Is Pakistan ready to fight the Fifth Generation Warfare?

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Generation Warfare

Javaria Khalid |

Technology has transformed over the years and has evolved the war waging apparatus along with the nature of fighting the war. According to Qiao Liang and Wang Xiangsui, the new principles of war are no longer in “using armed force to compel the enemy to submit to one’s will,” but rather in “using all means, including armed force or non-armed force, military and non-military, and lethal and non-lethal means to compel the enemy to accept one’s interests.” In this technologically advanced world, our enemies learn and adjust their tactics to fight a war and to get the upper hand, we are required to do the same or else we lose.

The first three generations of warfare mainly comprised of the progression in military strategy i.e. starting from the line-and-column tactics in the battlefield to the development of modern military strategies such as; blitzkrieg, shock tactics, military swarming and decapitation strikes etc. The fourth generation of warfare, however, brought a radical change in the history of warfare as in it the state lost its monopoly on war due to the emergence of non-state adversaries. Grounded on ideology or religious factors, this is a highly sophisticated psychological war, not based on targeting the military of a state but rather targeting its society by utilizing modern-day technology.

Having a shift in organization, strategy and contestants, the 4th generation of warfare has turned into a much more complicated era, where the boundary of enemies have become indistinct. The 5th generation of warfare also known as hybrid war, is intended to exploit the liabilities of a state through political, military, economic, social, informational and infrastructure (PMESII) continuum. In simple terms, it is more of a multi-domain battle acting against a state’s land, sea, air, space and cyber zone by the adversaries even without having clear political objectives.

In regions like the Middle East, South Asia and Africa, chances of getting into 5th generation warfare are higher due to poverty, social, political prejudices and economic deprivation. As of Pakistan, which is facing both internal and external threats, further on mingled with social, political, economic dispossession within the country, is correspondingly exposed to fifth generation war driven by the intra-state masses. Intensification in poverty, political injustice, ethnic rifts and religious intolerance has supplemented the fifth-generation warfare, foisted not only by the deprived classes but also by the non-state actors. The country is facing ferocity against the prominent pillars of the state such as; government, Law Enforcing Agencies, public and private sectors, communication infrastructure etc. causing a decrease in development.

In order to counter a threat, we must identify it first. Firstly, the abundance of natural resources and geographical proximity of Pakistan to conflict zones has made it prone to the threats and challenges it faces. On one hand, the leverages Pakistan has, provides it an opportunity to maintain healthy relations and enhance trade ties with the Middle Eastern, Central Asian countries as well as with major powers such as US, China and Russia. However, on the other hand, due to above-mentioned privileges, the country is also facing challenges as global and regional powers constantly meddles in the internal affairs of the country. China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) offers a silver-lining but the fifth-generation war imposed on the country by unfavorable hostile actors constantly threatensthe progress of the country.

Secondly, due to unemployment, pitiable health and education and lack of justice in various parts of the country namely Gilgit-Baltistan, Baluchistan, rural parts of Sindh and KPK has spawned despair that boils into anger and results in hate speech against the state as whole. Ethnic clashes and religious extremism add fuel to the fire. This contemptible situation is more often exploited by both internal and external adversaries.

For example, India, to be mentioned, has actively participated in breeding 5th GW inside Pakistan directly and through proxies. As part of their campaign, India has spent nearly 7 billion rupees with aim to divide the country on multiple grounds by utilizing all means from funding NGO’s to creating a gigantic network of journalists and authors who spread their propaganda. Additionally, they have launched Urdu and Balochi multimedia websites and established radio station and broadcasting channel in Baluchistan and Peshawar, managed by their own senior intelligence officers, to incite violence and invoke the Baloch and Pashtun community to stand up against their own country [3]. They have also used social media as a tool to amplify the gap among ethnicities, religious sects, and political groups and fired up civil-military tensions. Israel is also functioning side-by-side. It is pursuing a media and psychological war through internet-based disinformation. Translations of various Hebrew magazines and articles are being published regarding the vulnerability of nuclear assets of Pakistan falling into the hands of terrorists such as Al-Qaeda and TTP which has created a dichotomy among the general public .

Another aspect of 5th GW is cyber war. As our lives today revolve around the internet, online marketing and digital networking, the same elements are being used as a tool to steal a person’s identity, commit fraud and violate privacy. On the same lines, cyber-attacks aim to dismantle high profile websites, disrupt indispensable services, steal confidential data from government websites and cripple the financial systems of the state. Last year, Indian hackers made an attempt to hack the Karachi International Airport’s as well as the Multan, Islamabad and Peshawar airports’ websites. Prior to that, they released the details of Pakistan army officials, and infected government systems and locked the computer data making it inaccessible to recover. To prevent such cases, Pakistan does have cyber-crime laws but unfortunately, they are not being implemented successfully. Moreover, there is also a lack of awareness among the public of how to protect their personal data online, making it even more difficult to control the cyber-attacks in the country.

Certainly, the above-mentioned situation does validate that Pakistan is in the middle of a 5th generation warfare which can only be won if essential measures are taken to deal with it. Few actions can be taken in this regard as follows;

The first and foremost task is to generate awareness among the public of how to protect their personal data from being stolen. Kevin Mitnik, in his book ‘the art of intrusion’ explained how most of the time, people mistakenly hands over their basic personal information over the phone and electronically, without realizing that the information can be used against them. It is important to arrange seminars and workshops by the government and cyber-crime officials to teach people the landscape of internet in Pakistan and what necessary measures they should take to protect themselves from digital scams.

Strict legal actions should be taken against those convicted of cyber-crimes in Pakistan. The government needs to bring reforms in National Cyber-crime Department, so that during emergency situations, rapid response and recovery of attacked assets can be assured.

Clause 9,11,13,14 and 18 of the National Action Plan needs to be implemented immediately and effectively that deals with the system of check and balance on electronic and print media as well as on religious seminaries promoting extremism and sectarianism. It is time to call off bluff of the religious clerics who are exploiting faith of innocent people to achieve their own agendas.

Advancement in the national strategy needs to take place as the trends in warfare are continuously evolving. The Defense Cabinet Committee and National Security Council of Pakistan should develop effective mechanisms to get rapid and constant feedbacks from state-owned research institutes to ensure the security of the state in the long-run.

Government needs to bring economic reforms and ensure continuous supply of basic needs to its citizens such as food and energy. The economic structure of Pakistan must be strong enough to survive through global recessions, natural disasters and enemy maneuvers. Defense Cabinet Committee and National Security Council should form policies to handle tough situations.

Reforms in media policy are eminent. No television channel and radio station should be allowed to promote Indian culture as it has a deep influence of the society as whole. Under the name of ‘freedom of expression,’ many news channels and journalists are promoting hatred and Indian schemes, harsh action should be taken against them. PEMRA should create a system of strict check and balance. And the government must take effective and practical measures to create jobs, improve health and education in the country.

And last but not least, government should bring forward the Baloch and Pashtun community and involve them in state affairs. Like people from other provinces of Pakistan, they also need to equally participate in the developmental projects as they are no less than others. Being the citizen of Pakistan, each and every community must realize that a ‘United Pakistan’ is in the interest of all.

This article was first published in Startegic Analysis Forum.