I don’t normally elaborate on topics related to politics and refrain from typical political biases because my main interest revolves around strategic subjects about how Pakistan can be self-sufficient and be able to represent itself as a powerful Islamic welfare state in the comity of nations. Having said that if there are events that are happening one after another targeting Pakistan army’s Unity of Command, I cannot sit idle but will elaborate upon the importance of Unity of Command and will definitely be behind our armed forces and establishment in order to protect the greater interest of Pakistan.
This article is quite significant under the current ongoing chaotic political situation in Pakistan and also in terms of the region, specifically in light of the Russia-Ukraine war as this war is impacting many countries and our region in terms of geo-economics. The Russia- Ukraine war is a lesson in many ways. If Ukraine would be a nuclear power, this war never would have been waged in the first place. The other factor is keeping a nation’s armed forces strong with no reliance on foreign military aide in times of need, this is the domain in which Ukraine failed by relying on western promises of support and guarantees for sovereignty. No one would really come to support in difficult times rather that nation will be vulnerable if the armed forces of that nation are not strong enough to meet unavoidable challenges like foreign invasion and 5th generation proxies.
This Russia-Ukraine war is a huge eye opener for Pakistan to be learnt from and thanks to the Almighty that Pakistan has a strong deterrence and has a strong military establishment. However, now a new form of 5th generation warfare has been initiated after many lessons learnt from enemies of Pakistan, like how successful the Pakistan Army has been countering of TTP proxies in SWAT and FATA and nullifying Indian proxies in Balochistan and Karachi. This failure of enemies’ model plan against Pakistan to weaken it or disintegrate it by 2015 gave a new form of approach, that is, targeting Pakistan’s strong military establishment and try to shake its Unity of Command.
There is a complete lecture on Pakistan Army’s Unity of Command from a British thinktank, Anatol Lieven, who lectured at Sydney with an Australian institute 8 or 9 years ago that suggested if the Pakistan Army as an institution would fall, the country will disintegrate pretty quickly. He described that process in his book “Pakistan: A Hard Country”. This is now the prime target by external forces to create such Icons, populous political forces that could challenge the unity of Command of Pakistan Army. Of course, this task has to be done diligently and utilizing the popular sentiments of common people.
The key point of 5th generation warfare is to utilize the flow of popular sentiments that could potentially be brought well within various sections of population. For example, in the 80’s era the MQM movement utilized popular sentiments of the quota system, division of urban and rural resources. etc. The famous SWAT TTP insurgency used Shariah law as the basis of their struggle and FATA based TTP used Pakistan’s involvement in the war on terror and collateral damage from drone attacks as an excuse. Currently the social media are being used to target Pakistan army’s Unity of Command, this cannot be tolerated at any cost. The collaborators of such campaign are mostly from the young generation that know nothing about the history of the country and related provincial sensitivities. The main purpose of such campaign is to weaken the country’s soft image, infrastructure, and economy. Unfortunately, many social media trolls from hostile nations are helping in this vicious campaign.
In the past decade the hostile nations and their agencies had failed badly in waging proxy wars on Pakistan under the TTP and BLA shadow, but the Pakistan Army was able to handle this huge challenge with its might and Unity of Command. Normally, to achieve such objective, hostile powers use many means and maneuvers to execute their vicious plans like igniting religious or ethnic sentiments that are usually mishandled by government officials, conflicting media reporting to create chaos, elaborate negative imaging to harm the economy, widen the socio-ethnic differences between country’s population and currently political anarchy under the corruption slogan is being used – this seems to be a new type of model being tried.
In parallel, Pakistan is facing another challenge that is handling opposition to CPEC. This great project serves no interest of certain hostile powers; rather it gives a unique boost to China’s and Pakistan’s economy. The last year’s terror attack at the Quetta Serena Hotel also clearly indicates the enemy plans against China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and seems a desperate but organized attempt to disturb the Pakistan-China relations. This desperation from our enemies, especially India, is obvious due to many reasons in addition to the CPEC and these are the kicking of India from the Chahbahar project, Iran- China mega economic deal for the next 25 years and kicking out India from Afghanistan.
The vicious network that India created around Pakistan for encirclement is fading away for the most part due to the Iran-China mega economic deal. The UAE and Saudis also realized the importance of Pakistan as a strategic balancer and ties are now improving. We have to keep in mind that a successful foreign policy revolves around the country’s military power, strong socio-economics and strategic positioning. Tilting towards a bloc will not serve any better rather try to leverage both power pole in terms of bi-lateral relations and trade.
In order to meet the enormous challenges coming from 5th Generation social media proxies, as I elaborated earlier, we must adopt certain measures that could minimize the harmful impact of such lethal social media campaign against unit of command.
A sharp awareness campaign must be initiated to let the Pakistani nation know about the lethality of 5th Generation warfare. This warfare had been lately used for destroying Libya, Iraq, Syria and Yemen along with some pieces taken from the Yugoslavian model. In this warfare, a multi-pronged approach is used to destabilize a country with help from various forms of media, igniting regional and internal disputes, utilizing internal overt and covert proxies like the BLA, TTP, religious sectarian groups and any sort of popular movement that targets a country’s Unity of Command. It is essential to counter and keep a close eye on such media anchors and social media outfits who ignite the situation by frequently switching their versions. Please note that the media groups and media personnel are one of the key tools being used in such type of warfare. We must use counter-narrative groups for handling any anti-Pakistan and anti-military trend in social media. No harmful trend should be allowed to be transmitted or spread negative image under any external agenda. The intelligence networks need more resources (state of the art technology tools) and rigorous training keeping in mind various internal and external fronts. It includes all levels of resources starting from additional resources for defence agencies to civil law enforcement agencies, so we need to develop counter capabilities of civil law enforcement agencies quickly for handling of riots and aggressive Intelligence Based Operations (IBOs) must be continued on long term basis. IBOs are proving to be extremely effective and must be extended to all other domains wherever necessary.
The police is not yet designed to handle hybrid warfare, so it is necessary to setup training for the overall police structure in Pakistan on how to handle this lethal warfare. ISPR can play a vital role in this domain. Moreover, retired army personnel and/or ‘bubble assignments’ from the army can be extended to police for establishing such arrangements to create an organized culture amongst police structure.
The people of Pakistan must be vigilant against any such elements who can ignite any situation. The government and ISPR should set up a strategy on how to activate counter social media groups against 5th Gen proxies. It seems that organized trends are being developed to show negative image of the country that impacts badly on multiple areas and dimensions. These organized groups are already set in place by hostile agencies as part of their hybrid warfare through social media propaganda and the only way to counter them is to establish/setup equal response via organized social media groups that can elaborate Pakistan’s rationale narrative.
In conclusion, I must elaborate that any movement that targets or tries to target Pakistan’s Army and its Unity of Command must be dealt with an iron hand, a strong counternarrative must be adopted with strict measures alongwith political maneuvering. This is a new type of approach adopted by hostile nations when their plans failed in SWAT and the erstwhile FATA and the Pakistan Army successfully repelled their proxies.
Pakistan is the only country that has fought foreign imposed lethal hybrid warfare in the past couple of decades and suffered tremendous monetary and physical losses yet emerged victorious while many countries have been destroyed by such warfare tactics. This could only be possible due to the unshaken bondage between the people of Pakistan and our security establishment and intelligence institutions. This bondage between must not be allowed to be sabotaged by social media trolls and by any political movement using catchy slogans which are usually created to cash in on political sentiments, our young generation is yet unaware of such tactics; they may be misguided and they can be used as trolls through a well-planned agenda, so the best way is to track and stop such detracted social media trolls.
Whoever tries to instigate disturbance amongst the rank and file of the Pakistan Army and Pakistan’s security establishment must be dealt with an iron hand and dealt with accordingly. The Pakistan Army is a highly organized and established institution that has the huge responsibility of safeguarding the motherland, so all patriots must stand firm behind Pakistan military establishment. I am also hoping for political harmony in Pakistan because this is the only way forward along with agreement on a minimum agenda and that must involve a greater consensus on improving Pakistan’s economy.
The article seems biased for Pakistani military establishment due to comparison between Ukraine and Pakistan in terms of military might and nuclear power. Ukraine’s dependence on west and west left Ukaraine in difficult times because Ukaraine was not atomic power and pakistan is an atomic power and faced challenges like terrorism.
Although we faced challenges but fought a battle of common interests of west, on the other hand but a full fledged war was waged on Ukraine by one of the strongest armies. Had there been interference by west, there would have been all the chances of 3rd world war.
The author talked very less on the subject, describing already known common facts, rest 80% were challenges and achievements and countering terrorism by armed forces.
The recommendations given in the article are good but in this new war involving social media, there are limits to what governments and law enforcement agencies can do. This becomes more serious for countries like ours who still haven’t signed an MLAT with the social media giants like Twitter, Facebook and Youtube. The Russian people for example, can never revolt against their military or the government because the Russian government has these social media giants by the horns through a governmental organisation called Roskomnadzor which keeps slamming them with so many law suits that they cannot even think of supporting an anti government movement in the country.
An overall good article however strategic/global threats to Pakistan should have been discussed elaborately which should give a broader threat mosaic. Recommendations are good, police, Law Enforcement agencies and tri services and government organizations shall be professionally trained and equipped to counter the threat. Strong investment by technology experts specifically in information and AI domain required today to counter future threats.