The evolving warfare tactics has provided India with novel technologies to further intensify its disinformation campaign against Pakistan. Doval Doctrine is a manifestation of India’s Hybrid Warfare against Pakistan, albeit continuously failing to achieve its nefarious designs.
With the military and technological advancement, the concept of mutually assured destruction has become an almost obsolete idea. In the 21st century, we are witnessing something different, a new kind of warfare that is called Hybrid Warfare. Although it is yet to be precisely defined, in simpler words, it is the use of conventional and unconventional methods to target an enemy state. It is a multipronged approach that is employed to harm the enemy to the maximum at all levels, be it economically, politically, diplomatically, ideologically or in any other form1.
India, under its National Security Advisor (NSA), Ajit Doval, has geared up for Hybrid War against Pakistan. Doval confirmed India's strategy of Hybrid Warfare in a lecture at a university when he said that India should be exploiting Pakistan’s weaknesses, harming and exploiting it at all levels2.
India, in accordance with Doval Doctrine, is actively involved in waging Information Warfare against Pakistan. Using half-truths, disseminating disinformation and using various media platforms, India has tried to generate an anti-Pakistan narrative, both nationally and internationally. The notion that Pakistan is a terrorist state, despite the country being at the forefront of the war against terrorism, has mainly been fueled by the disinformation spread by India.
In line with Doval Doctrine, India has and is doing all it can to isolate and pressurize Pakistan on the diplomatic front. "We will isolate you. I will work for that" were the remarks of India’s Prime Minister that were meant for Pakistan. Besides such axiomatic statements, there is evidence that supports and proves this to be true.
The Government of Pakistan has lodged complaints with the International Monetary Fund (IMF) several times about India politicizing the activities of Financial Action Task Force (FATF) as a part of its greater malicious campaign to harm Pakistan, but it went unnoticed. India's deliberate politicization of the technical forum can be established from the fact that prior to the plenary meeting, India disseminated its own assessment of Pakistan's progress and petitioned immediate support to blacklist Pakistan.
India has utilized its influence with several international think tanks and academic institutions to project a bad picture of its regional adversaries, notably Pakistan. The difficult thing for Pakistan is that if it spent all its resources on tactical problems, as is the case with FATF issues, it would struggle to sustain and expand its economy.3
India has exploited Pakistan and Bangladesh’s past time and again to create tension between the two states. Modi, during his visit to Bangladesh, felt no shame in taking pride for India’s interference in breaking the two wings of Pakistan. Furthermore, when India announced its boycott of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) summit, Bangladesh followed suit as it pulled out of the meeting4.
In Afghanistan, following Chanakya's policy, India has done all it can to degrade diplomatic relations between the two neighboring countries, i.e., Pakistan and Afghanistan, while increasing its own presence. India's construction of Zaranj-Delaram road5 is also a strategic maneuver as it will provide an alternative route to Afghanistan, which is solely dependent on Pakistan for transit trade.
India has been actively involved in exploiting Pakistan's fault lines. Research and Analysis Wing (RAW), India's intelligence agency, has been carrying out covert operations against Pakistan using terrorist organizations, proxies and locals, a vision which was envisaged by Ajit Doval. There is ample evidence to support this stance.
India's involvement in fueling the Balochistan insurgency is no secret. Starting from 2009, when the then Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gillani handed over a dossier to Indian Prime Minister, providing evidence of RAW’s involvement in Balochistan,6 there has been no change in India's policy of getting involved in the internal affairs of other states. It is an open secret that India has links with Baloch Liberation Army (BLA). Similarly, one of India's leading newspapers, The Hindu, confirmed India’s support to BLA in an article, which stated, "It is established that BLA commanders, in the past, had sought medical treatment in India's hospitals, often under disguise or with a fake identity."
The Modi government had also offered its citizenship to the exiled anti-Pakistan Baloch leaders, which includes the members of banned Baloch Republican Party (BRP).
In 2019, Pakistan’s security forces caught an Indian spy agency's [RAW] network, Balawaristan National Front-Hameed (BNF-H) in Gilgit-Baltistan during Operation Pursuit. According to sources, the operation was carried out after a tip-off, resulting in recovering a huge amount of arms and ammunition. During the operation, fourteen active members of the BNF-H were arrested. However, according to intelligence sources, the head of the Balawaristan National Students Organization (BNSO) – the students’ wing of BNF-H – Sher Nadir Shahi was the one leading anti-Pakistan activities. Abdul Hameed Khan, who is the Chairman of BNF-H, had surrendered unconditionally on February 8, 2019 and later, Sher Nadir Shahi also surrendered on March 29. Shahi encouraged the students of Gilgit-Baltistan studying in different parts of Pakistan to join BNF-H and proliferate the organization's message through the Balawaristan Times magazine.
India has also been working towards harboring terrorism in Pakistan. It is actively supporting Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) operating from the Afghan land and helping them spread terror and fear in the whole region, including Pakistan. This stance was supported in the United Nations Monitoring Report released in 2020. The report also states that foreign terrorist fighters from India traveled to Afghanistan to join the ISIL-Khorasan (ISIL-K).
India has been using its news channels to disseminate anti-Pakistan narrative. According to a report by EU DisinfoLab, India used 265 fake local news sites to generate anti-Pakistan narrative and to serve their vested interests. The report stated that these sites tried to influence the European Union and the United Nations by repeatedly releasing articles on Pakistan's minorities and criticising Pakistan on all fronts. It revealed that eptoday.com published a large amount of content against Pakistan. It was also discovered that eptoday.com is managed by Indian stakeholders and has links with NGOs, think tanks and Srivastava Group. The same group later invited 27 members of the EU parliament to visit Kashmir and it was widely covered, falsely portraying a normalised image of Kashmir.7 The investigation also found close links of Indian stakeholders in Brussels and Geneva.
India is using similar tactics to convince its domestic audience that India is strong enough to coerce Pakistan. The perception that the Indian army is capable of a military confrontation with Pakistan has made its people not think twice before talking about war. The baseless claim of killing 350 people in a terrorist camp in Pakistan without any evidence, and using media as a tool to convince its people is a glaring example. Similarly, it blamed Pakistan for the Sri Lankan attack which was later rejected by Sri Lankan global terror expert, confirming that it had nothing to do with Pakistan, rather terrorists had coordinated and infiltrated using Indian soil.
Another way India has been trying to distort the world's perception of Pakistan is through publishing articles, portraying Pakistan as a failed state. An article under the heading, Pakistan will be a failed state, depicted Pakistan as a state at the verge of collapse, and to India's dismay, it remains merely India's wish.
Social Media Propaganda Against Indian Muslims
The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government operates a well-organized and regulated fake news system that ignites violence through the spread of false information. This system is influenced by hundreds of people who support the government and are assisting the Indian government, especially BJP, in amplifying the prejudice on social media in a way that is completely unprecedented. Following are a few examples of such propaganda:
Social Media Hashtags. The hashtags serve as a vehicle for misinformation accompanying respective unverifiable textual or visual material. Hashtags such as #CoronaJihad, #LoveJihad, #TablighiJamatVirus and #MarkazCOVIDSpread have been used extensively. The term Corona Jihad was introduced in India with the concept that Muslims were weaponising Coronavirus in order to target Hindus. A Twitter user explained the idea behind the #CoronaJihad hashtag in the following words: "Infected Muslims want to go and spread Coronavirus to kafirs (infidels) so they can die in hundreds of thousands. Their idea: few hundred Muslims will die, but they can make up for it by making more children. Use Coronavirus to kill more kafirs". Between March 28 and April 3, the hashtag appeared approximately 300,000 times on Twitter and was viewed by up to 165 million individuals. Similarly, hashtags such as #LandJihad and #GharWapsi contributed towards a significant portion of hatred and propaganda against Indian Muslims.
Bulli Bai. A controversy in which several Muslim women found themselves on 'auction' on an app, was hosted by the GitHub platform which used their photographs, many of them doctored.
Tek Fog. This particular app is used to hijack WhatsApp accounts, access the contact list and use the personal information of its users.8 The application is used to deceive the public by disseminating false information on different social media platforms and influence political narratives by automating the transmission of WhatsApp messages.
The new strategies and tactics to subdue a nation with the help of modern technology led to the categorization of war. The concept of four generations of warfare was first categorized by a group of United States’ analysts, including William Lind, in 1989. Fifth Generation Warfare (5GW) is a battle of information, narratives, perceptions and postmodern technology. Since conventional methods of war have become less relevant after the introduction of nuclear weapons in the sub-continent, India has been using Hybrid Warfare and 5GW tactics to create destabilization in Pakistan. To pursue its hegemonic ambitions and strategic interests, India makes use of propaganda, media, proxy wars, and sponsors militancy in order to disrupt the sociopolitical and ethno-nationalistic structure of Pakistan.
1. Marović, J. (2019, November 28). Wars of ideas: Hybrid warfare, political interference, and disinformation – New perspectives on shared security: NATO’s next 70 years. Carnegie Europe. https://carnegieeurope.eu/2019/11/28/wars-of-ideas-hybrid-warfare-political-interference-and-disinformation-pub-80419
2. Forum. (n.d.). Strategy, analysis, News and insight of Emerging Asia, Strafasia. https://strafasia.com/forum/topic/critical-evaluation-of-indias-hybrid-warfare-against-the-state-of-pakistan/?part=1
3. Dawn. (2022, September 17). Carrot is for India, stick for Pakistan. DAWN. https://www.dawn.com/news/1710538
4. Bangladesh, India boycott SAARC summit in Pakistan. (2016, September 28). The Daily Star. https://www.thedailystar.net/country/bangladesh-india-boycott-saarc-summit-pakistan-1290664
5. Indian Defence Review. 2022. Indian built Zaranj-Delaram Highway under Taliban Control-Indian Defence Review. [online] Available at: http://www.indiandefencereview.com/news/indian-built-zaranj-delaram-highway-under-taliban-control/ [Accessed 25 July 2022].
6. Kuchay, B., 2022. EU NGO report uncovers Indian disinformation campaign. [online] Aljazeera. Available at: https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2020/12/11/eu-ngo-report-uncovers-a-15-year-disinformation-ampaign [Accessed 25 July 2022].
7. News, I., 2022. Pakistan a failed state with no regard for values, culture of democracy, says India in right of reply at UNHRC. Times of India. [online]. Available at: https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/pakistan-a-failed-state-with-no-regard-for-values-culture-of-emocracy-says-india-in-right-of-reply-at-unhrc/articleshow/78299599.cms [Accessed 25 July 2022].
8. Prabal, A., 2022. A shout out for Whistleblowers to expose misuse of Tek Fog app. [online] National Herald. Available at: https://www.nationalheraldindia.com/india/a-shout-out-for-whistleblowers-to-expose-misuse-of-tek-fog-app [Accessed 25 July 2022].
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