Speakers identify challenges, vulnerabilities Pakistan facing in hybrid warfare

ISLAMABAD: The Speakers, at the Centre for Aerospace and Security Studies (CASS) international webinar, on Friday identified challenges and vulnerabilities the country has been facing due to impacts of hybrid warfare imposed by enemy countries exploiting internal divisions.

The CASS had organised an international webinar on ‘Hybrid Warfare against Pakistan: Challenges and Response Options’, here to discuss the complex dynamics of hybrid war that were at play in South Asia and analyse how they were taking a toll on the country’s national security, said a news release.

Speakers from Pakistan and the United Kingdom highlighted that Pakistan, like any developing country, had its own set of vulnerabilities, with its major challenges being identity conflict, ethnic and sectarian divide, poor economy, poor governance, political instability and weak institutions.

The also called for improving governance in Pakistan to cope with the impacts of hybrid warfare imposed by enemy countries exploiting internal chasms within the country.

“All these serve as ominous assets of exploitation for India which has been using grey zone tactics to destabilize and harm Pakistan.”

In his welcome note, Air Marshal M Ashfaque Arain (R), Director, Strategic Defence and Security at CASS, said that spearheaded by non-traditional use of power centres, not only great powers but various middle

powers were also engaging in hybrid warfare to destabilize, demoralize and disintegrate their core adversaries.

He added that India was continuously waging hybrid war against the country since its inception. “This has been expedited more recently with increased funding and training separatist militias in Pakistan, conducting economic subversion by politicizing international bodies like Financial Action Task Force (FATF) and carrying out diplomatic sabotage in the form of disinformation campaigns, revelations by EU Disinfolab are the latest example of Indian endeavours.”

Conceptualizing the theory and practice of hybrid warfare, Professor Emeritus, King’s College London, Sir Lawrence Freedman outlined that sabotage, propaganda and deception had always been part of war strategy and there was nothing new in hybrid warfare.

In his view, modern society’s dependence on the Internet had provided new opportunities to opponents to cause problems that were not there before, not only to spread information, but also disinformation on a wide scale.

Former High Commissioner of Pakistan to India Ambassador (R) Abdul Basit observed that the ongoing 5th generation warfare was all about keeping Pakistan politically unstable, economically weak and regionally and internationally maligning the country; and its objectives ranged from Kashmir to Afghanistan.

Ambassador Basit stressed that 5th generation warfare was a double-edged sword as false narratives could not be sustained for long. The recent DisInfo Lab revelations were a case in point. To tackle such campaigns, states like Pakistan needed to formulate a well-calibrated national response backed by a well-defined foreign policy, he remarked.

Former President of the National Defence University, Lieutenant General (R) Aamer Riaz said the fundamental target of hybrid warfare was the social contract between state and citizens in order to gradually incapacitate the target state, and eventually disenchanting its citizens to a point where this trust was broken.

Lieutenant General Riaz stressed that India was exploiting all available fault lines within Pakistan – ethnic, social or institutional. He was of the view that media and academia needed to play a more effective and vigilant role in arming the public about fake news being propagated to hurt Pakistan’s interests.

During the interactive Question and Answer Session, speakers warned that India, with the support of other global powers, would continue to create problems in Balochistan through Afghanistan.

It was pointed out that the Pakistani media was least sensitive about Pakistan’s interests due to lack of professionals and adequate interaction between the government and media that could provide tools to counter India’s false propaganda.

In his concluding remarks, President CASS, Air Chief Marshal (R) Kaleem Saadat emphasized that Indian hybrid war against Pakistan was a well-conceived and deliberate plan to harm and undermine the country through other means.

“Indian political and military leadership as well as the mainstream media are involved and supportive of this operation, ” he warned.