In the present time, unconventional means to conduct war against the adversary have gained strategic importance as it is not only limited to military confrontation. The saying by Clausewitz, “The nature of war remains the same, only its character changes” continues to be relevant even today. Hybrid warfare incorporates social, political, economic, and psychological domains. In this manner, fake news propaganda and abetting terrorism along with conventional power are key tools to achieve the political goals using hybrid warfare. Along the same lines, the prime focus is to take maximum advantage of the enemy’s vulnerabilities. Besides this, the goal is to accomplish a gradual win by breaking the will of the adversary and exploitation of different tiers of society for one’s goals.

Since 1947, Pakistan and India have fought multiple wars against each other. However, the introduction of nuclear weapons in the equation brought upon a strategic shift in South Asia, particularly in the case of India and Pakistan. The character of warfare subsequently changed from direct military confrontation to insurgency, proxies, sabotage, and irregular warfare. Pakistan and India are in a constant state of undeclared warfighting with unconventional means like hybrid warfare. In recent times, India has accelerated its grave attempts to destabilise Pakistan and is utilizing the hybrid domain to potentially create chaos and peddle anarchy inside Pakistan.

Under this program, the Indian government, intelligence apparatus and media are targeting each and every component of the State of Pakistan. First, this hybrid warfare has ramifications for Pakistan’s fragile economy. Time and again, Indian mainstream and digital media has spread fake news regarding the blacklisting of Pakistan in FATF. Later, it was clarified by Foreign Ministry that,” FATF has not placed Pakistan on the blacklist.” However, these blatant lies created uncertainty in the domestic market, have negative impacts on Pakistan’s stock exchange and have badly affected the exchange rate of the rupee against the dollar which further resulted in more pressure on Pakistan’s already suffering weak economy. This fake news is an example that has cost billions to Pakistan. India is also targeting CPEC and spreading disinformation about the mega-project. The Chinese investments are compared with British East India Company to manipulate domestic narratives against this flagship project of BRI.

Moreover, during the TLP protests of 2021, Pakistani authorities have unfolded an organized misinformation campaign run by India to cause civil unrest and chaos within Pakistan. There was an established network that was working from Indian cities and even, mobile numbers of Indian origin were caught by Pakistan’ intelligence services that were promoting and fuelling TLP protestors to riot against the state. Fake videos of revolt within the army were incorporated in cyberspace particularly on twitter handles to depict that there is a civil war going on inside Pakistan. However, India is following the Breitbart doctrine to break the socio-economic fabric of Pakistan.

Pakistan is an ethnically diverse country, and it hosts almost 70 different ethnic groups. Therefore, it is not a difficult task for an enemy to advocate and promote ethno-nationalism. India is following this principle by using its interest groups to generate instability in different areas of Pakistan. Balochistan is on India’s propaganda priority list due to its key geographic location. The people of Balochistan are economically and socially backward as compared to other provinces due to lack of attention and bad governance. The Baloch people are more prone to the Indian propaganda. Henceforth, this has resulted in marginalisation within Balochistan. The inequality in Balochistan has given birth to BLA which is a tool used by Pakistan’s enemies to weaken it internally. India is a supplier of military equipment and funding to this terrorist organisation. In this regard, India is running a well organised campaign of Free Balochistan and has granted asylums to Baloch dissidents. Additionally, India conducts conferences and seminars where international scholars and diplomats are invited with an agenda on so called Pakistan’s barbarity and genocide in Balochistan. It is not strenuous to create doubts and misconceptions about CPEC within the local population as Balochistan was continuously ignored in the past. The economic benefit of Baloch people from China Pakistan Economic Corridor can easily be questioned and transpired against Pakistan in the contemporary scenario.

On the other hand, India is a supporter, facilitator, and fund provider of PTM. The same propaganda instruments are utilized against the state of Pakistan to promote Pashtun nationalism. This is an extension of Indian broader strategy to create polarisation in Pakistan. Keeping in view the ramifications of the year’s long violence in tribal areas, India is exploiting local vulnerabilities to tear down the socio-economic cohesion in Pakistan. According to DG ISPR, “PTM received funds from RAW in February 2018, and on 22nd March 2018 to stage countrywide protests to release PTM activists”.

Interestingly, the European disinformation lab has unearthed a substantial nexus of counterfeit Indian media channels in 2020 which have been working against Pakistan’s national interest since 2005. This network was established with a purpose to “discredit Pakistan internationally”. This network had its operations in sixty-five countries to manipulate and camouflage information against Pakistan to damage its position and credibility on the international level. This network was also actively promoting anti-Pakistan sentiments inside India.

It is climacteric that India is using multiple tactics and is waging multidimensional warfare against Pakistan. Alarmingly, the scale of this hybrid warfare is beyond the imagination of ordinary Pakistani citizens who are the main prey of this hybrid war. The above cases indicated the complexities and intricacy of this subversive enterprise. There is enough credible evidence that India’s campaign has gained supplementary momentum in recent years and is gaining strength with each passing day. Henceforth, there is a dire need on the Pakistani side to come with a counterstrategy to combat this new Indian warfare. It is pertinent for Pakistani government and intelligentsia to work on cyber mechanisms to make them stronger and to eliminate the chances of their exploitation by Pakistan’s nemesis. Along with that, political leaders and media can encourage national cohesion which will play a key role in countering this disinformation, misinformation, and foreign plotted agenda. Last but not the least, economic prosperity and progress will also eradicate the grievances and vulnerabilities of Pakistan’s domestic audience which will help to reduce their chances of exploitation by Pakistan’s arch enemy.

Published in Global Affairs September 2022 Edition

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Mohsin Ashfaq

Written by Mohsin Ashfaq

Mohsin Ashfaq is an intern at Global Affairs. He is currently pursuing his Bachelors in Strategic Studies from National Defence University Islamabad.

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