Hybrid Warfare and its Impacts on Pakistan

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Bibliographic Information
Journal Grassroots
Title Hybrid Warfare and its Impacts on Pakistan
Author(s) Sadiq, Muhammad, Imran Ali Noonari, Inayatullah Bhatti
Volume 54
Issue 2
Year 2020
Pages -
Full Text Crystal Clear mimetype pdf.png
URL Link
Keywords Modern Warfare, Hybrid Warfare, South Asia, India and Pakistan, Options for Pakistan
Chicago 16th Sadiq, Muhammad, Imran Ali Noonari, Inayatullah Bhatti. "Hybrid Warfare and its Impacts on Pakistan." Grassroots 54, no. 2 (2020).
APA 6th Sadiq, M., Noonari, I. A., Bhatti, I. (2020). Hybrid Warfare and its Impacts on Pakistan. Grassroots, 54(2).
MHRA Sadiq, Muhammad, Imran Ali Noonari, Inayatullah Bhatti. 2020. 'Hybrid Warfare and its Impacts on Pakistan', Grassroots, 54.
MLA Sadiq, Muhammad, Imran Ali Noonari, Inayatullah Bhatti. "Hybrid Warfare and its Impacts on Pakistan." Grassroots 54.2 (2020). Print.
Harvard SADIQ, M., NOONARI, I. A., BHATTI, I. 2020. Hybrid Warfare and its Impacts on Pakistan. Grassroots, 54.


In modern times, the conventional means of warfare are increasingly becoming less usable. However, the states are involved in waging hybrid warfare to the maximum to fulfill their foreign policy goals. In nuclearized South Asia, direct war between India and Pakistan seems unlikely given that both the states know that escalation could lead to nuclear catastrophe in the region. This compels both the states to find other means of warfare to undermine each other’s interests. India wants to weaken Pakistan so that it may abandon claim on Indian occupied Jammu and Kashmir. For that, India is using all tools of hybrid warfare against Pakistan. In this context, this paper aims at to unearth India’s hybrid warfare in the region and its implications for Pakistan. The main focus of the paper is to explain tools and methods of India hybrid warfare. At the same time the research also tries to unravel few other case studies. It also notes how Pakistan can counter hybrid threats posed by its arch rival.


War is inevitable and unavoidable in every era of human history, however, the practice, means and methods of warfare have transformed. In the 21st century, states have adopted indirect methods and techniques to target their opponents. Globalization, technological advancements and knowledge have transformed contemporary world. Changes in technology transformed definition, concept, conduct, means and tactics of modern warfare.

In contemporary global politics, hybrid warfare is regarded as a major threat to national security. Hybrid Warfare (HW) involves military strategy, political campaign, diplomacy, propaganda, proxy, deception, psychological, cryptographic, conventional warfare, economic, cyber warfare, and electoral intervention. It aims at wearing down enemy’s moral. HW involves different, unequal, imbalanced and uneven strategies, and resources of actors in waging war against belligerents. Conduct of war through aforementioned indirect approach is known as the concept of ‘Hybrid Warfare’ (HW). It blurs the strategies, methods and means of war fighting.

Hybrid wars were launched by weak states to thwart powerful states from waging wars. In nuclear era full-scale war is out of question. Conversely, powerful states are employing HW against weak states to achieve politico-military objectives. Pakistan in post 9/11 era has become victim of HW. General Qamar Javaid Bajwa while addressing the passing-out parade of cadets at the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul: “Our enemies know that they cannot beat us fair and square and have thus subjected us to a cruel, evil and protracted hybrid war. They are trying to weaken our resolve by weakening us from within” (Dawn, April 15, 2018).


HW is a confused and vague concept, there is no universal and generalized accepted or agreed definition. There are multiple definitions of the concept by different scholars, defense and security strategists and military organizations. According to Merriam-Webster (2019) dictionary, the meaning of the word ‘hybrid’ “something heterogeneous in origin or composition” ( and Collin dictionary defined hybrid warfare “a military strategy in which conventional warfare is integrated with tactics such as covert operations and cyber-attacks” (Collins, n.d.). There are different scholars with their different views, some scholars think, hybrid warfare is observed as contemporary conflicts that dictate regular military how to fight upcoming wars and other observed that the modern armed forces are unable against hybrid or related type of war adversaries due to their organizational structure.

According to Frank G. Hoffman (2016) who is one of the prominent founder of the concept of hybrid warfare as “any adversary that simultaneously and adaptively employs a fused mix of conventional weapons, irregular tactics, terrorism, and criminal activities in the battle space to obtain their political objectives” In this definition, Hoffman point out four major features and principles: conventional weapons, irregular tactics, terrorism, and criminal activities, in which each of these characteristics has a broader or wide range of influence. In this definition, there is a central and common characteristic of HW, that is, the convergence or the combination of different means such as a mixture of civilian and combatant, physical and psychological sources, violence and nation-building etc.

Russel W. Glenn (2009) definition of HW is “when an adversary that simultaneously and adaptively employs some combination of (1) political, military, economic, social, and information means, and (2) conventional, irregular, catastrophic, terrorism, and disruptive/criminal warfare methods. It may include a combination of state and non-state actors” (Tienhoven, 2016). The first part of the definition is quite like Hoffman but in the secondpart, there are some differences such as ‘catastrophic element and non-military means.

John J. McCuendefined HW as “battles are fought on “both physical and conceptual dimensions: the former a struggle against an armed enemy and the latter, a wide struggle for control and support of the combat zone’s indigenous population, the support of the home fronts of the intervening nations, and the support of the international community” (Glenn, 2009).


Historical Development: The history of warfare and conflict is parallel with the history of humankind. When the concept of society, state, and property became a core element of human civilizations, the concept of war emerged as a part of human history. The war came into existence due to a clash of interests, disagreement, misunderstanding on a certain kind of needs and desires. According to the classical realist school of thought, war is inevitable and that is due to human’s warlike nature. Before wars were fought by conventional means and weapons in the battlefields. However, wars have become multidimensional, multifaceted and complex due to changes in time and technology, industrial revolution, scientific developments. Modern warfare contrary to traditional wars is not fought in battlefields instead in mind of people. There are multiple war-related concepts which are being used such as non-kinetic warfare, non-conventional warfare, new generation warfare, nonlinear warfare, cyber warfare, psychological, information and media warfare, and asymmetric warfare. The sum up of these modern concepts of war is known as the Hybrid Warfare.

The real and main issue is not about defining the concept of HW, but the problem is whether the concept of HW is ‘Old’ or ‘New’. The historical development of Hybrid warfare goes back to the writings and strategies of Sun Tzu who was a 5th century Chinese military strategist and philosopher. In his book the Art of War, he wrote that “to win one hundred victories in one hundred battles is not the acme of skill. To subdue the enemy without fighting is the acme of skill” (Sun Tzu, 2010:48). What does it mean to defeat the enemy without fighting? It was the strategies and means of winning the war using propaganda, deception physical and psychological, understanding the enemy’s confidence and moral, using such a kind of tactics one can distrust the morale of enemy’s troops. In the history of warfare, Carl Von Clausewitz (Clausewitz was the 19th century an influential Prussian military strategist and philosopher) was the first war analyst who aids the moral and political aspects of war. In his book On War stated that “war is a mere continuation of politics by other means”. He further stated that “War is a remarkable trinity” which involves hatred and violence, chance and probability, and political deliberations through the interaction of three elements-people, military forces, and governments. These are the elements of war in the 21st century in which some defense analysts suggested the advent of a new kind of war which is known as Hybrid war (Murry & Mansoor, 2012). Clausewitz also stated that the characteristics of war changes in every era, but the concept of war remains war.

At the strategic and operational level, adversaries used irregular force (insurgents, guerrilla, terrorism) against enemies as a tactic during imperialism, World War I and II, and the Cold War (American Ambassador to Moscow George Kennan sent a telegram to US State Department. Kennan wrote that US and Soviet Union have different ideologies and political systems therefore peaceful coexistence is not possible. Kennan believed Soviet Union would expand therefore US should adopt policy of containment) (Kennan, 2009). There are some major examples of Hybrid Warfare such as, in 1778 French empire allied with and supported Americans to counter British and during WWI British Empire used HW against Ottoman Empire, in which Britain supported the Arab uprising which was led by Grand Sharif Hussain and supported by a British captain Lawrence known as the Lawrence of Arabia (Anderson, 2014). Britain used irregular Arab forces against Ottoman troops to gather information about the locations and supply lines of Ottomans. British campaign resulted in defeat of Ottoman troops. During the 2nd Sino-Japanese war (1973-1945) Mao Tse Tung, who became an expert of fraternization of irregular and regular, symmetric and asymmetric force structures to counter the enemy by hybrid warfare. “Hybrid warfare enabled Mao’s forces to gain superiority at critical points in China during the campaigns of 1948–1949, which ended with the ejection of the Nationalists from the mainland to Formosa (Taiwan)” (Anderson, 2014). Mao’s victory in civil war increased and furthered the efficiency of the concept of the HW. During the Cold War, both major player United States of America (USA) and Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) used HW as a strategic and operational strategy against each other.

The Soviet Union struggled and tried to spread its communist ideology around the world and supported several insurgent and guerrilla movements in a different part of the world. In 1919 USSR established “Comintern” or Communist international it was exercised as the foreign policy of Moscow; the main objective of this policy was to promote and spread communism abroad and to support the communist movements. US responded with countermeasures e.g. policy of containment to stop.

On the other hand, USA countermeasures during the Cold War were based on application of HW directed towards Soviets to halt territorial expansion, spread and influence of communism. Under the containment policy, the US devised Marshal Plan (was announced by George C. Marshal in 1948 for the economic recovery of Western Europe devastated by WW-II. US provisioned US $ 15 billion to European allies) and announced Truman Doctrine (US President Harry S. Truman announced that US would provide economic, political and military assistance to states facing internal and external threats from authoritarian forces) through which he supported national liberation/ independence movements politically, militarily, economically. The policy of containment was the combined effort of various steps including diplomatic, economic and military policies. This policy had remained US official foreign policy against the Soviet Union from 1947 to 1989. HW has become a complex and sophisticated concept after the 9/11 due to the emergence of global terrorism, terrorist organizations (Al-Qaeda, ISIS, Hezbollah, etc.) and the war in Iraq, Afghanistan and Arab Spring uprising in the middle east.


Originally the term HW was used after 9/11, due to the emergence of global non-state actors such as Hezbollah, Al-Qaida, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS) Al Shabab, 313 Brigade and their tools and techniques of warfare. Contemporary non-state actors introduced revolutionary operational strategies. Conversely, their strategic thinking challenged and diverted the traditional concept of non-state actors’ strategies. Modern characteristics of HW launched by non-state actors consists of: (1) military complexities and sophistication, (strategies, technologies, modern weapons, command and control, tools and tactics etc.), (2) Expansion of battlefield other than military, (Horizontal escalation, combination of political, informational, propaganda, ideological mobilization, and terrorism).

The contemporary nature of war between states has also become hybrid involving combination of military and nonmilitary means of war. States Hybrid warfare is including their means of power such as: military or conventional, use of soft power, use of institutional and productive power, economy, media, propaganda, state terrorism, myth making and propaganda, information and cyber warfare.


Russia in Ukraine: The ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine started from the annexation of Crimea. In March 2014, there was a referendum held in Crimea in which the people of Crimea voted to join Russian Federation but for Ukraine and other nations of Europe it was an annexation but for Russia, it was a referendum. After that there was an uprising erupted in eastern and southern parts of Ukraine and they demanded independence and these local militias (irregular forces, Guerrilla) were covertly supported by Russian military forces with weapons and equipment’s against Ukrainian forces. Historically, Crimea was part of USSR but in 1954 it was transformed from Russian SSR to Ukraine SSR because that time Ukraine also was a part of Soviet Socialist Republic. But when the Soviet Union disintegrated in 1991, Ukraine got its independence and become an autonomous region. The crisis erupted in 2013, when the president of Ukraine Victor Yanukovych instead of signing a treaty to join European Union (EU) he signed a multi-billion-dollar agreement with Russia. When he refused to sign a treaty with EU, the opposition started Euromaidan peaceful protest on 21 November 2013. Yanukovych authorized use of force and killed dozens of protesters yet he has to leave the country.

After his disappearance the interim government was formed, and Putin called it an “illegal coup”. After a fewdays, the protesters backed by the Russian Federation initially occupied the Parliament and later formed Parliamentary government in Crimea.

The new PM of Crimea demanded Russian assistance to maintain peace and security. Protests and subsequent request endowed Russia to send its masked forces without insignia, to take control of important locations such as airports, administrative buildings, military bases, etc.

The new PM demanded to hold a referendum either to accede to Russia or acquire complete independence. The referendum was held on March 16, 2014,the turnout rate was 83% and 96.7% of the voters voted in favor of acceding to the Russian Federation. In this referendum, international observers were not allowed on 18 March, finally Crimea acceded to Russia. It was HW Russia executed against Ukraine. According to the international community (US, UK, and NATO countries), it was an illegal referendum and it was just an annexation and they levy economic sanctions on the Russian economy.

After, annexation the pro-Russian separatists launched protests in different provinces of Eastern Ukraine (Kuzio & D’Anieri, 2018). “The form of warfare Russia employed in Ukraine in 2014, often called hybrid war, has been aimed at defeating the target country by breaking its ability to resist without actually launching a full-scale military attack” (Racz, 2015). Russia’s interference in the electoral and political process and supporting pro-Russian militia in Ukraine is the political manipulation of Ukrainian pro-western sense. What are the Russian objectives and interest in Crimea? (1) Crimea is located at an important strategic location it is helpful for Russia to reach and access to the BlackSea, Mediterranean and Balkans, (2) Secondly, the BlackSea fleet of the Russian navy is deployed in Sevastopol which is the only warm water port of Russia, (3) thirdly, Crimean ports which are all weather ports and enable Russian trade without any delay, (4) finally, Russia believes NATO and EU is encircling Russian Federation. EU influence on Ukraine increased Russian security dilemma it was considered as a major security threat for Russia.

There are many tools and means through which Moscow is promoting its HW against other countries. Such as, information operations, Russian has influential media and strategic communications through which it shapes and diverts the political narratives in different countries. The major targets of Russian information operations are controlling television (TV), give incentives to European Think Tanks to spread Russian views; besides, the cyber warfare which allows Russia to hack the western information system and countries to accumulate the valuable information. This tool is continuously used by Russia such as in Crimean referendum and in 2016 US presidential campaign. Also, the use of proxies is a prime tool of Russian HW through which to further its objectives. In Middle East such as Russia is supportive to Bashar al-Assad in Syria and Night Wolves an anti-American and ultranationalist gang whose leader is a friend of Putin and its economic influence directly or indirectly, clandestine measures, and political influence are the main tools of Russian HW strategy (Chivvis, 2017).

Iran’s Hybrid Warfare in the Middle East: Today the Middle East is known for civil wars, proxy wars, regional and global warfare. The region is divided into different factions and the major players are Saudi Arabia and Iran. The conflict between Saudi and Iran is motivated by religion and geostrategic leadership. Iran has a great influence in Middle Eastern politics and supporting different Shia groups directly or indirectly in different countries such as in Yemen, Syria, Iraq, etc. “Today, Iran’s permanent hybrid war is mainly directed against three countries – USA, Israel and Saudi Arabia. However, Tehran is selective about the approach to each of these countries”(Zada, 2018). Iran is a Shia majority she is also known as the leading country of the Shia world. Iran, historically international backer of Houthis, is providing military and financial aid to Houthis. Both Iran and Houthis have same geographical interest. Iran’s aim is to challenge and counter Saudi influence using HW in the region.” Iran seeks to challenge Saudi and U.S. dominance of the region, and the Houthis are the primary opposition to Hadi’s Saudi- and U.S.-backed government in Sana’a.” (Zachary, April 19, 2016). Iran and Saudi are major rivals in the region because Saudi’s never wanted the superiority of Iran in the Middle East and Iran is also against her.

In the Syrian conflict, Saudi Arabia and Iran are fighting a proxy war with the help of major powers like Russia and the USA. Strategically, Iran is the close friend of Syria, Iran is supporting the Syrian government with weapons, financial assistance and training Syrian forces against ISIS and opponent groups. Iran is a regional Shiite power and supporting the Assad government and the Alawite dominant government and spending billions of dollars in a year. “Mr.Assad is Iran's closest Arab ally and Syria is the main transit point for Iranian weapons shipments to the Lebanese Shia Islamist movement, Hezbollah” (BBC, 2015). According to US official, almost 2000 Iranian and Iran backed militants are fighting in Syria for the defense of the Assad government. Islamic Revolutionary Guards are using Hezbollah and Shia Militia. Revolutionary guards are running propaganda campaign to demoralize adversary forces, launched cyber-attacks, spreading Shia ideology. Iran is providing financial and military assistance to support its proxies. Hezbollah began assisting the Assad regime in 2012 when the Assad government was losing the ground. Presence of Iranian and the Iraqi militants indicates that Syria is a battleground of sectarian war between Iranian backed Shiites and Saudi Arabian backed Sunnis. Yemen Civil war is yet another example of Iranian-Saudi HW. “Iran’s involvement in the ongoing conflict in Syria highlights examples of a state actor’s use of synchronized means to demonstrate a hybrid approach to achieving political goals” (Zada, 2018).


Modes and Indicators of Hybrid Warfare: Hybrid warfare is a multi-dimensional, multi-instrumental and multi-level concept. The perpetrators (state actors, non-state actors) used these means and methods against their opponents to achieve synergistic effects. There are several modes of hybrid warfare and we can understand these modes using only two broad categories: (i) Physical modes of warfare (kinetic, conventional, and military modes) (ii) Conceptual modes of warfare (non-kinetic, non-military, and unconventional). The Hybrid warfare is the combination of conventional and non-conventional, military and non-military, kinetic and non-kinetic, linear and non-linear, psychological/conceptual and physical methods can be used by state and non-state actors (Tienhoven, 2016).


Conventional Warfare (CW): CW is the use of traditional means, methods, techniques to wage a war based on specific rules and formula, pre-established or predefined tactics, and use of high logistics by two or more adversaries against each other using traditional military forces (army, navy, air forces), which is fought in a battleground.

Asymmetric Warfare: It is another concept which can be described as wars of the weak and contribute to hybrid warfare which can be defined as an uneven, unequal, and irregular struggle or war between state and non-state actors, between weak and strong for power and influence on a specific population. In asymmetric warfare, the military power and capabilities of belligerents relatively differ from each other and their resources, tactics, and strategies of waging war, size of army differ and unbalanced. Modern warfare is mostly asymmetric and hybrid in nature when the two adversaries’ armies are unequal and unbalanced in size or strength, the way of waging war is different, and the sides of the war do not look similar. Asymmetric or irregular warfare includes guerrilla wars, insurgency, counterinsurgency, civil war, terrorism. Simply we can say that a symmetric warfare is the conflict between conventional (formal military) and non-conventional (informal military).

Terrorism: Terrorism is the act of violence against a civilian by an armed individual, community, group, and state for political, economic, social and religious purposes. Originally, the term HW was used after the various decisive terrorist attacks in Lebanon, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Such as Hezbollah and Al-Qaida due to their emerging sophisticated and complexities means of warfare through which they combined the characteristics of unconventional and conventional warfare. Due to the hybridity of warfare state actors are also using terrorism against their opponents as a major strategy and tactics to attain their symbolic target and to win the modern war, such as the complex rivalry in the Middle East between Iran and Saudi Arabia, in south Asia between Pakistan and India both accusing each other.

Criminal Activities: Hoffman added criminal activities in his definition of Hybrid Warfare which is includes of such kinds of indicators which are trafficking, smuggling, narcoterrorism, illicit transform of advanced weapons, etc. these activities are the sources of economy of modern terrorist organizations and networks such as Al-Qaeda, ISIS/Daesh, Taliban, and Boko Haram, etc.


Political Means: It is a non-military means of hybrid warfare which can be defined as “the intended use of political means to compel an opponent to do one’s will, based on hostile intent” (Tienhoven, 2016). Through the political means adversary support and strengthen the local separatists or insurgent movements, and backing the ethnic, religious, communal, and social groups to destroy and destabilize the political system of the opponent. Potent means to wear down enemy moral includes bribery influential political or religious leaders, armed forces, businessman, administrative bureaucrats and establishing links with local ethnic, religious, and tribal groups.

Economic Means: In modern state system, economy is considered backbone of any nation which plays a significant role in attaining political and military goals. Martial Plan is best example of economic assistance. Economic mean is today however is being used as an instrument of HW, through the use or threat to use economic means to weaken the economy and productive power of the opponents. Developed states provide economic aids, financial support and incentives to underdeveloped nations through which they destroy the local industries and exploit natural resources.

Information Means: The informational warfare is related to psychological, conceptual, propaganda, cyber and war of minds. One can take actions to attain the information of its adversaries, change and build the perceptions of the public, make and break narrative and counter-narrative to attain its objectives. Media is one of the critical means of informational warfare which can influence the values, emotions, behavior, and beliefs of the targeted audience. Informational warfare is consisting of psychological warfare and mind control to capture heart and mind, propaganda campaigns against the government and to reduce the morale of the military.

Diplomatic Means: Diplomatic power or soft power brings into limelight the strength and weaknesses of a country in modern global politics. Diplomatic means include political and diplomatic isolation of hostile state. It is aimed at weakening the economic and military alliances, the imposition of economic sanctions.


Pakistan is one of the major victims of hybrid warfare, which is facing multiple internal and external challenges from regional and global hostile powers. The main purposes of these actors include targeting Pakistani society to polarize or divide it on religious lines. Enemy aims at exploiting fault lines in Pakistani society including sectarianism, ethnicity and identity. The contemporary scenario of geopolitics is changing regionally as well as globally due to the emergence of new regional and global powers and declining of the preexisting powers. The growing geostrategic importance of Asia in the 21st century is leading the world particularly China and the USA towards the new Cold War. In this geopolitical and economic competition, Pakistan is in the central and crossroad of the Asian century. Pakistan is China’s a significant partner in China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) flagship project of One Belt One Road (OBOR) mega-project. Pakistan has become more vulnerable to hybrid warfare. Weak economy, sectarianism, war against terrorism along with Pakistan policy focus on military to deter against India and less focus on human development and other aspects of security such as cyber security, is making it more difficult for Pakistan to fight a multidimensional war or possibly not a prolong and non-kinetic warfare. China-Pakistan increased partnership is a major cause of concern for Indian and US. New Delhi and Washington have formed counter-alliance against Pak-China billion dollars joint economic venture CPEC. India and USA are trying to impose hybrid war on Pakistan to counter Chinese emerging influence in the region through the fueling of ethnic and sectarian tensions in China’s Xinjiang Province and Pakistan. Islamabad is facing multiple challenges owing to hybrid warfare: such as the opponents are trying to isolate Pakistan diplomatically and internationally, building of new counter trade alliances by India and US, and India-Iran, and Afghanistan, the role of India is being promoted as regional leader by major powers and Pakistan is being isolated or sidelined, imposing economic pressure on Pakistan, ethnic and sectarian divide of society, conservative and moderate divide, foreign involvement in terrorist activities and attempting to declare Pakistan as a terrorist state, the separatist movements of Baloch, Pashtuns, and Sindhi’s, the growing tensions with neighboring states Afghanistan, Iran, propaganda, and media campaign against government, etc. “The opponents of Pakistan are hatching conspiracies and operating below the threshold of conventional warfare, through a blend of military and paramilitary tools using radicalized militants and ethnic separatists, cyber tools, and information operations as proxies to coerce, destabilize and shape its policies to their advantage” (Jaspal, 2018).


The Polarization of Pakistani Society: The population of a country is the prime target of hybrid warfare to divide and polarize to build unrest and disorder in the internal political and ideological landscape. Hybrid warfare mainly destroyed the national integration which is a critical challenge for Pakistan to reintegrate different ethnic groups, identities, sects, and communities.

i) The ethnic and identity divide is the primary target of India and Afghanistan against Pakistan in which they gained their objective to some extent. India is going to revive the history of 1971, in which Pakistan was divided in the name of identity, language, and geography which was an execution of Indian hybrid warfare against Pakistan. India supported Bengali nationalists and Mukti-Bahini materially, politically, economically, diplomatically, and morally. Same is the case with Baluchistan where India is supporting Baloch nationalists diplomatically and morally these preexisting provincial grievances are the sources of Indian hybrid warfare. Gradually nationalism is spreading its wings towards other sub-national groups such as the recent emergence of Pashtuns nationalism and Pashtun-Tahfuz-Movement (PTM) and they are also being supported by the Indian regional allied Afghanistan. Afghanistan is the immediate rival of Pakistan, she wants to extend its greater Afghanistan ideology through the spoiling of Pashtunistan movements in FATA and KPK.

ii) The polarization of society in the name of sectarianism or Sunni-Shia divide which is a prime utility agenda gained by India, Afghanistan, and Iran. The reason behind the sectarian divide is diversity in beliefs and geopolitical proximity kingdom of Arabia, Iran and Pakistan with the lack of good relations. There are many Sunni and Shia extremist organizations which are conducting a terrorist attack in the name of sects such as Lashkar-e-Jungvi, Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan, Sipah-e-Sahaba Pakistan, Sipah-e-Muhammad, Jundallah, etc. These terrorist and extremist organizations are being backed by neighboring states to spread their influences through Hybrid war.

iii) Third polarization of Pakistani society in the name of conservatives and moderate/liberals. Liberal values are the result of the media and information warfare through which the Islamic values are being completely modified. Conservative movements are emerging parallel with liberal movements which is a major utility for liberal and moderate countries such as India and other western nations. The lack of unitary or coherent ideology throughout Pakistani society along with the system flaws makes it easy for opponents to take advantage.

Myth-Making/Anti-campaign Against CPEC: Among the six corridors of OBOR mega project, CPEC is one of the major and important corridors between China and Pakistan. Chinese growing economic and military influence in the region is a major geostrategic and geopolitical challenge for the US and its ally India. Both are trying to destabilize Pakistan’s internal situation and destroying external image using hybrid warfare tools and strategies, through the myth-making, informational tools, use of media, establishing counter regional military and economic alliance, and to build public opinion against CPEC as a symbol of neo-colonialism. “Washington has every reason that anyone could destabilize Pakistan through identify-driven Hybrid War because this would allow it to disrupt, control, or influence CPEC and henceforth indirectly acquire a strategic advantage over China’s economy” (Korybco, n.d.). External actors promoted the identity conflicts in Pakistan to destroy the CPEC project and to create unrest, an uncertain circumstance to destabilize internal security. They are making myths and creating controversies among the local peoples. This propaganda contends that China is becoming a colonial power through which she can build naval bases and deploy its Red naval army in water, they can change the indigenous demography and can colonize Pakistan militarily, economically and politically. It is true that there is a common perception in Baluchistan and Sindh that CPEC is not for their prosperity and development and they also claim that Punjab as the core beneficiary of CPEC and blame it is the conspiracy of Punjabi elites to dominant over the other provinces. These are the seeds of Hybrid warfare which had been planted by regional allies to counter the spread of China’s growing economic influence in the region.

“Pursuant to this goal, both actors utilize Afghan-based terrorists to destabilize Pakistan, understanding that this can, in turn, reduce the attractiveness of CPEC to international investors and partners. The thinking goes that if high-profile terrorist attacks capture the global media’s attention, they’ll inevitably succeed in leading the worldwide audience to once more inaccurately conflating Pakistan with instability, which in turn feeds speculation and thus creates a dire risk for the business vitality of CPEC” (Korybco, 2017).


  • Importantly, the concept of HW should be identified by policy makers, influential leaders, and officeholders rationally with reference to Pakistan.
  • The main target and effectiveness of HW against Pakistan is the polarization of society. The national disintegration based on ethnicity, identity, provincialism, religion, sectarianism, etc. are the major internal weaknesses of Pakistan through which the opponents can easily use Hybrid war tools to attain their goals in Pakistan. The question is why society is disintegrating? The answer to this question is to promote federalism, to share resources equally between provinces, to protect minorities, to establish harmonious relation between different culture, ethnicities, and identities.
  • The entire nation’s approach is to involve all governmental agencies, public administration, businessmen, civil society, different ethnic groups and to build a bridge between federating units to provide a common and collective solution to counter Hybrid Warfare. To incorporate all the elements of national power military, economic, political, social, informational, cyber, civilian elements to further the capacity of national power.
  • The government of Pakistan must take a coordinated regional diplomatic relation with its neighboring states Iran, Afghanistan, Central Asian Republics, China, Russia and India could also be invited for important regional issues to establish a common and collective understanding on Hybrid warfare and to share counter-terrorism intelligence with each other.
  • UN is the sole platform for Pakistan in which it can regain and build its image at international forum that the arrest of Indian Navy’s serving commander Kolboshin Yadeve is sufficient to prove that Pakistan is victim of Indian HW. New Delhi is fueling terrorist activities and sponsoring terrorist organization based in Afghanistan.


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