5th Generation Warfare: A Critical Review of Twitter in Pakistan

By Sangeen khan Panezai 

               It is rightly said that warfare in the 21st Century will be governed by hybrid warfare.  Hybrid warfare is primarily a military strategy, aiming at blending the cyber warfare, irregular warfare, political means and even the conventional warfare or it could be largely conceived as   the nonlinear or nontraditional war through multiple techniques against the rival to achieve particular objectives.

Being part of the 5th GW, military strategist claim that hybrid warfare aims at targeting the fault lines of the adversary through a tailor – made narrative encouraging the people to stand up against their leaders and state to overtake the state control.

In this context, social media accounts on social media landscape keep propagating anti-state and mala-fide narratives of enemies of Pakistan. In garb of social activists and bloggers there is an overwhelming number of people with countless followers who, to some extent, to some extenit contribute in inciting hatred against the institutions of the country. A more worrisome fact is that they justify their activities by deeming it as a part of freedom of expression and speech.

Few such accounts which spew venom against state are likes of Gul Bukhari, Hussain Haqqani and their cohorts.

        It may be mentioned here that Gul Bukhari, who is a Pakistani journalist, Freelance, researcher and writer works as columnist with various news websites. She often writes columns against the Pakistan for the Indian news website such as The Quint and The Print, and very often posts political and anti- state posts with overwhelming followers of 345,000. Of late, in the recent past, the government of Prime Minister Imran Khan requested the British government to take action against journalist and social media activist Gul Bukhari for using “British soil for her nefarious activities” against the state of Pakistan while abusing freedom of speech rules and western values. Her cyber activities are reflective of anti-state agenda and often aim at maligning armed forces and the state institutions of Pakistan using British soil.

         Similarly, the government of Pakistan wrote letter to British government, the latter asked the British government to “stop inimical activities” of Gul Bukhari on social media. It further asks the UK government to hold Gul Bukhari “accountable as per law of the land for exploiting freedom of expression, using abusive language and indulging in hate speech”.

Moving forward, Hussain Haqqani, former diplomat who served Pakistan as ambassador to USA, writes specifically against the army his tweets are often replete with vicious and maligning designs. It may be mentioned here that a treason case has been registered against Pakistan’s former ambassador to the United States Hussain Haqqani. Mr. Haqqabi has allegedly conspired against the state during his tenure as ambassador to the USA in 2008.  

In the backdrop of such virulent online activity, the government needs to come up with the counter narratives on all fronts. As these bloggers and activists never miss any opportunity in maligning and defacing army and state institution, the state should be on proactive guards.  Moreover, it is high time to adopt more inclusive, dynamic and coordinated mechanism to tackle the genie that is already out of the bottle through coordinated efforts with twitter. The government needs to develop a liaison with twitter and coordinate with them so that their accounts are downrightly blocked and stopped. The twitter must be informed that their accounts are creating social unrest and their activities are unreservedly in tandem with malicious designs.           

COAS General Qamar Javeed Bajwa, while addressing the 137th PMA Long Course ceremony, was of the view that “Pakistan is facing enormous challenges both in conventional and sub conventional domains, and that “our enemies know they cannot beat us fair and square, and have thus subjected us to a cruel hybrid war which is evil and protracted hybrid war.”   

To sum it up, the transformative nature of warfare demands a robust introspection in its national security strategy. Thus, the situation warrants that Government ought to chalk out a grand strategy or a compressive strategy involving the entire nation to combat the current and potential threats of Hybrid warfare.   

Some of the recommendations to counter this threat are as follows:  

  1. The core objectives of hybrid warfare waged against Pakistan needs to be clearly defined.
  2. Pakistan needs to establish better diplomatic relations, regionally and Internationally, to combat the label of a ‘dysfunctional state’.
  3. Pakistan needs to develop its cyber security abilities by developing

Technologies to protect its data, Artificial Intelligence & interaction and Technology management.

  • Regulation authorities need to regulate the authenticity of information showcased on mass media to combat the use of media by external and internal adversaries to spread false narratives and disinformation/misinformation
  • Pakistan needs to understand that the purpose is to deny the opponent a legal recourse to power, or attract international intervention by utilizing hybrid warfare
  • The military stabilization operations in Pakistan such as Radd-ul-Fasaad need to be conducted to eradicate terrorism and insurgencies within Pakistan
  • Pakistan requires a holistic response involving all stakeholders to counter these complex and unpredictable elements of Hybrid Warfare

                      The writer is a scholar at

 National Defence University, Islamabad. He could be reached at   sangeenk786@gmail.com

DISCLAIMER: The views expressed by author are that of his own and do not reflect Bolan Tribune’s policy.

One comment

  1. Well researched article by a young scholar, Sangeen Khan…. there is a dire need to form a well organized group of alike minded highly sincere, loyal, competent and motivated media persons who can fight a media war under the direction and supervision of ISPR. Well done to writer,,,, hope to see more such articles in future too.

    Colonel Dr Qaim Raza Jaffry (R)
    Ex-Dy Director, Research Supervisor and Faculty… National Defence university Islamabad


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