By: Abdul Rasool Syed

“There is no power on earth that can undo Pakistan” — Quaid-e Azam

Balochistan, the El Dorado of Pakistan and a province of high geostrategic, geo-economic and geopolitical importance, seems witnessing the fifth generation warfare. In fact, this war has been choreographed by our adversaries to destabilize Pakistan. The province of Balochistan, which provides a fertile ground to sow the seeds of such war owing to its backwardness, has been chosen as a launching pad for this non-conventional, lethal fight against our beloved country.

Here the question arises: what is the fifth generation warfare, how it is different from conventional wars and why it is resorted to? To answer these, we need to first understand the previous concepts of war like first, second, third and fourth generation warfare.

First generation war depended on manpower: a large number of muscular and strong men fighting physically. Second generation war depended on artillery and superior firepower – epitomized by World War I. World War II marked the third generation warfare that was characterized by synchronized air, sea and ground operations. The evolved form of insurgency warfare witnessed during the Chinese Revolution and later in wars in Vietnam and Afghanistan has been termed as the fourth generation warfare. This kind of war is waged by non-state actors and asymmetric warriors employing terrorism as a tool to achieve their political objectives.

Fifth generation warfare is the latest in this series and it is entirely different from all other previously practiced forms of war. The tactics and paraphernalia of this type of war are modern as well as deadly. It begins as a psychological warfare and, at a final stage, snowballs into a full-scale physical war. It is triggered when it becomes impossible for a country to force the opponent country into submission through direct use of force.

Therefore, in the fifth generation warfare, the technique of propaganda warfare is employed to spread anarchy, chaos and desperation. Resultantly, the unity of the nation is shattered and the people are divided into different small factions, establishing, thereby, parallel governments; writ of the state no longer exists and the law of the land is breached with impunity.

To achieve the objectives through this type of warfare, people of the target country are divided on sectarian, ethnic and linguistic lines. They are pitched against even their own security institutions. This very situation ultimately culminates into a civil war. Furthermore, mistrust in and aversion to the armed forces of the country is excessively fostered. Consequently, army that serves as lifeblood for any country gets no public support to perpetuate its operations against the enemies of the state. In the aftermath, the country’s invincibility is severely damaged – this is what we call the internal manoeuvres employed by a foe country to advance its villainous aims to eviscerate the victim country internally.

Externally, the conspiracies are hatched in order to isolate the target country in the comity of nations. Notably, in this war, social media becomes a key weapon for the enemies to spread disinformation and revulsion against the target country. Subsequently, that county is divested of any international succour. In this situation, the adverse forces march on to establish their hegemony over that country.

Moreover, poverty, economic deprivation and political injustices also breed the fifth-generation warriors. According to a US army major Shannon Beebe, this kind of warfare would be motivated by frustration than any other material or ideological objective. Therefore, the frustration of the local people caused by political, social and economic deprivation is excessively exploited by the enemies to further their Machiavellian agenda.

Now, if we take the current situation of Balochistan into account, it becomes vivid that all the ingredients of the fifth generation warfare abundantly exist in the resource-laden yet backward province of Pakistan. The recent brutal attacks on Hazara community as a result of growing religious extremism and sectarianism, fanning of the flames of secession, increasing economic deprivation and political dissonance over major national issues accompanied with mounting frustration among the masses are the facts which, when kept together, utterly insinuate that we are facing a coup de main of the fifth generation warfare in Balochistan.

Balochistan, by virtue of its geography and resources, has always remained centre of attraction for international powers. The imperialists are always in a quest to gain control over this part of our country. Here, they find a suitable environment to launch any malicious campaign against Pakistan. There are a number of reasons behind choosing Balochistan for this purpose; the first and the foremost being the socioeconomic backwardness of the region. As mentioned above, socioeconomic backwardness of a country serves the interests of its enemies in the fifth generation warfare; that’s why Balochistan is an ideal place for our enemies to further their anti-Pakistan agenda.

According to the latest UNDP report, Balochistan maintains the lowest Human Development Index (HDI) points (0.421) whereas Punjab has the highest (0.732), followed by Sindh (0.640) and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (0.628). In addition, Balochistan also has the lowest living standard levels – 33.9 percent. Punjab, Sindh and KP have 83 percent, 67.6 percent and 67.1 percent, respectively. In the realm of poverty, Balochistan is the poorest with 0.394 points, followed by KP at 0.25 points, Sindh at 0.231 points and Punjab being the least poor with 0.152 points.

Likewise, education and health sectors, which, undoubtedly, are the key components of the human development index, depict an abysmally dismal picture. Despite tall claims of the government of imposing educational emergency, the standard of education in Balochistan shows zero improvement; it, at present, maintains a literacy rate of 41 percent – lowest among all the provinces of Pakistan.

Similarly, Balochistan’s health sector is also in a deplorable condition. A large number of people die every year due to non-availability of basic health facilities. Regrettably, there is no state-of-the-art hospital in the whole province. Therefore, the poverty-stricken people of Balochistan are compelled to go to Karachi and other cities for treatment of even minor diseases.

Politically, Balochistan is ruled by tribal chiefs and feudal lords. They, due to their large land-holdings, exert enormous influence on people in their respective constituencies. Resultantly, only they reach the corridors of power, and that too without any hindrance.

On the contrary, federal parties like PML (N), PPP, PTI show a lukewarm interest in the politics of Balochistan. Ironically, the former Prime Minister Mian Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, who was the chief executive of whole Pakistan, used to visit the country’s biggest and the most sensitive province only biannually and these visits were only CPEC-centric – to inaugurate some projects in Gwadar. Such unprecedented apathy on the part of a prime minister makes the inhabitants of province feel alienated and politically orphaned.

This very situation provides the separatist movements – BLA, BLF and other like-minded groups – with a ground to promote centrifugal tendencies among the frustrated people. These separatists are poised to form a synergy with the fifth-generation warriors since the interests of both the groups (to destabilize Pakistan) complement each other. This, indubitably, is a lethal combination to fight with. This is exactly what is happening in Balochistan, at present.

All these dynamics make Balochistan extremely important for our internal stability as well as external security. Let me borrow a few lines from the recent book “Spy Chronicles” that has been co-authored by Asad Durrani (former Director General of ISI) and A.S. Dulat (his counterpart in India’s RAW) to substantiate my viewpoint. While discussing the importance of Balochistan, Asad durrani writes: “[I]t is an important area for different purposes. Some are there to blow up the pipeline Iran and Pakistan want to build or to sabotage the economic corridor; others because they don’t want to miss out on what the first lot are planning. The place is crucial for the “New Great Game”.

To counter this malevolent game plan, we, as a nation, should be excessively cautious of what is happening in Balochistan and formulate a multi-faceted, holistic strategy to cope with this type of warfare.

To this end, we will have to first set our own house in order. Unity is the need of the hour as the famous saying goes “United We Stand, Divided We Fall”. We should think as a nation beyond our parochial interests and petty differences and put an end to our ethnic and linguistic scrimmages. Both Pashtoon and Baloch are sons of the soil; both should understand the conspiracies of our foes that are there to make us fight so as to further their nefarious interests.

In addition, sectarianism and extremism should also be dealt with an iron hand. The proscribed organizations must not be allowed to operate under any other name or mould. Friday sermons which contain virulent contents must be regulated after the pattern followed by Saudi Arabia, UAE and Turkey.

Most importantly, the government must show a consuming passion to deal with the socio-politico-economic affairs of the province. Unless these issues are resolved, we cannot win this undeclared, catastrophic fifth generation war. If we want to scupper the plans of our enemies, we need to organize our people politically, socially and economically. “Come forward as servants of Islam,” said our great Quaid Muhammad Ali Jinnah, “organize the people economically, socially, educationally and politically and I am sure that you will be a power that will be accepted by everybody”… after all, “there is no power on earth that can undo Pakistan.”

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