July 30, 2018
Yasir Malik |
War has been a recurring feature of international politics since the very emergence of the nation-state system in the 17th century. However, the nature of warfare apparatus and techniques varies at different times in different terrains. Over the years, this realization has been deeply witnessed within the military and strategic circles that waging war solely with the conventional military apparatus is not only costly but also puts a heavy human toll along with unquantifiable collateral damage on the aggressor itself.
Although, transformations in military technologies emphasize more on conventional and nuclear capabilities to ensure security and pursue national interests but strategically, this is less tactful in many cases, not enough to subservient an enemy’s relative capabilities. The induction of lethal and invincible nuclear weapons in the inventory is something which provides a sense of superiority over the adversary but, largely, it employs for deterrent purposes against any type of aggressive designs. Thus, to gain long-term and significant accomplishments against the adversary, hybrid strategy enters as a pragmatic shift in the strategic thinking of warfare.
Political community, particularly, needs to be a part of the inclusive patterns of engagement setting aside partisan politics to combat the intricate effects of hybrid warfare.
Hybrid warfare is a blend of conventional and irregular war fighting techniques along with employing other non-kinetic means to undermine an enemy’s strength. This type of warfare is more catastrophic in essence as it pervades into multifaceted frontiers of enemy’s territory; psychologically undermining its decision making capabilities, systematically crippling its financial and information networks using cyber technology, economic strangulation via coercive economic diplomacy and leveraging its influence over international actors and institutions and meanwhile, developing and maintaining a robust defence posture.
When non-kinetic options of this hybrid strategy come into play, it cripples state’s ability to take decisions in adverse circumstances and to perform in vulnerable conditions. Since India’s consistent failures in the successful materialization of its warfighting strategy “Cold Start Doctrine” with Pakistan’s development of tactical nuclear weapons and other counter-measures, India has been actively pursuing its hybrid warfare strategy, the manifestation of which is evident in a series of events between India and Pakistan over the years.
India’s diplomatic manoeuvring against Pakistan at various international foras, continued ceasefire violations at LOC and working boundary, New Delhi’s subversive political moves in Kabul, stoking and financing insurgency inside Pakistani territory as well as using its political clout to put restrictions over Pakistan and branding it as a sponsor of terrorism in the region; these indications vividly elucidate the looming threat of Indian hybrid strategy.
In order to cope up with this gigantic and evolving challenge, there is a need to develop cohesive and imprudent strategies before any escalation of the threat environment. First and foremost, it is imperative to overcome the economic constraints of the country. Since economy is interlinked with security, thus to develop, procure and install sophisticated weaponry in the inventory, you need financial resources in the exchequer. Parallel to this, to modernize and upgrade the arsenals, force mobilization and to develop a robust force posture; it all depends upon a robust economy.
The induction of lethal and invincible nuclear weapons in the inventory is something which provides a sense of superiority over the adversary but, largely, it employs for deterrent purposes against any type of aggressive designs.
Not only on the conventional frontier but also to counter cyber threats and other coercive diplomatic arrangements, economy remains a trump card to combat hybrid warfare. Besides, cyber attacks which is one of the elements of hybrid war strategy need to be intercepted vigilantly. The IT and high tech software professionals should be recruited, inducted and posted aiming to dismantle high profile websites hijacking, prevent the disruption of indispensable services, and to defend financial system of the states against any potential risks.
Side by side, strict legal actions must be implemented to cover all loopholes within the system. Public awareness is quintessential to eradicate the scathing effects of hybrid warfare. Unless the public makes sense to the adversarial designs to their integrity and identity, and the will of the people is not adaptive to resilience, intangible outcomes would not surface.
Further, the role of media should be utilized in the national interest rather a tool for inflicting a myriad of woes within the state. PEMRA, the authorized body, should keep a check on the functioning apparatus of the media industry. The exploitation of information, branding of MNCs products, sensational tactics, use of blockbuster to influence the minds of public and above all, the role of media as a business industry should be curtailed or remoulded into a national weapon.
The projection of events, news stories, and drama industry must be reoriented in a way as to revamp the tarnished image of the country. On the educational frontier, revising and revamping the outdated curriculum of education must be done within no time to oust the remnants of the colonial legacy. Teaching strategies and training mechanisms in the educational institutes ought to be re-designed in such a way that it not only produces prolific human capital but also inculcate a sense of nationalism as well as raise the decency level of the future generations.
The literacy of the country must act as a balm to aching wounds of the country’s polarization. Similarly, deprivation of underprivileged areas and populace need to be complemented by taking certain reformative and compensatory initiatives. This is one of the loopholes where the enemy can easily ingress and exploit its ambitions.
India’s diplomatic manoeuvring against Pakistan at various international foras, continued ceasefire violations at LOC and working boundary, New Delhi’s subversive political moves in Kabul.
At the global front, there is an urgent necessity to revamp our foreign policy and hold an inescapable importance in the emerging global strategic calculus. In pursuit of this desire, we need to re-align our interests with great powers and compensate for the divergence of interests with big economies. The country is also required to exploit its untapped natural resources potential and maximize the advantages from its geo-strategic location.
Last but not the least, a holistic security strategy needs to be devised with a synchronized framework of action from all the relevant stakes. While devising the modus operandi against perceived threats; policy inputs from the intelligentsia, academia, politicians, and strategists must be incorporated along with security and law enforcement arrangements. Enhancing enforcement capacity for achieving efficiency is a sine qua non in this context.
To put in a nutshell, there is a dire need to realize the spectrum of the threat at the earliest and thence, mobilize efforts to counteract against all kinds of perceived challenges. This ultra-security challenge must be on the top policy agenda; casting aside heated political environment and scattered attention in the country. Political community, particularly, needs to be a part of the inclusive patterns of engagement setting aside partisan politics to combat the intricate effects of hybrid warfare.
Yasir Malik is Research Fellow at South Asian Strategic Stability Institute, Islamabad. He writes for various local and international websites regularly. The views expressed in this article are author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.