Information warfare is the latest trend of 5th generation warfare . Human beings have under gone a constant process of evolution through the history. The first ever civilization was seen when the superior race of this planet, The Humans, learnt to grow crops and domesticate animals. As they began to acquaint themselves with the new techniques of finding a reliable source of food and shelter, the communities grew immensely. And as the societies emerged, problems became more complex and ultimately it resulted in the full scale wars. The entire human history has been categorized in 3 major revolutions I.e. Agricultural revolution, Industrial Revolution, and the latest one, Information Revolution. Each of these have where significantly affected the human lives, and have also affected the ways of war. It is believed that both the world wars were the affects and the cause was Industrial revolution. But, the era we are living today, has introduced the latest form of war “Information Warfare”, which in my opinion is the most effective and on the other hand most destructive as well.
“If a lie is often told enough, people will begin to see the lie as the truth”.
Nazi Propaganda Minister, Joseph Goebbels
What is information warfare?
Things have changed significantly since the end of World War 2 in general, and after the collapse of USSR in particular. We all know that war costs economy. And today’s world is all about it. The interesting thing is that today the conflicts are only based on economic gains and losses. A country can simply not risk to go bankrupt by posing a full-fledged war against its foes. Here comes, a slightly old, the insurgency doctrine where the countries hire the expendable locals and use them for their vested interests. But the newest form is information warfare in which a narrative is built using the mainstream but more frequently, social media.
Information warfare constitutes on building a narrative by spreading false information or ideas for the purpose of influencing feelings or actions. And in majority of the cases it has the negative connotation. It costs almost nothing in comparison to conventional warfare but the damage it inflicts takes decades or in some cases generations to wipe.
In the recent developments on the international arena, a high level Russian defense official stated that Russia has built a separate division for information operations whose sole purpose is to spread propaganda in the best national interest. It’s not just Russia, but almost everybody is indulged in the process, and for more than two decades now.
Is Pakistan a victim of Information warfare?
YES! Insurgency nowadays is backed and strengthened by building a corresponding narrative in the minds of people. Pakistan is one of the fastest growing market of social media users but unfortunately, due to illiteracy and lack of awareness a huge chunk of these people are very easy to manipulate. Apart from this, the technology has vanished the constraint of borders and offered a cover of anonymity which has led this problem escalate. If you are able to create a doubt in the minds of people about who is the right side, government or insurgents? Half of your job is done. A chain process has been initiated in which anti-state mindset is given space to flourish.
One of the most recent example of propaganda or in modern terms, narrative building, is the recent wave of terrorism. As soon as the country was shaken by the series of bomb blasts after a long period of peace, social media was flooded with racial content against the Pushtoons. Horrific pictures and videos were seen surfacing on Facebook and other news portals allegedly depicting the barbaric actions of Punjabis against Pushtoons. All of it turned out to be fake. It was almost the similar kind of profiling that was carried out against the state way back in 1971, only difference being that the state was somehow culprit back then but definitely NOT NOW! As mentioned earlier, the majority of the Pakistanis using social media are too credulous to see the difference between facts and propaganda. Hence, very easy to manipulate.
When the common people are against the state then a nation goes through a phase of self-destruction and no effort is required by anyone to take down the country, its own inhabitants are enough.
How to build a counter-narrative?
I don’t know if the government is too naive to consider information warfare a genuine threat for the national security or it is too busy on so many other fronts that this issue is neglected altogether. There is no effort on the part of government to counter the propaganda being spread by anti-state elements. Nevertheless, this needs to be taken care of, if not by the government then by people who have the access to the information platforms commonly known as “Keyboard warrior”.
The problem is that most of the nationalist keyboard warrior do not understand what nationalism IS in its truest sense. They are absurd about their own concept of nationalism. If anyone questions a state policy or some actions of a state institution, without giving it a rational thought, they bang the person with the label of “Traitor” and in extreme cases “Kafir”. There may be a chance that the person may actually be following some foreign agenda or he could just be a patriot with a slightly different definition of nationalism than yours. BUT, instead of supporting the argument with logic and proof, they go the most convenient way of branding people with these titles. And it is a reason why nobody pays a heed to who you call a traitor or a kafir now.
These are the reasons why the anonymous string-pullers do not consider the keyboard warriors a threat to their objectives, while they can be a quite a compulsive force. World is changing more rapidly than we can think of. Insurgency, counter-insurgency doctrines are evolving with every passing day. You cannot fight the foreign propaganda with the same conventional branding strategy. Bring logic, sense and if possible, proof to your arguments. Talk your naive friends and circle of influence out of this newest form of warfare. Educate your people about it through whatever the source accessible to you TV, internet, radio etc.
If state is doing nothing about it, then it is obligatory for each and every one of us who have the understanding of the developments taking place in our surroundings. For you may blame the state for sitting idle afterwards, but it will be our country who will suffer at the end. And no true son of soil can see this happening.
Today it is not the time when only front line soldiers have to defend their country. The war has reached at our doorsteps. This is the war of our ideology, our culture, our religion and our country. Get up Keyboard Warriors! Your country needs you…
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