COPAIR organized a webinar “Hybrid Warfare: The Changing Dynamics of Conflict, War and National Security”


Center of Pakistan and International Relations hosted a virtual conference today to gather insights from the technical experts and policymakers related to hybrid warfare and its implications on national security. A diverse panel comprising of five experts from the USA, UK, Lithuania and Pakistan was part of the discussion and they shared the conceptual understanding, International law perspective, academic approaches, and case studies of hybrid warfare in a 2-hour long session.
Eminent policymakers, members of diplomatic circle, military and academic community participated in the session and asked questions pertaining to the national and individual security emanating from the incorporation of hybrid warfare by nation-states against their adversaries. This session was part of the series of conferences COPAIR has been hosting from last two years and it will result in the form of policy recommendations which will be provided to the national security-related public institutions.

Awais Siddique was the moderator of the session. He commenced the session with the introduction of COPAIR and then shared a brief presentation about the evolution of the hybrid warfare terminology, prevalent grey zone challenges faced by Pakistan and the efforts of security regime to counter these challenges. Awais also highlighted that with emergence of critical technologies, hybrid threats are also increasing and they are posing a challenge to human security and international order; therefore, there is need for confidence building measures by nation states and international regimes can act as a facilitator in overcoming these threats.

Brian L. Steed, an Associate Professor from Command and General Staff College USA, was the first speaker of the session, he talked about Narrative Warfare, and it’s relevant to the hybrid warfare. In his presentation, Brian shared the different forms of narratives, such as core, societal and transient narratives. He also shared the case of ISIS which exploited the competing narratives in Iraq and legitimized their ones. He concluded replying to a question related to Pakistan and stating that there is need for giving space to different narratives and approaching towards a national narrative in a holistic manner.

Alaa Al Aridi, hailing from Lithuania and originally a Lebanese International Public Law expert and a PhD researcher at Vilnius University drew attention towards role of international law in mitigating the new hybrid threats such as cyber and non-state actors. Focus of his speech was the hybrid warfare under the principles of Jus Ad Bellum (justification, reasons and prevention of war) and Jus in Bello (law that governs the way in which warfare is conducted). He was of view that there is a need of due diligence to counter the cases of becoming a victim state for a cyber-attacks on a third country. He concluded by saying that there is a need for cooperation in all fields, nationally and internationally, to overcome the hybrid threats.

Dr Masood Khattak, Lecturer of Politics and International Relations at International Islamic University Islamabad shared his comprehensive presentation on the Indian hybrid warfare strategy and challenges for Pakistan. He started by sharing the Kautilya’s definition of war, tactics applied by India against Pakistan, surgical and deep strikes, and Ajit Doval’s offensive doctrine against Pakistan. Dr Khattak also highlighted the efforts of Pakistan’s military forces like counter terror operations and border fencing to counter these hybrid threats. He concluded by recommending that there is a need of effective counter intelligence operations, socio-economic development in affected regions, need to establish a counter narrative, and regional/global diplomatic maneuvering to counter India’s offensive and coercive diplomacy.

Ofer Fridman, Lecturer at Kings College London, was the last panelist who shared his intriguing and unique perspective about hybrid warfare as a concept. He was of view that there is a need of conceptual clarity and stamp out the overlapping and erratic definition of hybrid warfare. He stressed that war is itself hybrid and all elements incorporated by NATO and other actors in the realm of hybrid war are more related to the grand strategy of a nation.

Amna Malik, the President of Center of Pakistan and International Relations (COPAIR) concluded the session with commending the efforts of Pakistan military forces in countering Indian hybrid threats and asked panelists to share their recommendations for Pakistan in this sphere. She also extended her gratitude to the diverse group of panellists and participants and encouraged that there is need to do more such as focusing on grey areas where there is still room for adversaries to maneuver and to safeguard Pakistan’s national interest.

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