Hybrid Warfare in A Post-Truth Era: A Case Study of Pakistan


  • Muhammad Waqas PhD scholar, Area Study Centre (Russia, China & Central Asia), University of Peshawar
  • Saeeda PhD scholar Area Study Centre (Russia, China & Central Asia), University of Peshawar. Lecturer Jinnah College for Women, University of Peshawar
  • Dr Khalil Ur Rehman Professor, Area Study Centre (Russia, China & Central Asia), University of Peshawar


Hybrid Warfare, Fifth Generation Conflict, Operational Foreign Policy, Narratives, Counter-Narratives, Lawfare, Technological Diffusion, Creative Imagination



Hybrid warfare is an age-old concept of struggle. The tool-kit in vogue includes narratives, lawfare, viruses, gradual expansion, proxies, surveillance, drones, 5G technologies, economic blackmailing, assassinations, sabotage, subversion, secrecy, surprise, ethnic nationalism, sectarianism, manipulation of intolerance, coercive diplomacy, artificial intelligence, big-data, algorithms and the digital blitzkriegs in the cyber-space. The present context is a post-truth era where emotions prevail creating alternative facts, as opposed to inductive facts. The cognitive process of reasoning revolves around one’s beliefs and not truths. A narcissist control of truth-narrative is central to a crisis of legitimacy. This makes fact-free the contemporary post-truth strategic environment of hybrid warfare, a mixture of conventional and unconventional, plus an analytical construct too. The technological innovations have revolutionized this in an unfamiliar way. The integration of technologies remains. The concept of hybrid warfare resides in a grey-zone between black and white i.e., neither war nor peace. The distinction is blurred. The grey-zone is layered with disinformation, deception, false-narratives and fake-news. The success depends on a cold and logical mind-set in a low-intensity fifth-generation conflict to keep the other off-balance. Operational aims are harmonized with political goals and escalation is avoided. Hybrid warfare is sub-conventional geo-politics that is ambiguous and keeps the targeted perplexed. No response results in tactical defeats, while overplaying a hand ends-up as an irresponsible escalation. Also, information wars have structures that are part of hybrid warfare. Influence operations are directed to influence opinions in a post-truth era. The quality of these is on the rise. Holding one or the other responsible is difficult, not to mention deterring an opponent from playing a hard-ball. For one can escalate or deescalate without being part of it. Hybrid war does not take place in a given time-frame, yet long-term objectives are reached by keeping the pot boiling. Winning it is like winning a marathon that requires grit and resilience. It has emerged as an operational foreign policy instrument among nuclear powers in Eurasia. And an extended South Asia is no exception. Besides, creative imagination acts like a key in the conduct and countering of a hybrid war in a post-truth era. Likewise, a conductor has to be highly imaginative and impersonal to be a winner. Lastly, there is quite an unexplored academic space for the scarcity of literature on the theme. No inductive research has been carried out on the subject as to why Pakistan is not winning and how to win it. Hopefully, this study will be of an academic value for Pakistan which is the target of a hybrid war by India in a post-truth era. The non-experts can take whatever makes them happy, as opposed to a disinterested specialist.