Navigating the Complexities of Hybrid Warfare


Dr. Zeeshan Haider

If we study hybrid warfare through the lens of strategic studies, it is one of the modern shapes of unconventional warfare; a collection of various kinetic and non-kinetic, strategic and tactical methods and manoeuvers to dent the enemy. Most of the modern writers and strategists are of the view that hybrid warfare is a new kind of war but the fact of the matter is that there is almost nothing new in it. Yes, these new combinations are more integrated, more effective, and result-oriented as compared to the past modes of warfare. That’s the reason why combinations of these methods have become known as a hybrid. There are divergent methodologies to wage war through hybrid methods with war zones decentralized and options wide open not only in the use of tactics but also in the selection of targets. The effects of hybrid warfare on the enemy are not only physical but also psychological, economic, diplomatic, and political. According to Frank Hofman, we can define the term ‘hybrid warfare’ as “Hybrid wars can be waged by states or political groups, and incorporate a range of different modes of warfare including conventional capabilities, irregular tactics, and formation, terrorist acts, including indiscriminate violence and coercion and criminal disorder.”
The term was first used in 2020 by William J. Nemeth. But, Nemeth confused it with Guerrilla warfare. If we talk theoretically, the massive proliferation of modern technology through globalization has played a crucial role in increased complexities in the contemporary dynamics of global politics at all levels. Through hybrid war, all the possible tactics and methods are exploited to achieve national security interests and to inflict maximum damage to the opponents without any formal declaration of war and also without any moral or just war consideration. Also, this type of conflict has blurred the lines of war and peace and the distinction between enemies and friends, state and not state actors have eroded.
Deception, misinformation, lies, blackmailing, treachery, and all such vile practices are among the tactical options of hybrid warfare that can be employed to achieve a state’s interests implying that nothing is actually permanent in the global arena except interests. These all indicators lead us to, besides theories of unconventional conflict, the theory of Realism in International Relations that primarily focuses on stat’s core interests.
Nowadays, digitalized world, disinformation, fake news, and propaganda are powerful weapons of hybrid war. Some tools like Abuse of information, narrative building, interdependency, social media, hacking, and cyber bullies are used by opponent groups to disrupt the peaceful fabric of any state.
A nation is on the verge of decline if its various groups cease to give the impression of commonality in identity, national history, interests, vision, and goals. Through a hybrid style of warfare, enemy attacks on the fault lines to damage this commonness. If this bond is weakened, the sense of commonality on the base of religion, nationhood or any other factor is depreciated. The common culture of the nation becomes elusive. As a consequence, the shadows of strategic instability, and the threats to national security and integrity start looming over that nation without even a single bullet fired by the enemy.
For example, Russia is playing hybrid tactics against US and India is playing against Pakistan, North Korea is against South Korea.
The separation of EAST PAKISTAN was also the result of Indian hybrid warfare by which it prepared an unconventional battlefield in 1971. The proofs are noticed from the writings of Ashoka Raina an independent Indian journalist.
Currently, According to Pakistan’s point of view, India is fully busy and engaged in a massive campaign of fifth-generation warfare to obstruct Pakistan’s road to prosperity mainly through targeting the China- Pakistan Economics Corridor, and the internal image of Pakistan. India is trying to portray the image of Pakistan as a hardliner Muslim country. Recently, the Indian foreign minister J. Shankar answered in a very undiplomatic way about Pakistan on the floor of SCO in India. He must also be well-known about an Indian terrorist Kulbushan Yadav, who is a top military officer of India and was caught red-handed in Balochistan in 2016 to spread hybrid propaganda. Disinfo Laboratory of India has also been exposed by the Europeans Union, which was busy spreading propaganda against Pakistan and China through over 755 fake media outlets. Pakistan has handed over many dossiers containing pieces of evidence of India’s machination and subverting actions against Pakistan but Indian authorities have paid no heed to it.
Unfortunately, in this warfare, Artificial Intelligence (AI) has also been involved in this non-conventional warfare. Cyber-attacks, hacking, and bullying would be common practices now to onward for secrets theft. Indians are much more cunning to utilize it in damaging Pakistan. AI is the biggest threat regarding technology to less developed countries. Pakistan is far behind in developing proper plans and procedures to promote technology to compete in the global arena. Its government is still busy destroying the employment of freelancers by shutting down internet connections to victimize opponents. From 9th May 2023 to 12th May 2023, it is estimated that more than 15 billion rupee loss has been faced by online earners like In Drive, Uber and Cream captains and Food Panda workers, etc.
Anyway, only armed forces are not enough to fight this bitter threat of non-directional warfare, but we need a united, collective national effort from all fronts, including all sectors of society especially opinion leaders like Media anchors, professors, and politicians, to thwart these amorphous threats to our national security and integrity.
MAY Almighty protect our beautiful homeland. Give us unity and strength. Shine us. Guide our rulers rightly to develop this nation on modern grounds to come up with all types of challenges. Elahi Ameen!