by Zamir Ahmed Awan for the Saker blog
It is believed that the world is changing rapidly, technology has been improving at an accelerated speed, geopolitics is also changing, new alliances are emerging, and trade pattern has been transformed, and so on. But, one thing is not changed - the suffering of humankind. Human beings are still killed and forced to flee from their homes, and countries and poverty have grown. In addition to natural disasters, human-made disasters are even geared up.
Economic sanctions, narrative war, media war, etc., all are modes of hybrid war. The cold war may have been replaced by the Hybrid war, but, the mentality remained the same. Any country on the left side of the US is facing a hybrid war. Either, it is Russia, China, North Korea, Iran, or any other country, is facing similar challenges of hybrid war.
It is a matter of highly significant that we must understand the concept of hybrid war. Many scholars, researchers, and intellectuals are studying it around the globe, many conferences and seminars are being conducted worldwide and plenty of literature is available.
Pakistan is a typical case of hybrid war and facing it for a couple of decades. On the economic front coercion at the hands of International Financial Institutions (IFIs) to the war of narratives by the arch-rival: India, as revealed by the European watchdog DisInfoLab through the Indian Chronicles, to the physical penetration of the agents to create sabotage and terrorism in Balochistan and Karachi; Pakistan has faced it all. Media is in full swing to spread fake news, fabricate stories and distort Pakistan's narrative. Unfortunately, the media is controlled by the West and over-engaged against Pakistan. Social media is also playing its dirty role too. The worst phenomenon is that many writers used Western literature as a source of information, which is totally wrong and biased against Pakistan. Pakistan could not develop its own authentic source of information yet.
The Chinese sage, Sun Tzu is also gets quoted extensively in the context of the hybrid mannerism of warfare in contemporary wars. Some 2500 years ago, he had prophesied that the supreme acme of skill is to win the war without fighting. Breaking the will of the people of the target state would be the real victory instead of destroying them. Sun Tzu insisted that capturing the enemy forces intact so that those could be used later on. What Chinese wisdom since ancient times!
Pakistan has immensely suffered at the hands of IFIs by accepting unacceptable demands of raising the interest rates, devaluation of the currency, removal of subsidies, increasing the cost of living, inflation, and price hike, which pushed the nation into severe poverty.
A New Instrument of Hybrid War dilated upon the impact of economic stress on Pakistan due to the hybrid war imposed by India. India's External Affairs Minister Jai Shankar (Hindustan Times), admitted that the "BJP Government led by Narendra Modi ensured that Pakistan remained on the Grey List of the FATF is due to us, Pakistan is under the lens of FATF, and it was kept in the Grey List. We have been successful in Pressurizing Pakistan and the fact Pakistan's behavior has changed because of the pressure put by India."
Further, at least four aspects were deployed against Pakistan to hurt its economy under the ambit of hybrid warfare: International Monetary Fund (IMF), FATF, China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and Karachi turmoil. It is viewed that "the best strategy of the enemy is to erode the economic strength of the targeted country." Karachi, the economic hub and lifeline was systematically destroyed to choke Pakistan's economy and make it dependent on international institutions. It is extremely worried about the present economic situation of the country and attributed the same to a concerted effort by the enemy under the umbrella of hybrid warfare.
On the Narratives Warfare front, in the evolved environment where social media plays a dominant role in shaping opinion, the most important thing is to construct a narrative that is appealing and attractive enough to bring change in people's thinking. The significance of a workable narrative that is proactive in its essence and based on sound footing aimed at unsettling the opponent's objectives. Understanding narrative warfare is a necessary precondition for both comprehensive state policy and an informed public debate on issues, particularly security.
At the moment, Pakistan is not only facing the risks of a possible default but also going through the highest inflation within the region as compared to Afghanistan, India, and Bangladesh. Obviously, it appears as if Pakistan has not been able to convince the donor agencies and the friendly countries to assist them at this difficult time, perhaps due to a weak narrative about its efforts toward peace and progress in Afghanistan. This is certainly very alarming because no country has suffered more than Pakistan in its efforts to promote peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Unfortunately, by design, Pakistan is being pushed to a stage where we may be asked to choose between food and nukes. It seems the evil designs worked very well. It happened with Ukraine too, at the time of getting independence from the former USSR, it was a nuke state with an abundance of nuking weapons, nuke capabilities, nuke laboratories, nuke factories, and an abundance of nuke scientists. But was pushed into an economic crisis and then offered financial assistance in return for denuclearization. Its nukes were shifted, factories closed, research abandoned, nuke human resources dismantled, and turned into a state where they could not gain nukes in the future.
Recently, IMF has asked Sri Lanka to cut the size of its military up to half, and Egypt to cut its Army by one-third. It is not sure, what will be IMF conditions to Pakistan in the next stage. God for bid, if Pakistan is asked to cut its Army, its security may be compromised as India is an aggressive and traditional rival of Pakistan. Since independence, India has not accepted Pakistan from the core of its heart and always trying to damage and destroy it. Especially, since PM Narendra Modi has hijacked power in India his extremist policies are more aggressive and a permanent security threat not only t Pakistan but to its all neighbors. India has disputes with all its neighbors, including Bangladesh, Bhutan, China, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka.
The US is supporting India to counter China and wanted all its neighbors to accept Indian supremacy. Pakistan is facing huge pressure from the US to accept Indian hegemony.
Current political and economic instability is dangerous and may lead to disasters. There might be internal or external conspiracies, but, it is the people of Pakistan, who should stand up and take the right decisions. Our fate cannot be in the hands of a few internal or external conspirators. It is time, for the whole nation to unite and think smartly, formulate a comprehensive policy to confront the challenges being faced. Early elections and a government with a heavy mandate can take bold measures. The current PDM is more engaged in politics of power and taking steps to counter PTI only. Their energies are wasted on non-productive issues and less effort is on national issues. The new government, backed by the public may rescue the nation.
Author: Prof. Engr. Zamir Ahmed Awan, Founding Chair GSRRA, Sinologist (ex-Diplomat), Editor, Analyst, and Non-Resident Fellow of CCG (Center for China and Globalization). (E-mail: email protected).