Commander Kal Bhushan Jadhav. These group were responsible in a number of terrorist attacks in Pakistan including the one on Quaid’s residency in Ziarat, Quetta, and also on Chinese consulate in Karachi. In addition to this political pressure groups and NGO’s are also used to destabilize the peaceful environment of a state, for example the revolutionary Laal movement and Aurat March etc.
There are so many other components of this hybrid warfare launched by India against Pakistan. The need of the hour is to counter these Hybrid Threat through mutual public solidarity instead of political and ideological isolation. Military and Government institutions need public support to cope with these hybrid attacks.