Pakistan Confronting ‘Hybrid War’, Army Chief Calls For Comprehensive National Response

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“Failing to coerce politically and militarily, India has been working on hybrid warfare techniques to bleed Pakistan”

ISLAMABAD (Nov 19, 2018): “We are now confronting [a] hybrid conflict where focus is shifting to subversion on religious, sectarian, ethnic and social issues”, the chief of army staff, General Qamar Javed Bajwa said on Monday.

“This needs a comprehensive national response,” the army chief said while addressing participants of the National Security Workshop at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi.

The army chief earlier in April had warned that a “hybrid war” had been imposed on Pakistan to internally weaken it, but noted that the enemies were failing to divide the country on the basis of ethnicity and other identities.

Analysts link army chief’s hybrid war statement to India.

“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.” Gen Bajwa had said in his speech at the passing-out parade of cadets at the Pakistan Military Academy in Kakul while referring to the strategies of the ‘enemies’ employing political and other means of interventions.

This was the second time in a week that the army chief had indirectly referred to a new movement launched in the name of rights of Pakhtun people.

Foreign relations and defense expert Dr. Zafar Nawaz Jaspal interpreted General Bajwa’s statement in April as an indirect message to the country’s nuclear rival India.“Failing to coerce politically and militarily, India has been working on hybrid warfare techniques to bleed Pakistan,” Jaspal told Arab News.

Seeking a civil-military-public response against it, the army chief said at the workshop, “We now have a greater responsibility to ensure that our people, especially the youth, stay aware and steadfast against propaganda onslaught being launched through soft offensive,” the military’s media wing, the ISPR, quoted the army chief as saying.

“It’s our time to rise and progress and we must grasp the opportunity achieved after countless sacrifice,” Gen Qamar said alluding to successes achieved in terror fight and the upcoming China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).

Both developments provide Pakistan, specially its youth–the country has a youth bulge–great opportunities to move forward, experts say.

However, with terror and extremists down to the lowest level in years, detractors within and outside seem to have joined hands to deconstruct the progress made and destabilize the country, the experts said.

The army chief in August pointed out that the nature and character of war has changed. “Youth now is prime target of our enemies in hybrid war”.

While interacting with the participants of the workshop, Gen. Bajwa said, “Pakistan had been subjected to various threats, especially during the last two decades.” The “nation and its armed forces are on a positive trajectory to defeat all threats facing the country”.

After a briefing on the security situation in Pakistan, challenges and response, the participants had an interactive session with the army chief.

The National Security Workshop is an annual event at the National Defense University, where participants include representatives from all segments of society.

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