Indian Hybrid Warfare: The Case of Pakistan

Author Name: Aneeqa Safdar      08 Jul 2020     Emerging Technologies

The world has changed, so has the warfare. Gone are the days of reliance on conventional tools of war to achieve the strategic ends. The 21st century conflicts incorporate multi-domain approach that leverages on exploiting adversary’s vulnerabilities. It aims at inflicting long lasting pains to the enemy through schemes that impact its social, cultural and political spheres.

A recent term that has entered modern discourse of combat is hybrid threat or hybrid warfare. Though still an ill-defined and emerging term, it mainly envisages the blending of military and non-military warfare tactics. The waging of irregular warfare at economic, political, psychological and electronic fronts makes up its basic stratagem.

In the current age of irregular warfare where political objectives are secured by capitalizing upon the socio-political vulnerabilities of the enemy, one such process involves the exploitation of identity politics and promoting ethno-nationalist conflicts in the adversary country through the use of interest groups, proxies and irregular forces. The principal strategy is the politicization of the ethnic sentiments and exploiting the real or perceived grievances of common masses.

Pakistan is often described as a state which is pluralist in nature where different identities are living together. Similarly, in our part of the world where the primordial approach towards ethnic groups finds acceptance, the ethno-national and ethno-linguistic identities shape the socio-political fabric of the society. Admittedly, this very approach has led to the development of ethno-political conflicts which ultimately serve to hinder national cohesion and integration.

Moreover, it has paved the way for the arrival of secessionist proxy actors be it the Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), the Sindhudesh Liberation Army (SLA) or the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM). These entities creating turmoil in Pakistan have the primary aim to advance their foreign interests by sowing the seeds of dissention in common populace against the state. Despite the heinous nature of the activities of the insurgent groups, to some degree they find acceptance in their respective polities. This shows that the state has faltered at some point that such blatant acts of violence and disruption are normalized amongst the ordinary masses.

While the diversity in culture and identities has been the pride and essence of Pakistan, the failure of successive governments in equitable distribution of resources and institutional injustices amongst the different polities have antagonised them. Particularly in Baluchistan for example the cries of locals of not getting their political rights is not entirely wrong. Baluchistan, which makes the largest province in terms of area, and is blessed with abundant natural resources has failed to develop at par with other federating units of Pakistan. The social and economic backwardness of the province alongside their inability to control their resources have estranged the general masses who eventually fall prey to the foreign propaganda. Even though no Balochi regards himself any less Pakistani than a Mohajir or a Punjabi, the foreign propaganda and disinformation campaigns of half-truths and demonizing the state when compound with their sense of tribalism and the feeling of marginalization, sway their psychology and behavior.

Indian hostility towards Pakistan is secret to none. The two states have fought three regular wars and have engaged in multiple border skirmishes since independence. With the emergence of nuclear deterrence, even though direct warfare has been somehow abdicated in the region, there has been a marked shift toward subversion and sabotage.

India being a relatively greater power in the region has been utilizing all its might to target Pakistan’s elements of national power, be it its ideology, economy, geography or institutions. Following the approach of deception and disinformation, India is sowing seeds of discord and disruption within the state as well as in international community against Pakistan. Although India’s tall claims of isolating Pakistan in the comity of nations have failed miserably, it however, continues to work for destabilizing Pakistan internally.

The support, secessionist militant groups in Pakistan, receive from India has been verified by none other than the captured Research and Analysis Wing (RAW) agent, Kulbhushan Jadhav , which ultimately showed how the ‘Doval Doctrine’ (India’s hybrid-offensive against Pakistan) is at play.

While Pakistan successfully eliminated the menace of terrorism that came as a by-product of the US led war on terror, this new form of hybrid threat has started to emerge within national borders. The recent cowardly attack on Pakistan Stock Exchange, officially claimed by the BLA’s Majeed Brigade, is the latest of many attacks that had been carried out by separatists group operating on behest of foreign powers, all in the name of nationalism. The Fidayeen Majeed Brigade of BLA is known for its targeting of Pakistan’s security forces as well as Chinese interests in Pakistan.

The current (Indian) efforts of fueling unrest in Pakistan are designed towards the higher goal of killing two birds with one stone that is to destabilize Pakistan as well as hit its strategic competitor China. The Chinese investors happen to be 40% share holders of the bourse. India had always been a vocal opponent of China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), and now it has also indulged itself in an open border confrontation with China. Even the pandemic couldn’t prevent the belligerent regime of India from carrying out its notorious activities in Pakistan.

The ongoing happenings in Pakistan nonetheless show how India has managed to nurture its assets in Pakistan and is advancing its strategic interest by exploiting the fault lines existing within the state. Pakistan must be cognizant of Indian schemes to defeat Pakistan not only at physical front but also through hybrid schemes such as proxies that may impair the country in unpredictable ways.

Pakistan must come up with a concrete national response to destroy India’s nefarious manoeuvres. This response would only be credible when people of Pakistan free themselves from regional resentments and partisan interests and recognize the real enemy. Similarly, the state’s role in this regard is also pertinent. It must work to establish a political environment that is inclusive and addresses the genuine grievances of the people in an objective manner so that they no longer succumb to the subversive propaganda. Additionally, good governance, development of the backward areas on priority basis, quick justice and respect for the rights of all citizens must be the focus of state in future.

 

Aneeqa Safdar is Research Associate at Centre for Aerospace and Security Studies (CASS). The article was first published in Regional Times Newspaper. She can be reached at cass.thinkers@gmail.com.