Globalization has made a large contribution to reshaping the dynamics of conflicts in our times; not just its nature but also how to overcome these conflicts have also improvised drastically. Resolutions of conflicts have been sought out by different means at different times. The way that dominated as a part of conflict and resolution was termed ‘war’ with its counterpart being a ‘peaceful resolution’. The most primitive ways to solve a conflict over interests were hand to hand combats being called as battles which for a very long time stayed the major part of the warfare with constant technological improvising. Analysts who discuss the evolution of warfare classified the evolution into generations. First three generations were dominated by the battle part of the warfare which transitioned from hand to hand, phalanx system, organized line and column clashes to breech-loaders and gunpowder. The late modern technology-derived tactics of leveraging the speed, stealth and surprise to bypass the enemy’s lines and collapse their forces from the rear revolutionized the warfare. The cold war marked the beginning of a new generation of warfare. It encompassed warfare tactics with diplomatic means, blurring the lines between war and politics, combatants and civilians. It immediately became the most appropriate choice of conflict resolution due to the introduction of nuclear weapons and the balance of power.
Today, the analysts have agreed that the current era is the era of fifth-generation warfare. It is the most complex of all warfare generations as there is so much ambiguity in defining it due to its vast domain. Marine Lt Col Stanton Coerr described it as a generation of warfare “espoused by [the likes of] al Qaeda… with aspirations of setting up alternative political systems… they’re opportunists, intent only on destruction. But even pointless violence can have a perverse logic, for the sudden, irrational destruction undermines the idea that nations… are viable in the modern world.” This can be achieved by creating frustration among the masses or creating a conflict in ideologies and identities.
The central domain of this type of warfare is its linkage to the narrative building. It is an ideological war that existed for quite some time but was never as effective as it has become today through modern technology. It has become the most decisive tool of all time to amass a huge volume of people with conflicting notions. It has contributed to impact on the integrity of the nation-state drastically. Narrative wars are being used to reshape society’s cultural and social dimensions by distorting ideological harmony; it affects society’s psychological aspects as well. First, by using propagating platforms, mainly media and social media, narratives are thrown into the discourse. Then, if they do not directly change a group’s ideology, they would push them into the realm of confusions, which can then be shaped into conflicting narratives by the aid of social, political and psychological uncertainties.
Once the ideological harmony is lost, the integrity of the state is devastatingly affected, and it becomes vulnerable to political instability and possible uproars coherent with the motives of their enemies. These ideological shifts sweep in due to many other factors; such as weak statecraft, economic crisis and rise of ethnocentrism. The countries based on some ideological foundations having cultural diversity take the strongest blow. These ideological confusions can be introduced as civil-military disagreements, notions of a threat to democracy or debates over incompetency of the government.
Today the dynamism of such wars is catalyzed by media. The dominant states cross the line of cyberbullying and employ talking heads that push their narratives against their counterparts; the developing and third world countries. Multiple tactics are used to undermine the narrative of the conflicting regions, and falsely reconstructed narratives are hyped for mass influence. Notions that can swiftly transform into heated debates are floated on social media platforms not just to design the next strategy but also to find loopholes in the psycho-socio structure of the nations. Partially permeable structure of cyberspace allows the dominant tech-world to control the flow of information. Sometimes excessive information is rapidly flown into cyber-space, and sometimes it is held to create disarray in thought processes and formulate confusions. It has been made possible today, like never before, by the advancements in communication technology to take the masses on a roller coaster of emotions, completely overwhelming their rational and intuitive insight to apprehend the information, hence contributing to the propaganda wars and programmed revolutions.
Implications for Pakistan & Kashmir Issue
Pakistan is becoming increasingly vulnerable to such ideological and narrative wars; one of the biggest reasons is its ideological foundations. Other reasons include its existence as the only Islamic nuclear power, its key geographic location, extremely sensitive Kashmir issue and the rise of identity politics in the state which is in conflict with Pakistan over Kashmir issue. Kashmir forms an integral part of Pakistan and has ideological ties with it. No efforts are being wasted to cut through this ideological connection and undermine the narrative of self-determination. The dominant role is being played by the media. International diplomatic pressures and social confusions are constantly being thrown at Pakistan, which is a key South Asian country.
Despite the efforts, it has become the need of the hour for the media not just to be the vanguard of the ideology and narrative of Pakistan but also to revive the ideological connections it has with Kashmir. It has not only become immensely important that the narrative of Kashmir be brought to global attention and the ground realities are brought to the surface and to highlight with factual information the destitution Kashmir has been brought down to. 5GW is all about ideas; how these ideas are going to be presented is going to be the way forward. Information technology will be of utmost importance to keep the nation on the same ideological page. Keeping the nation on the same ideological page with emotional tools and timely events will have a lasting effect on the connections Pakistan has with Kashmir and its people with fact-based academic efforts and awareness.
The revival of Pakistan’s ideological basis would be the key factor to promote the strengthening of the social fabric and save the nation from ethnic conflicts. It would be required to relate how ideological coherence among the nation can stabilize the social, political and economic situation, which reduces their vulnerability to wars of narrative and their adverse effects.