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One-Day Media Workshop

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Post-Event Report 

One-Day Media Workshop 


Hybrid Warfare and Pakistan’s Readiness:

Time for National Narrative Construct and Strategic Foresight

  1. Introduction

In order to discuss and train media persons on the challenges of “Hybrid Warfare” faced by Pakistan and the role media can play to surmount this challenge, the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) organized a one-day Media Workshop titled “Hybrid Warfare and Pakistan’s Readiness: Time for National Narrative Construct and Strategic Foresight”. Experts in the relevant field, both speakers and discussants shared their opinion on the subject. The workshop was substantive and animated discussion took place. The workshop was attended by media persons.

  1. Workshop Proceedings
  1. Inaugural Session

In his welcome address, Ambassador Vice Admiral (R) Khan Hasham Bin Saddique, President, IPRI, said that the Media Workshop was part of IPRI’s ongoing efforts to build an informed discourse on some of the vital issues of national importance with a view to propose viable policy and strategy framework to deal with them. While remarking on the topic of the workshop, he said that the contemporary global geopolitical landscape remains in a state of unprecedented flux caused by perpetual volatility and complexity. There is intense competition for influence and control and a large number of states are embroiled in conflicts, including many Muslim countries. He further explained that another defining feature of recent times has been the expansion in security paradigm which no longer is confined to traditional military dimension but includes a long list ranging from environmental to informational to cyber, and of course the social and economic security. In addition, in a globalized world doused with information overload, the efficacy of non-military instruments that target the population to achieve policy goals has increased manifold. Thus, the irregular, non-linear types of warfare expected in the twenty first century, have blurred the distinction between war and peace, combatants and non-combatants and crave for application of non-kinetic means, be it diplomatic, economic, information, cyber, psychological or perception domains.

Hybrid Warfare, as the name implies is a combination of conventional and non-conventional components often characterized by traditional and innovative tactics, decentralized planning and of course, inherently employs non-state actors. The diffusion of technologies has become a means to induce paralysis to a state’s war machinery. The role of soft power is much more pronounced and free and rapid flow of information through social networking sites has brought the conflicts to every home. The flip side of this is that there is securitization of society, where everything under the sun ends up as being branded as the fifth generation warfare.

Closer to home, Pakistan has achieved a credible full spectrum strategic deterrence yet conventional military and indeed overall national power potential vis-à-vis India remains highly asymmetric. Pakistan’s adversaries are openly eyeing to undermine the grand strategic project of CPEC and exploit some of our internal fissures to achieve their nefarious designs.  Given this scenario, Pakistan needs to synergize all elements of national power i.e. political, diplomatic, informational, military and soft power tools, both for defensive and offensive realms.

In his Keynote Address as a Chief Guest, Mr. Fawad Hussain Chaudhry, Federal Minister for Information and Broadcasting, said that the hybrid warfare holds a lot of importance in today’s day and age. Ever since the US elections 2016, there has been a lot of debate over Russian involvement in the elections via facebook. The technologically advanced nations are debating on hybrid warfare. Hybrid warfare is the new name given to propaganda which was being conducted even during 500 BC. Even then, it was used as a proper war tool. Academic work on this subject can be attributed to the works of Kautilya/Chanakya, Machiavelli and in modern times, kinetic warfare has become secondary and hybrid warfare has taken precedence. After the 1950s, no country annexed another country. With the development of political philosophy, technology and the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, policymakers realized that war had become an expensive venture. This evolutionary process has led to the concept of hybrid warfare. Hybrid Warfare depends on two important components: idea and the presentation of that idea. If the idea is not strong, its presentation will rarely be strong. Exceptions are present, for instance, Israel has inflicted immense brutalities and committed atrocities in Gaza but it has presented Palestinians as a threat to Israeli peace. Their narrative, no matter how flawed, has gained currency in the International community. This is an example of hybrid warfare where a weak idea was sold by a very powerful presentation. In the post 9/11 scenario, Pakistan’s presentation of extremism and terrorism was so weak that India was able to link Pakistan with terrorism and was able to connect the legitimate dispute of the Jammu and Kashmir with Muslim extremism. This is a classic success of Indian success in presentation of an idea. In the last 19 years, during Pakistan’s war on terror, there has not been a single book published in the West which presents Pakistan’s narrative. Historically even, Pakistan has made similar policy errors. In the 1971 war, Pakistan forced all international media out of Dhaka, leaving a vacuum for Pakistan’s narrative.

On the other hand, India’s narrative was extremely strong during the 1971 war. Fast forward to present day, the Pulwama episode was the first episode where Pakistan outclassed India. With timely coordination between the Government of Pakistan and the ISPR in the presentation of its narrative, India was isolated in the international community. Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan was presenting an idea of peace, whereas, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi was trying to sell a very weak idea, i.e. warmongering. As result, the international community has recognized that Pulwama incident was used as a pretext by Modi to undermine Pakistan for BJP’s political goals in the upcoming elections and put lives of millions of people at risk. This is a great example of successful presentation of a strong idea. In order to improve the performance even more, Ministry of Information and Broadcasting is being made a state tool, rather than a mouthpiece of a specific political party. In the last couple of years, Pakistan had no narrative, the external publicity wing is in shambles, television channels do not have the capacity, and most importantly, social media needs to be utilized to send across our message to the masses.

To this end, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was the first political party to utilize social media to send message of corruption and bad governance to the masses. Another aim of the Information Ministry is to get all the international media to come back to Pakistan. To make this possible, the government has taken some positive steps. For instance, the visa regime has been eased, NOC regime has been finished and foreign journalists are being invited to Pakistan. The government wants to make Pakistan an open state rather than a security state. Most of the media people are not academically equipped to effectively perform their duties. The government is spending 85 crores on APP, 13 million on PTV and 6 million on Radio Pakistan and these funds needs to utilize more efficiently. Unless we modernize our media and implement internal reforms, Pakistan’s narrative will be left behind.

  1. Academic Session

Chair/Moderator – Ambassador (R) Fauzia Nasreen, Member Board of Governors (BOGs), IPRI



Dr. Farhan Hanif Siddiqi, Associate Professor, School of Politics and International Relations (SPIR), Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU), Islamabad talked on “Hybrid Threats and Warfare Facing Pakistan.” In his talk, Dr. Siddiqi’s presentation was based on three core questions. One, what does the literature say about hybrid warfare? Two, what are the hybrid threats that Pakistan faces? Last, what can Pakistan do to counter hybrid threats? His key argument is that threats have a function value as well as they can engender social cohesion within a society. Even the literature of regional integration tells us that it was the threat of communism that led to the creation of the European Coal Community which later on manifested into the European Union. There is a catch however. If we focus too much on the threats, then we miss out on the opportunities of what we can do. Focusing too much on threats securitizes the narrative which needs to be addressed intelligently. Focusing too much on hybrid threats also undermines the values that we pride ourselves on. At a time when Pakistan is trying to portray an image of a democratic, progressive country, too much focus on enemy images undermines freedoms, minority rights because one starts seeing everything as a possible threat. Thus, a maximalist approach towards threats is a problem in itself. We need to create a balance between the security threats that are real and the opportunities that exist to address those threats. It is a catch 22 situation; the more enemy images we have, the more hybrid threats become real leading to securitization of the threats which hurts our image. If we continue pursuing a military strategy, then the label of an aggressor state comes into play. This is something that we should be careful about.

With regards to the concept of hybrid warfare, there is nothing novel about it. It has been a part and parcel of state policies. The novelty is that with the advent of information technology, launching hybrid warfare has become easier for states. The connotation of the term itself is important as it came about after the Russian annexation of Crimea in March 2014 which led to NATO claiming that Russia had launched a hybrid warfare i.e. it was using kinetic as well as non-kinetic means. It was supporting and sponsoring political protests in Ukraine. It was using economic coercion and intense disinformation with the aim of exploiting the existing fault lines in Ukraine. Hybrid warfare is not only used by states by non-states actors as well. Online radicalization strategies employed by ISIS is a case in point. Hybrid Warfare has become staple of Pakistan’s security vocabulary these days. This is due to the heightened security consciousness in Pakistan after the Kulbhushan Jadhav arrest. Furthermore, there was an attack on the Chinese consulate last year in November. Another factor is the social movements like the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (PTM) which have seeped deep into the minds of policymakers making hybrid threats real. In interaction with some journalists, DG ISPR argued that there is a new power that Pakistan needs to contend with and that is fifth generation warfare and the media has huge rule to play in countering it by showcasing a positive image of the country. Fault lines such as political instability, porous borders, sectarianism, societal injustices, and corruption within the Pakistani society compound the hybrid warfare threat. Also, foreign powers use proxies to discredit Pakistan’s narrative. These include socially engineered movements, terror outfits, and pseudo-intellectuals amongst others. Another way of launching hybrid warfare is by supporting a certain political party and assisting it in winning the elections and over time, foreign powers dictate the agenda to them. Our fascination with threats makes us see everything as a threat which in turn, turns us into isolationists. We need to analyze whether our interests are at stake in this warfare or our values are at stake. We also need to analyze if our national interests are defined by our national identity. If so, then we cultivate a securitized narrative which isolates people.

As a way forward, we need to stop seeing threats as monolithic. For instance, there is a lot of discussion on Balochistan and PTM, whereby these ethnic groups are seen as monolithic, whereas they are much splintered. For example, PTM does not represent the entire Pashtun constituency. It is much localized dynamic, geographically based in the south of Khyber Pakhtunkhwa. Furthermore, democratic processes can bring about conciliatory outcomes. An example in this regard is Karachi where in the recent past, we have witnessed a remarkable change in the voting patterns where PTI won 49 national assembly seats. To conclude, hybrid warfare threats should not be dealt with in a maximalist approach. Instead, a robust civil society should be created where dissent is not stifled. In order to address these hybrid warfare threats, the state will have to use kinetic and non-kinetic means. However, it is important that the state does not over react as it would be counterproductive. Also, in terms of international narrative, the state should engender a progressive, tolerant, open society and concurrently focus on the opportunities which arise from these threats for the development of the society as much as the threats themselves.

Mr. Ahmad Nazir Warraich, Advocate High Court and Expert in International Law, presented his views on “Legal Challenges in Countering Hybrid Threats in Pakistan.” Mr. Warraich explained that one important term in this regard is balancing, especially balancing rights. Legally when it is state power and authority and rights of the people, then the courts come to have a very important role because it is the courts that balance the rights of the citizens vis-à-vis the state. Please remember that there is an inverse relationship between state security and human rights or civil liberties or fundamental freedoms. The test is to draw a fine balance between the two and it is impossible to strike the correct balance. It is an on-going, dynamic effort. We have seen states fumble in this regard. An example would be the United States after the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the form of Patriot Act 1 and Patriot Act 2. Furthermore, the then President George W Bush’s rhetoric of “with us or against us” creates more confusion.

In hybrid warfare, when you are fighting for the hearts and minds of people, clear terminology and legal terms can be problematic. Pakistan presents the perfect ingredients for hybrid warfare: ethno-religious divisions, political instability, terrorism and its geo-strategic location i.e. Pakistan is the corridor for different civilizations. Law requires clear delineations, whereas, hybrid warfare threats are nebulous and vague. It is important to ensure that enemies do not use the gap between the freedoms of the people and the legal framework in place for state security. Pakistan has recently passed the Electronic Crimes Act which would cover hate speech, glorification of terrorism etc. However, these laws have either been recent or have not been actively implemented in the past. Media also plays an unfortunate role in this conundrum. Facts and statements are not fact-checked, thus, misinforming the audience. Genuine identity concerns should be addressed without being misused. In order to address these threats, the civil and criminal procedural loopholes need to be addressed holistically.

Lieutenant General (R) Khalid Naeem Lodhi, Former Defence Secretary, spoke on “Kinetic and Non-Kinetic Elements of National Power to Defeat Hybrid Threats.” He explained to the audience that wars are directed to break or dilute the will of the opposing entities. Unlike the dictionary meaning of war as armed conflict, but the acme of strategy is to win a battle without fighting. We do talk about the nature and character of war. Hybrid Warfare is the most flexible and all-encompassing term. It entails employment of science and all arts of warfare along with application of all modern resources available. This war comprehensively embraces all kinetic and non-kinetic means, however, which means of the two are utilized more depends on the situation facing the state. Major components of the hybrid war include conventional operations, employment of proxies, media operations (mainstream and social media), false flag operations, economic undermining along with political and diplomatic pressures.

The term “Hybrid War” is new but the phenomenon of employing psychological and economic pressures along with kinetic methods is as old as mankind. To master the strategy of hybrid warfare, it is not enough to understand the ways and means but the location of the objective that in the end we aim to achieve. The final target is the will and mindset of the adversary state and its populace. From this, it is clear that hybrid war straddles a larger space in cognitive space as compared to physical domain. A well-orchestrated hybrid war would be unleashed against the minds and will power to impact their world views, self-views, relationship with other entities, attitudes, faith, bonding forces, cultural pride amongst others.

Before coming up with any strategy to counter hybrid war, we should ask ourselves a few questions. First, are we really facing a hybrid threat or is it just an overreaction? Second, who is likely to attack? Third, what means are being employed to wage this war? And last, who or what are the targets? To answer some of these questions, if the will of the people is the target, then it is important to locate the target. It is important to note that ‘will’ of the people is center of gravity of a nation that is dependent on the political, economic and social structure of the society. In a democratic setup, it is likely to be distributed all over the polity. On the other hand, in autocratic societies, it is embedded in certain personalities. Due to their formative minds, youth are particularly vulnerable to such onslaughts. Hybrid War impacts the society in a number of ways. It undermines the economy, which largely affects the poor and middle class of the society. It attacks on opposing moral stance and ethical mooring would normally affect middle class only. When the social structure comes under stress, it will engulf the rich and middle class. Similarly, when the belief systems, the world view when attacked may unhinge the base on which society is constructed. Hybrid War is mainly a war of narratives and in Pakistan’s case there are certain narratives which are mainly used. For instance, religion is shown as an instrument of division rather than bonding. Creation of Pakistan is shown as a problem and an undivided India is shown as the answer. Targeted attacks on Muslim countries are shown as conspiracy theories. These narratives are perpetuated by employing media to aggravate an existing weakness, employ paid, advertent and inadvertent agents to lead such thinking groups and to carry out physical false flag operations to increase stand-off between various groups. The adversary state could employ economic and political hit men to aggravate the existing disparities and create a civil strife situation preferably culminating into a civil war.

It is important to note that hybrid war threats are neither completely home grown nor all enemies doing but an amalgam of the two, the grey zone, thus hybrid in nature. Pakistan needs to employ defensive and active measure to face the hybrid threats successfully. In the defensive domain, the state should educate the public, especially the youth about enemy intention and their methods. The state should also remove social discrepancies to reduce reactionary attitude and control fake news and propaganda. In the active measures, the state’s response should be planned and executed through hybrid means which would require change in organization, equipment and training. To this end, Pakistan should set up an elaborate setup under the National Security Advisor as the Headquarters or there is an existing and well provisioned joint services headquarters which should be placed directly under the Prime Minister. Lastly, the grand plans with only nibbling manifestations must be kept below the perceptive threshold, such that targets reactions are mortally delayed due to continuous guessing if they are actually under attack or not.

Mr Shahzad Nawaz, Imaginer, Filmmaker and Media Specialist, spoke on “Media Strategies in Countering Hybrid Warfare.” He was of the view that when talking about hybrid warfare, we are divided between two Jews, i.e. (i) Gutenberg, who brought about the industrial revolution and (ii) Mark Zuckerberg, who brought about the technological revolution. We are essentially told that we will first have to assess the objective before creating a strategy to employ the tactics to achieve those objectives. This is not workable.

In order to counter these threats the state needs to collaborate with the national think tanks, media to create an inclusive, holistic and linear national narrative. Also, it is imperative that Pakistan as a nation needs to claim its culture, consolidate its history and implement reforms in the media and education sector to be fully prepared against these threats.

  1. Input by Discussants:

The first session was followed by input from the discussants with a wide array of comments. They are as under:-

Dr Syed Rifaat Hussain, Professor, Government and Public Policy (GPP), National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad talked about the Pakistani social cognition. He stated that unless we bring the societal perspective or societal dimension into the inquiry, our analysis of hybrid warfare remains incomplete. He further indicated that the hybrid warfare is also a form of misinformation. He further added that narratives cannot be constructed on lies, partial facts or distorted versions of truth. Pakistan stands at 138 ranks in Human Index, which means there is a lack of governance crisis. This elaborates that the constructed narratives and strategies were either wrong or were not properly implemented. He further enlightened the audience with his views on power construction and stated that historically, power has rested on three dimensions which include power of muscle, money and mind and if these three dimensions are taken into account and applied on hybrid warfare interesting new dimensions of this phenomenon will unfold. While mentioning the modern power construction, he stated that the power of media and power of the masses are now also included which means that power construction has evolved over time.

Dr. Vaqar Ahmed, Joint Executive Director Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI), Islamabad opined that instead of having a reactionary approach, Pakistan must adopt the policy of looking forward, but it requires massive investment and a sovereign economy, which unfortunately is lacking. He further stated that Pakistan is the oldest client of International Monetary Fund (IMF) and gone back to them for funding purposes for more than 20 times, which explains that there is some structural problem. Though Pakistan is a nuclear power but it is unfortunate that we cannot save the newborns as we are one of the highest ranked in infant mortality. It is evident that Pakistan faces internal security problems, but there are also external economic threats. One of Pakistan’s neighbors’ wants to have porous border because of all the informal trade that comes in, which remains to be a key constraint on Pakistan’s local level competitiveness. Such smuggling or informal trade has disturbed Pakistan’s local industry from the last 2-3 decades.

Moreover, Pakistan has signed few trade agreements which are now going in contradiction to our local industry. Similarly, Pakistan’s representation in the economic forums of United Nations is limiting over time. Financial Action Task Force FATF team has also arrived in Pakistan. It is essential to have a better understanding that once Pakistan is out of the FATF clouts, how come we are indulged again in it. Certainly, there are external pressures and outside forces which is part of the hybrid warfare. He further added that it is essential to know the trajectory of these grey lists, black lists and sanctions and then come up with strategies to manage it. Pakistan also faces threats of cyber security in financial sector. He gave example of cyber-attacks on two commercial banks in Pakistan. The accounts in those banks were used in five different countries and the money was siphoned out, whereas at the national level, cyber security action plan to counter such threats was missing, which requires immediate attention. Pakistan desires to expand in E-commerce, nonetheless, with this expansion comes the higher risk of cyber threat which also requires to have an efficient cyber control. He went on to give another example of the attacks on business websites which were hacked and then the hackers demand payment.

He also discussed the role of multilateral and intergovernmental bodies in Pakistan. He highlighted that World Bank (WB) and Asian Development Bank (ADB) have helped Pakistan in difficult times but our Economic Affairs Division must take into consideration that how these organizations interface with Pakistan at different levels. He also referred to the term economic hit-man which was first coined for the international consultants. He added that we have submitted to the Economic Affairs Division that rather than hiring foreign consultants, local capacity must be utilized. He also explained that closing a commercial transaction in Pakistan is a challenge. He referred to few examples such as giving and taking back port from Singapore; a mining contract was signed and then taken back.

He also underlined solutions to these predicaments. First and foremost is the economic structure and identity. Pakistan is no more an agricultural country; neither it’s an industrial one. In Pakistan, 60 percent of the GDP comes from the services sector whereas it is unable to export these services. Planning Commission needs to cater such services and come up with a through plan. Secondly, there should also be Economic Civil Service. Neither the Planning Commission has any Chief Economist, nor does the Finance Ministry have any Economic Advisor. Thirdly, socio economic disparity must be addressed with big push investment in Balochistan and erstwhile former FATA. Explaining the fourth solution he stated that Pakistan should also manage its economic image. Lastly, he said that Pakistan also requires investing in the think thanks abroad to further strengthen our economic image. He also added that there is also a need to fix the business dispute resolution system.

Ms. Fereeha Idrees, Journalist and Anchorperson Abb Tak News, stated that it’s a reality that hybrid warfare is enforced on Pakistan. She was of the view that Pakistan’s hybrid threat is directly linked with our aggressive neighbor. India started to uplift its image 20 years ago through communication strategy and it has been witnessed that Indian diaspora is holding key positions at various think tanks abroad and their presence is even in known media channels such as BBC and CNN. She further added that the narrative about South Asia abroad is India centric and Indian image building is directly related to demeaning Pakistan. She was of the view that hybrid war was unleashed on us 20 years earlier and Pakistan is a bit late in responding to this threat. While Pakistan remained busy in fighting the war on terror, it was portrayed by our enemies as epicenter of terrorism. In order to tackle the hybrid threat, there should be an all-inclusive strategy. Media can play an important role in countering this threat but unfortunately, media channels are focusing more on business model rather than a journalistic model. She also mentioned that media channels are rating oriented and most importantly it lacks research. With such business oriented media model, building a narrative is not possible. She stated that Pakistan has outclassed Indian narrative in recent events. It was made possible by outstanding role of ISPR, whereas, Information Ministry should have been proactive in playing such role. Pakistan’s leadership was compromised in the past ten years. They were promoting personalized narrative rather than giving a national narrative. On the issue of PTM she stated that their narrative is detached from national narrative and they are funded from dubious anti-Pakistan sources. Lastly she stated that Pakistan should focus more in promoting its success stories through media abroad.

Dr. Muhammad Khan, Professor, Politics and International Relations, International Islamic University (IIU), Islamabad stated that as far as the hybrid warfare is concern; so far Pakistan has been managing it as a reactionary measure whereas it requires a comprehensive preventive strategy. He also raised a question that does Pakistan require a counter narrative or does it require pursuing a narrative of its own. Since Pakistan has a very important and attractive geo-strategic location, hybrid warfare was unleashed on it by its adversaries. However, the resilient and ideology of this nation is strong, which is based on Islamic ideology.

He referred to the Pakistan nuclear test in May 1998 and recent confrontation with India and many other examples, where one can witness the Pakistani nation harmonized. While explaining hybrid warfare he stated that the modern warfare is very unique in nature where the aim of the adversary in to break the will of the people without fighting the physical war. This warfare includes changing of mindset and changing of perceptions not through traditional means but through modern warfare techniques. Pakistan was venerable for its enemies at socio economic level and this was also exploited by our adversaries. He mentioned that this happened because of bad governance and Pakistan still faces the same issue. However, he appreciated the institutions of Pakistan that skillfully and tactfully tried and counter the hybrid warfare threat.

Dr. Ahmed Ijaz Malik, Assistant Professor, School of Politics and International Relations (SPIR), Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU), Islamabad stated that it is important to identify the audience of the hybrid warfare. He added that this war can be broadly categorized in two different sides; one is the physiological warfare extended side and the other is spillover on economic and political side. The primary focus should be assessing the effects of hybrid warfare on individual and their behavior, which requires empirical quantification of the data. In this regard, the economic losses of state can be utilized as empirical and quantifiable data to than transform social behavior. He further stated that he does not agree to the notion that Pakistan does not have any narrative. We do possess narratives and ethos that define our society, if they are not named; this is something our society must work on. Certainly, there are also discourses in our society, which has transformed and evolved from time to time. He also mentioned that as a society it must be seen that how information affects us and how it can be manipulated. He gave the recent example of Indian attack on Pakistan. For instance, he specified that Indian media reported that Pakistan’s F-16 was shot down but no counter rebuttal was given from Pakistan. Perhaps it may be a strategy to let the thing die down by their own.

Mr. Jamal Aziz, Executive Director, Research Society of International Law (RSIL), Islamabad was of the view that the power of International Law has been used as a tool of hybrid warfare and also as a shield against it. Unfortunately, Pakistan is not fully prepared against the legal maneuvers being actively perpetuated against it both overtly and covertly. In legal terms, this is called as law fair or the weaponization of law for the promotion of state’s objectives. The term law fair is used at leading universities and think tanks and strategic circles of the world but this concept as an instrument of state craft has recently been identified or realized by the stake holders in Pakistan and presently there is critical lack of capacity in apprehending and responding to the strategic threats in the legal realm. While mentioning the forms of law fair he identified that there are different forms, which include, direct and overt law fair, gradual and indirect law fair and our own issues including bad governance and lack of legal capacity at state institutions dealing with these issues. The classical example of it is how Indians have used law fair after Mumbai attacks to malign Pakistan’s image using law and relied heavily on United Nations Security Council legal framework. Every major terrorism incident that happened in India in the last 10 years has been followed by legal process, from dossiers to investigation reports to court orders. Since they have used the international law, their narrative is borrowed and supported at international level. Their motives were political but they used law to defend on pursue their case, which has been difficult for Pakistan to rebuttal. There is a lack of clarity in Pakistan on how or who should respond to such legal measures which is why we have failed to defend Pakistan’s legal case. Indian decision to reach out International Court of Justice (ICJ) in Kulbhushan Jadhav case is another case of using law fair as tool. While Pakistan found a living prove of Indian intervention in Pakistan, they reversed it by taking the case to the ICJ. Lastly, he stated that international law is something where Pakistan needs to deploy its full assets to deal with future legal issues.

Ms. Saima Aman Sial, Senior Research Officer, Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS), Islamabad stated that since hybrid warfare is the blend of conventional and unconventional, convergence of psychological and physical warfare in its manifestation, the objective of the enemy or adversary is to portray an image abroad according to their desires. She further added that it is very difficult to grapple with this warfare if the object is unknown or are many. The strategy in this regard must be all-inclusive which requires massive investment. She highlighted that media shapes the opinion and mindset of the people or society, and it is important to have a timely dissemination of information from proper channels. She also mentioned the recent Indian attack on Pakistan in which we have to see whether the each of the questions or allegations raised by the Indian media or government was timely answered through right sources. She further added that a proactive response was lacking. Another point that she highlighted was regarding the active diplomacy where she stated that since the allegations must be responded and the audience should be international community, Pakistan must excel itself in diplomatic efforts to share its view point. While mentioning the third suggestion, she emphasized that Pakistan should work in developing and enhancing online digital platforms for efficient credible information. Lastly, she pointed the fault lines that have been highlighted requires comprehensive approach through addressing the structural flexures.

Mr. Mirza Masood Baig, Head PTV World, discussed that to counter the hybrid threat, we should start from sane voices and views, those who can project a good success story of Pakistan. He referred to school going kids of Pakistan as one of the important missing element in the discussion. Being a media person, he talked about two major kids’ channels in Pakistan which are operated by our neighbor India and through which they are perpetuating their narrative. The discussion is focused on today’s narrative but we should also inquire and worry about tomorrow’s narrative building. Further, he argued that the media industry is being market driven; the marketers tells the media what content should be publish. Secondly, he indicated that Pakistan media does not have any collective narrative, each channel has different narrative. He also discussed the situation of Balochistan where army and local people have work hard to achieve peace; however, this has not been highlighted by media. There should be a master narrative and then further sub narratives that we all must follow and that narrative should understand the psyche of the audience.



  1. Recommendations
  1. In recent years, hybrid warfare has come up as a real challenge for states especially, the ones which are developing. Given Pakistan’s status as a security state, the emphasis must be on making Pakistan an open state which can take complete benefit of opportunities in near and far neighborhood. Besides rebranding the image, focus must be onto collaborating with international media and helping them establish their outlets/franchise in Pakistan.
  2. With the dire need to create and promote a collective national narrative, media reforms must be introduced in Pakistan. Media centers and outlets through the use of agenda-setting must work on selective agendas (per se based on national interests) and provide people with variety of content as a global and mature practice.
  3. Given that media is a key tool of hybrid warfare, the debate has largely been revolving around media control, regulation and monitoring. In order to adopt mature media practices, first there is a need to outline the definition of ‘control’ and ‘freedom’ besides, maintaining a balancing act between the two. Pakistan in recent years has made efforts to establish itself as a democracy and such elaborations are necessary in order to function as a mature state.
  4. Much hype has been associated with the concept of hybrid warfare. State tends to believe being effected by the phenomenon but there is a need to avoid over-reaction of all sorts and devise strategies in complete harmony and cohesion with all possible stakeholders and institutions since the concept has diverse dimensions (ranging from political, economic, and diplomatic to psychological). In this background, the state must also invest in prioritizing the opportunities of development. Concrete development at right place (through timely response and approach) will automatically minimize the threshold of threat spectrum.
  5. Whereas hybrid warfare remains to be the most current form of modern day competition among states, its antidote lies in the basic factor of awareness. Besides, the introduction of reforms in relevant sectors, legal and general expertise must be developed to deal with overall threat perception.
  6. In developing countries, socio-economic disparities and overall disharmony has made adversary’s job easier to fight beyond borders. Efforts must be made to satisfy the demands and needs of public and invest in improving developmental indices through general awareness, economic opportunities and upheaval of established social norms.
  7. Pakistan as a state in recent years has rebranded itself as a democracy. Since democratic norms and traditions are nascent, the state besides spreading information must start (horizontal and vertical) communication with its institutions. To go beyond the boundaries, use of image specialists and spin doctors must be made. Pakistan must come up with forward narrative instead of counter-narrative now.
  8. Keeping in view the democratic norms, focus must be onto giving streamlined and collective response on issues of critical importance (especially those relating to national interest, security or development). An analysis of Pulwama attack and subsequent developments could be a case in point.
  9. With history as witness, it is seen that states with weaker economic stability and sovereignty have never been successful in projecting themselves effectively globally. Pakistan needs to create its economic identity (a vital dimension of hybrid warfare) internationally. This aspect includes structuring/building of complete Economic Civil Service, managing economic image, meeting socio-economic discrepancies and intellectual investments abroad. More so, Pakistan needs to develop expertise in the field of economics and produce economists who can fight Pakistan’s case in future at global forums.
  10. Pakistan faces various conventional and non-conventional challenges and cyber domain is one of them. Both time and energies must be invested in creating cyber policy and strategy in order to ensure cyber security. Cyberspace and arena will be the battlefield of future.

Disclaimer: Views expressed are of the speakers and are not necessarily reflective of IPRI policy.

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IPRI is one of the oldest non-partisan think-tanks on all facets of National Security including international relations & law, strategic studies, governance & public policy and economic security in Pakistan. Established in 1999, IPRI is affiliated with the National Security Division (NSD), Government of Pakistan.


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