Part of the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (“Pashtun Protection Movement”, PTM) is working with foreign powers to wage Hybrid War on Pakistan in parallel with the complementary Hybrid War dismissively mocking the state’s accusations by portraying them as a self-interested overreaction by the military, with this Hybrid War on Hybrid War representing a very dangerous development that seeks to delegitimize the state’s proactive information campaign about these sorts of threats that has hitherto helped bolster society’s defense against them.
PTM And The Hybrid War Plot
A very dangerous development is taking place in Pakistan nowadays and that’s the Hybrid War on Hybrid War, or in other words, the concerted efforts to delegitimize the state’s proactive information campaign about Hybrid War threats within the country and misportray them as self-interested overreactions by the military. This is especially relevant when it comes to the Pashtun Tahafuz Movement (“Pashtun Protection Movement”, PTM) that the Director General of Inter-Services Public Relations (DG ISPR) Major General Asif Ghafoor recently accused of being on the Indian and Afghan intelligence agencies’ payrolls. Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa soon thereafter clarified that “PTM itself is not an issue” but that the “few individuals playing in foreign hands are by design exploiting sentiments of the people who have actually suffered at the hands of terrorism and now need care”, which is the very essence of Hybrid War.
Anti-State Information Warfare
This was an important distinction to make since the Color Revolution phase of Hybrid Warfare is driven by a small core of conspirators who work through a comparatively larger cadre of cohorts to mislead the civilian masses and ultimately provoke them into clashes with the authorities. The movement’s organizers can then use those people as de-facto human shields for whenever the state justifiably responds to the unprovoked attacks against them, after which footage of the event can be deliberately decontextualized, misportrayed, and then over-amplified through the mainstream and social medias in order to incite further anti-government unrest that’s intended to catalyze a self-sustaining cycle of destabilization aimed at squeezing various degrees of concessions from the state depending on the escalation. Giving credence to the civilians’ concerns while discrediting the devious intent behind the movement’s foreign intelligence-linked organizers was the right balance for the state to strike.
Nevertheless, it’s precisely because of this pragmatic approach that avoids climbing the expected escalation ladder of the PTM’s domestic and international organizers that some forces have tried to delegitimize it through the Hybrid War on Hybrid War by misportraying the state’s Hybrid War claims as self-interested overreactions by the military like Daud Khattak of the Pashto-language Radio Mashaal for Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty attempted to do in his piece for Foreign Policy magazine titled “The Pakistani Military’s Worst Nightmare Is Coming True“. He makes it seem as though the PTM is the vanguard of an inclusive all-Pakistani movement that’s challenging what he believes is the military’s inappropriate behind-the-scenes role in society, which is why he thinks the armed forces are getting ready for a crackdown against it in order to preserve their hold on power. His dismissive attitude complements the mocking one that some Pakistanis have expressed and altogether advances the implied narrative that there’s supposedly no such thing as the Hybrid War on Pakistan.
Reversing The Roles Of Patriots And Traitors
It can’t be emphasized just how dangerous of a development this is because it makes it seem like Pakistan no longer has any unconventional threats to seriously worry about, and that if anything, the state can’t be trusted to identify them in the first place because it might have “ulterior motives” in doing so like Mr. Khattak hints is the case with what Maj. Gen. Ghafoor recently said about the PTM. In addition, this narrative perversely portrays the treasonous individuals at the top of the PTM’s hierarchy as “patriots” in parallel with suggesting that it’s actually the military itself that’s the “traitors” for going against “the people”. This Hybrid War on Hybrid War capitalizes on the suspicions that some segments of society still have of the establishment even after political outsider Imran Khan’s election last summer and attempts to weaponize populist trends for the purpose of opposing the state. By intentionally confusing the population, these infowar practitioners intend to turn the people against their government ahead of what might be a forthcoming concerted Color Revolution attempt.
The “Coalition Of Malcontent Minorities” vs. Pakistaniat
Geo-demographically speaking, the ultra-diverse state of Pakistan is comprised of a Punjabi core surrounded by a minority-populated periphery, which is an arrangement that the country’s Hybrid War foes endeavor to exploit if they can break the concept of Pakistaniat (“Pakistan-ness”) through externally provoked identity conflict like I warned about in my 2017 conference paper about the “Applicability of Hybrid Warfare to Pakistan: Challenges and Possible Responses” that was published in the Pakistani National Defence University’s official journal. Therein lays the strategic relevancy of the PTM in the eyes of hostile powers because it could serve as the seemingly “peaceful” catalyst for getting people to question Pakistaniat prior to some of the group’s representatives being pushed by their foreign patrons into taking up arms against the state following any forthcoming security crackdown against them in order to militantly try to dismantle this national unity concept like some wayward Baloch have been attempting to do for years already.
From the Indo-American perspective, one of the grand strategic goals of their intelligence agencies is to organize a so-called “coalition of malcontent minorities” among the Pashtuns, Sindhis, and Baloch that could challenge the centrally positioned Punjabis and ultimately extract political concessions from the central state in order to achieve broad Bosnian-like autonomy for each of their regions, which would in effect make Pakistan much easier to divide and rule by foreign powers because of the lack of external effort that would have to be expended to keep inter-ethnic/-regional tensions simmering in that event. That’s not to say that decentralization in and of itself is a foreign plot, but just that implementing it along the aforementioned lines could inadvertently create a situation that would be easier for Pakistan’s enemies to exploit, though this scenario can’t happen so long as the country’s many people still believe in Pakistaniat, which seems to be the true target of the PTM’s foreign intelligence-linked leaders.
Putting It All Together
Being aware of the long-term strategic aims that Pakistan’s enemies are pursuing, the reader can now better understand the deviousness of the Hybrid War on Hybrid War which is predicated on getting people to believe that none of these threats exist and that anyone who warns about them is just a “useful idiot” spreading a “conspiracy theory” that ultimately plays into the military’s self-interested hands at the populations’ “democratic expense”. That’s not the case at all because the reality is that those who dishonestly doubt the existence of the multifaceted Hybrid War on Pakistan are the real useful idiots spreading an actual conspiracy that ultimately plays into the hands of the country’s external enemies at the entire population’s security expense because it lowers their guard and makes it more likely that others might become pawns of these foreign plots hatched by a handful of core members and their cohorts like was previously explained.
The fact of the matter is that Pashtuns have never had it better in Pakistan’s history because one of their own is now the country’s Prime Minister and the military has successfully stamped out previous terrorist threats in their region.
Like all “Global South” countries, there are still local problems in Pakistan that need to be properly addressed by the authorities, which is why Gen. Bajwa was very clear in stating that the PTM itself isn’t an issue whatsoever but that the state’s concern is with the “few individuals (who are) playing in foreign hands (and) are by design exploiting sentiments of the people who have actually suffered at the hands of terrorism.” The majority of those who associate with the PTM are well-intended civilians, but that doesn’t change the fact that their organization is misleading many of them into functioning as the vanguard of a much wider Color Revolution movement that’s the tip of the spear in the larger Hybrid War on Pakistan, which is why its responsible members must disown the group’s treasonous leaders and refuse to participate in any destabilizing activities. If properly and urgently reformed, the PTM could become a valuable part of Pakistan’s developing democracy.
Far from being the “conspiracy theory” that its proponents dismissively claim that it is in order to muddle minds and divert attention from the divide-and-rule goals that they’re really pursuing, the Hybrid War on Hybrid War in Pakistan is disturbingly real and could carry with it very dangerous consequences for the country’s security if more people are deceived into falling for this narrative. There’s no doubt that foreign forces are trying to exploit the majority of the PTM’s well-intended members through the financial relationship that these intelligence agencies have with their leaders, but pretending that this isn’t the case could delegitimize the state’s possibly forthcoming security crackdown against the treasonous individuals within this group and thus attempt to “justify” the terrorism that some of them might resort to afterwards as being “legitimate acts of self-defense against the military dictatorship”. Therefore, the solution is to raise awareness of this particular Hybrid War threat simultaneously with the strengthening of Pakistaniat in order to ensure that the country’s enemies don’t succeed in creating a “coalition of malcontent minorities” and forever weakening national unity.
DISCLAIMER: The author writes for this publication in a private capacity which is unrepresentative of anyone or any organization except for his own personal views. Nothing written by the author should ever be conflated with the editorial views or official positions of any other media outlet or institution.