Need of a Renewed Retort

Author Name: Aneeqa Safdar       27 Feb 2021     Airforce

27 February 2019 was undoubtedly an extraordinary day in the history of India-Pakistan military engagement. Pakistan, a supposedly small power in terms of conventional capabilities, on February 27, 2019 once and for all settled the military capabilities debate in South Asia. Pakistan Air Force (PAF) adequately busted the myth of Indian conventional (numerical) superiority and proved that professionalism and immortal courage can beat any superiority claimed by an enemy.

2021 marks the second anniversary of the historic pounce of PAF’s Shaheens on the Indian dream of warmongering in the region. Pakistan commemorates it as an exceptional win in the current day operational environment by shooting down two Indian fighter aircraft that shattered India’s dream of beating war drums in South Asia. They proved that they are always prepared to give a befitting response to any enemy’s misadventures and false flag operations that challenge our homeland’s sovereignty.

While Pakistan’s readiness in all major domains of warfare be it air, land or sea remains absolute, the importance of protecting the human domain is yet to be established, particularly in face of the changing character of war. According to Napoleon Bonaparte, “there are but two powers in the world, the sword and the mind. In the long run, the sword is always beaten by the mind.” The Pakistan Air Force may continue to win battles for us like Swift Retort, but the war being waged in the minds of the population through hostile Indian propaganda is to be fought by none other than the citizens of Pakistan themselves.

Indian hybrid warfare against Pakistan is a reality as New Delhi has left no stone unturned to malign our state externally as well as to destabilize it internally by exploiting our fault lines. As rightly pointed out by veteran Ambassador and former High Commissioner of Pakistan to India, Abdul Basit, in a recent webinar arranged by Centre for Aerospace & Security studies (CASS), the prime target of Indian hybrid propaganda are the Pakistan Armed Forces. India through its active propaganda machine has perpetually been sponsoring the narrative that Pakistan Armed Forces (particularly the Pakistan Army) are to be blamed for all the wrongs in the state. Indian information warfare tactics are effectively poised to scandalize and discredit Pakistan’s defense expenditure vis-à-vis its development issues

Critics have always been saying that a developing country like Pakistan must not emphasize its military buildup as the same money should be utilized for development work. But had it not been Pakistan’s preparedness to defend itself in wake of Indian aggression, we may have faced defeat in the Balakot aftermath. One more thing that is important to note here is that our neighbor India, despite being amongst those countries overwhelmed by chronic poverty, manages to find itself amongst the top military spenders of the world. Nobody in India questions the efficacy of its military spending as it is linked to their national prestige. On the contrary, Pakistan whose entire rationale behind strengthening its Armed Forces is to counter Indian aggressions is met with fierce criticism both nationally as well as internationally.

Unfortunately, waging anti-Armed Forces propaganda, which was once the bread and butter of our adversary’s foreign intelligence agency, has now also been embraced by a handful in our homeland too. Criticizing state institutions for all the wrongs in the country has become an eternal mantra of Pakistani electoral politics. The one thing all the political squabbling in Pakistan is doing for sure, is providing our enemy with even greater opportunity to wage its hybrid assault by exploiting the political divide.

The primary objective of war has always been to weaken the opponent’s decision-making and make it succumb to the aggressor’s will. The time-tested tactic in this regard has been to reach and manipulate the thought process of an adversary’s population so that they sway the response process on their own. With the arrival of Fifth Generation tactics, kinetic attacks are no longer necessary to break the will of the enemy population. The enemy can now simply be made to submit to an aggressor’s will, without firing a single bullet (let alone losing two fighter aircrafts) by breaking the morale of its forces through propaganda weapons when you can’t with regular ones.

The people of Pakistan need to understand these hybrid dynamics of warfare and must also ensure a swift response on this front by putting their complete trust in the country’s defense institutions.

 

Aneeqa Safdar is a Researcher at the Centre for Aerospace & Security Studies (CASS).  The article was first published in THE NATION. She can be reached at cass.thinkers@gmail.com