The scope of war remains the same but the character can evolve with time, which can change the way wars are being fought. The nature and conduct of war changed dramatically during the twentieth century. Twenty-first-century warfare is planned and fought in different dynamics and contexts as compared to the previous century. Modern warfare is the conflict of perceptions and ideas, as well as a cultural and moral conflict, in which the people’s beliefs and perceptions are manipulated to present a false perspective of the world and politics.
South Asia has established itself as an important area of concentration in conflict studies. After all, it is a region that has had five full-scale inter-state battles. The South Asian states, especially India and Pakistan start working on modern weapons and their military leaders are trying to pursue the non-traditional way of pinching each other. In recent years, a visible change can be seen in the military tactics and strategies from both sides. They adopted a combination of military and non-military strategies and start targeting the public through their agendas. The Indian military is facing some technical issues and even the intentional actions of their military and political leadership by executing unplanned military operations in different territories that later on were found as false flag operations. On the other hand, the Pakistani military has maintained the status of responsibility by timely responding to the Indian attacks and they did not make mistakes so far.
The conflict in South Asia is now transformed into perception and psychological operations. Both India and Pakistan after the advent of the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) under Narendra Modi are fighting a perception war in South Asia. Media is a tool used by Modi Government to use black propaganda against Pakistan. A clear example of these incidents is seen in the negative propagation from Arnab Goswami and the Indian media on the use of violence by the Indian Force in IOJ&K. Both states are focused on information warfare and collecting the data of the adversary through spying and using it against them. In this warfare, states are working on psychological warfare and media warfare which includes social media and electronic media. It not only deals with information collection but information that can be altered and delivered in the wrong way to the audience. Media is playing a major role in information warfare. Fifth-generation warfare is known as information warfare. Fifth-generation warfare is the battle of perception management.
Media has a very important role in narrative building. In modern warfare, media is one of the key weapons to attacking the adversary’s population. To make the fifth-generation warfare and hybrid warfare strategies successful, the Indian government is utilizing the platform of media as a battlefield. Media as a tool is being used in hybrid warfare to promote an agenda by spreading fake news and targeting the public. There are some people with extremist mindsets, the agenda created by the media directly target them and they can be misused to create anarchy and unrest in a country. According to Harold Lasswell’s Magic Bullet idea, media messages are directly shot into the minds of the target viewers like a gunshot. The Indian government is spending billions of dollars to run media campaigns against Pakistan because social media could easily target youth. Due to unawareness among the public about the concept and emerging threat of warfare, people became easily a victim of these agendas backed by the enemy state through the media.
The Indian government is using media to spread fake news about Pakistan in front of the international community that Pakistan is a terrorist state and Pakistan exports terror. The Indian government spends nearly 7 billion dollars to run media campaigns against Pakistan by using newspapers, TV, films, Dramas and books. As part of their media campaigns, the Indian government launched many apps sponsored by RAW. Balochi Radio is one of the instruments that spread hate against Pakistan in the people of Baluchistan and RAW officials broadcast the radio channel in the Balochi language. A similar project by the Indian side also named “ZEE SALAM” has the same purpose to target Pakistan’s identity. Like the EU DisinfoLab report, the Indian government is also investing a considerable amount of money to support journalists and international news organizations in an effort to promote their agenda, particularly Pakistani journalists and social activists. Indian RAW has created around 350 fake accounts on social media with Balochi names and they create posts, shared content and speeches against Pakistan. Whenever any post or comment came from journalists and media agencies, these fake profiles comment are shared within seconds.
At the end of 2020, a report was revealed by the world’s largest Disinfo network in which they exposed Indian chronicles. An EU-based DisinfoLab that is based in Brussels was exposed in a 15 years-long operating network against Pakistan by using hundreds of fake media outlets operating in 119 countries to spread fake news and promote India’s agenda against Pakistan. Through the network, India attempted to defame Pakistan by projecting an Indian soft attitude in front of the global community. EU Disinfo Lab’s mission is to monitor and control misinformation efforts that are used to mislead the public about the European Union, its policies, and politicians. An Indian-based news outlet ANI has played its role in promoting and supporting the Indian agenda in the international community.
The government of India on the other hand is trying to isolate Pakistan by spreading fake news and fake agendas against Pakistan through diplomatic means. As mentioned earlier that India is using the platform media to spread their fake agendas across the world and portray Pakistan as a terrorist state, so the international community will stop making agreements with Pakistan. The purpose of isolating Pakistan is to restrict its relation with other states and stop imports and exports agreements with other states. The purpose of creating media campaigns by spreading false news is to isolate the enemy state. Indian Prime Minister- Narendra Modi has once again provided proof of his government’s conspiracies in Pakistan by saying in his speech that they successfully isolated Pakistan and expect China and the whole world to stand with India.
The main target of Indian state-sponsored misinformation has historically been Pakistan. Recently, Indian media has once again begun a poisonous misinformation campaign blaming Pakistan for cross-border terrorism in IIOJK. A clear propaganda pattern can be seen when the Indian media’s coverage of the matter is carefully examined. With the repeal of Articles 370 and 35A in 2019, Indian media began to make claims about a speedy return to normality in the turbulent occupied territory. The inflated assertions made by the Indian military command complemented the nationalist narrative.
Indian media has frequently come under fire because of its irresponsible journalism and promotion of false information, particularly when it comes to anti-Pakistan propaganda. There are several occasions where foreign news outlets such as France 24 and the BBC have highlighted the unethical reporting practices of Indian news outlets. “At least in the Kashmir Valley, there have been zero ceasefire violations,” according to GOC 15 Corps, was underlined by Economic Times.
The conflict between India and Pakistan has been a major hurdle to regional collaboration in South Asia under the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC). The international community has to step up and warn India not to start propaganda efforts against Pakistan through state-sponsored deception. Information warfare in which media is actively being used by India is becoming a most dangerous tool of modern war. The tactics used by India and Pakistan against each other have pushed the region into hybrid warfare which could be the next warfare in the region. Hybrid warfare is fought between India and Pakistan but both have not yet employed extreme measures against each other but they are more inclined towards the media warfare tool. Both states are engaged in hybrid warfare but are not willing to totally undermine the conventional build-ups. By analyzing the evolving trends it can be stated that future wars in South Asia would be hybrid in nature, which is likely to have an adverse impact on strategic stability, and would require hybrid responses to the new threats.
The author has done MS in Strategic Studies from Air University Islamabad and currently teaching as visiting faculty in International Islamic University Islamabad. She writes on South Asian security and strategic issues.