Non-kinetic warfare, or “Fifth-generation of war,” is a concept introduced by Robert Steele in 2003. This “war of information and perception” (as defined by Danial Abbot) involves the use of social networks, media campaigns, and artificial intelligence. It is to maneuver the views of people toward their country and makes use of the aforementioned tools to spread misinformation, and hence, people will start abhorring their homeland. It also indoctrinates the minds of people and sets their perceptions as desired.
In this cold war, “Data-the new oil” has proven to be weaponry over and again, where the enemies are not seen, wars are not fought, and the target is not the soldiers, but the youth. The new commodity which is being exploited for political gains, monetary benefits, and national unrest and aversion is actually data.
Below we will mention some of the impacts of Fifth-generation warfare on Pakistan.
The country which stands at 3rd place in the Win/gallop survey and where 89% of its nationals are ready to sacrifice their lives for their nation, Fifth-generation warfare is becoming the silent killer in our society. Holding the wrong end of the stick and spreading misinformation about the security situation, creating hype on the undergoing economic crises, and unnecessarily accentuating the social dilemmas, are influencing the minds of our younger generation.
As media cells run by anti-Pakistan agencies manipulate facts and alter realities, the execration towards their country grows with each passing day.
The long-lost Pakistani culture, which was ingrained in every Pakistani born until the early 2000s, is heading into a moral conflict where right and wrong are clouded. The stupor about our ethical values and perplexing Islamic beliefs are a result of this Fifth-generation warfare.
A practical example of this phenomenon, which has recently swept through our culture like wildfire, can be observed at our weddings: the wedding attire and the dance performances are all influenced by the West, while the Eastern culture is responsible for the dowry tradition.
Culture can be split into 2 categories; material and non-material. Material Culture is the use of technology and tools for economic uplift. Non-material aspects encircle the general norms, beliefs; and morals. For example, the cellphone is an entity in material culture and how we use it is non-material culture. Unfortunately, Pakistan’s material culture is failing, and its non-material culture is also drifting from Islamic principles and moral views.
Destabilization of Economy:
The trickle-down effect which ensures the allocation of resources from the elite to the deprived ones has been endorsed for years, however, the effect is not virtually seen in the nation. It seems like reverse trickling is happening, with the rich becoming richer and the poor becoming poorer. As a result, the economically deprived become the tools of Fith-generation warfare and are manipulated at all levels. Nationally, the opposition parties destabilize those ruling the country, get the political gains, and secure their position and internationally the unavoidable enemies to create chaos among the masses on the basis of Islamization, creating a false image of their security forces and law and order situation; thus resulting in silent and gradual wreckage of the economy of Pakistan.
The tools of Fifth-generation warfare can be vandalized for political interests. The media cells owned by the elites in power and opposition leave no stone unturned in criticizing bad governance, corruption, and character assassinating the opponents on the front page while the story behind is somewhat different; undermining the contenders and securing their positions and political interests. Who wins and who loses this political chaos; the ultimate loser in this game is nonetheless our country.
A Classical example of this silent war is spreading misinformation about the polio vaccine. Pakistan is one of the countries where Poliovirus is still endangering the lives of our children. In 2019, 147 cases were reported but the number was reduced to 84 in 2020 and as of July 2022, only 14 cases have surged. Why is it so? The tools of Fifth-generation warfare have spread misinformation regarding the ethics and safety of the polio vaccine, while the utmost efforts by the government to eradicate polio are highly appreciable. WHO EMRO report
To fulfill their missions, the foes of the state have attributed the same to the Shia-Sunni conflict, the unjustifiable marginalization of minorities, as well as fueled other ethical differences.
Lack of trust in National security:
During the past few years, the continuing efforts by hostile media cells have been witnessed to turn our nation against our security forces. The lack of trust in our military is, to some extent, attributed to the silent weapons used by the stakeholders of Fifth-generation warfare. As a result, not only there is a trust deficit between the military and the masses, but also among the security personnel themselves, which jeopardizes national security.
How to counter Fifth-Generation Warfare:
It is the need of the hour to address this leaching progression of Fifth-generation warfare in our country. The following steps can be used in order to hinder the propagation of misinformation.
- Direct contact between the government and the censorship board of social media giants operating in the country.
- Continuous monitoring of the viral data, gaining access to the point of origin and holding them accountable.
- The government monitored social media alternatives-though this may raise concerns about freedom of speech- but advancing technology side by side and offering economical solutions can be welcomed by the population. Eg in China, WeChat is used as a Facebook alternative and Baidu instead of google. And the world is continually witnessing the technological and economic advancements of the country.
- Creating awareness to halter the spread of information before verification.
Mark Hatfield, an American politician and educator once said;
“Unless we have well-educated people,
We are vulnerable on our national security”
The key to combat FGW lies in this quote.