Pakistan and China, in continuation of their relentless adversarial military positions against India, have now appeared to switched over to strategies of hybrid warfare. This can be seen as an attempt to arrest India’s noticeable geopolitical and military rise with the coming of Indian PM Narendra Modi in 2014.
Hybrid Warfare can be defined as a military strategy which uses a blend of political warfare, conventional warfare, irregular warfare and cyber warfare along with other manipulative methods such as fake news, diplomacy and foreign electoral intervention.
Pakistan and China hesitate to indulge in any conflict-escalation due to the prevailing global environment that is clearly in favour of India. In such circumstances, hybrid warfare seems like a fitting strategy to keep India militarily occupied and weaken it from within.
Pakistan and China not only have convergent geopolitical goals but their strategies to attain those goals are also very similar. Both seek to end PM Modi led NDA Government. Under PM Modi’s robust leadership India has become a force to be reckoned with. Globally, India is perceived as a counterweight against China’s rise with consequent policy implications for Pakistan.
India under PM Modi has dispensed with the timid appeasement foreign policy approach followed by the Congress Government vis-a-vis Pakistan and China from 2004-14. Pakistan stands sidelined by India and China continues to suffer embarrassment in standoffs with the Indian forces such as in the 2018 Doklam standoff.
The surgical strikes and the more recent attacks carried out in Balakot by the Indian forces as retaliation to terrorist bombings from the Pakistani side are an indication that India would no longer timidly bow down to such enemy provocations.
China has played an insidious role in South Asia and at global forums like the United Nations through diplomacy warfare and electoral intervention in other countries. This ranges from its stand on Kashmir issue in the United Nations to shielding Pakistani terrorists from being designated as Global Terrorists.
Like in the past China has continued to defend Pakistan from being blacklisted by FATF even as other major powers wish to do so.
China has always feared India’s diplomatic rise and has strongly opposed India’s claims of being included as a Permanent Member of the UN Security Council. China has similarly opposed India’s memberships of the Nuclear Suppliers Group and other similar global organisations.
In South Asia, China has always tried to sideline India and further Pakistan’s cause. It’s no secret that Pakistan has a major fall-out with India rendering SAARC as redundant.
There is a long history of foreign electoral intervention in India’s General Elections as well as States Assembly elections that goes back to the time when the USSR reportedly assisted in PM Indira Gandhi’s election victories. But in 2020 the danger of Chinese intervention in Indian elections is even more considerable.
There is a great possibility of Pakistan and China’s influence in the run-up to India’s 2019 general elections when PM Modi ran for his second term. There are allegations of an attempted political reach out to India’s Opposition party leaders by Pakistan and China by their Ambassadors in India.
Besides this, there were invitations to the leaders of opposition parties to pay visits to Lahore and Lhasa on the pretext of seminars or visits to Mansarovar. Media celebrities especially those reputed to be unfriendly towards the ruling party have also been the targets of such influencing operations.
If one was to analyse the recent violent agitations against the Citizenship Amendment Act (CAA) in predominant Indian Muslim areas in Delhi, Meerut, Aligarh and Lucknow and the preceding aggressive students agitations in Left-dominated universities like Jawaharlal Nehru University, Jamia Millia Islamia University, University of Delhi and Jadavpur University it becomes quite apparent that both Pakistan and China’s hands are at play in their hybrid warfare strategy against India.
Despite the temporary drop in economic growth, India under PM Modi has considerably narrowed the military differentials in comparative military power with China and can be stated to have regional predominance over Pakistan with its ‘Nuclear Triad’ notwithstanding Pakistan’s increasing nuclear weapons arsenal. India’s war preparedness has notched many places up in terms of its war-wastage reserves.
Pakistan and China’s convergent aims of seeking a regime change in India get echoed in the position adopted by India’s political Opposition parties like the Congress Party and the Communist Party(M). The Congress and Communist parties seem to have adopted this strategy in order to maintain relevance in the political scene in India after suffering a debacle in both 2014 and 2019 general elections. Interestingly, instead of advocating restraint, both Congress and CPI-M leaders were seen supporting the JNU and Jamia Millia violence and the arson resorted to by Indian Muslim groups in Shaheen Bagh, Meerut and Lucknow.
The above congruence of interests between Pakistan and China synchronising with India’s political Opposition parties provides a good opportunity to these two countries in unleashing their hybrid warfare strategies against India. There is no doubt about the fact that the ire of India’s political Opposition is targeted against the persona of PM Narendra Modi and Home Minister Amit Shah.
The political warfare carried out by Pakistan and China against India as a part of their hybrid warfare can be most noticeably seen in play in the strident and defiant position adopted by the people at Shaheen Bagh that has created an explosive law and order situation. It is also evident from the venomous anti-India rhetoric indulged in daily on English TV Channels by questionable Indian Muslim panellists and Leftists professors from different Universities.
They stand encouraged by Congress Party and Leftists leaders who are crying foul about the supposed dangers posed to the Constitution by the Modi government. The reality, however, is something different and is actually impelled by Congress and Left parties’ desperate urge to hold on to their traditional vote banks.
It is sad that parties like the Congress and CPI-M have not hesitated in politicising India’s national security challenges. It is these political trends offer ideal conditions for Pakistan and China to further their hybrid warfare strategies against India in multiple manifestations.
One cannot rule out China’s hand in JNU, DU and Jadavpur University all of which are abound with Professors of Communist ideology. Many of these Professors and scholars are known to spew venom not only against PM Modi but against the Hindu ideology in more general. Such demonising indicates the fears that Pakistan and China have about the rise of Hindu nationalism and the resulting unity in India.
Both Pakistan and China have been involved in irregular warfare with India including state-sponsored terrorism by Pakistan extending from Kashmir to Kanyakumari and Mumbai to Assam. China cannot deny its role in fomenting trouble in the sensitive North Eastern regions of India and the Maoists insurgencies in the ‘Red Corridor’.Time and again China has been involved in the hacking of the websites of sensitive Indian installations however much it may deny. China’s cyber warfare threat is serious enough to impel the Indian Government to set up dedicated organisations to counter it.
In recent times especially in the run-up to 2019 general elections, India was affected by an overflow of fake news making the rounds of both social media and mainstream media. This was not possible had sections of Indian media not become handmaidens of those opposed to India’s interests. Many including senior Congress leaders have made wild charges against PM Modi and created false fears of what they call “Saffron Terror”.
More markedly fake news is employed to malign the Indian Army and to reduce the effectiveness of its counter-terrorism operations against Pakistani proxies and their sympathisers. False stories of rape and human rights violations are often raised to discredit the Indian Army.
Finally what needs to be understood by an average Indian is that in the 21st century the possibility of a conventional war against India is a dangerous gamble that no one would like to indulge in given the international repercussions of such an action. Therefore countries have resorted to hybrid warfare that serves the same strategic ends.
In conclusion, it’s not difficult to see that the task of these adversarial nations clearly aims at influencing operations in India by creating political distrust against a robust Indian regime.
Analysis By Subhash Kapila. Edited By Kiran Gujar. Views Personel