Counter psychological warfare policy? – by Shiraz Paracha

Reportedly four to five people attacked the residency building in Ziarat, Baluchistan.  The number of militants and suicidal bombers is small. Out of nearly 200 million residents of Pakistan suicidal bombers and militants could be no more than a few thousands. Nevertheless, one suicidal bomber or militant causes huge human and physical damage. Their masters’ larger aim, however, is to create deeper and long lasting  psychological effects.

Pakistan’s panicky and sensationalist media further exasperate the situation. Our knee-jerk reaction to such incidents helps in creating a sense of chaos and insecurity. This is exactly what masterminds of war games want, and it is the desired goal of any psychological warfare strategy.

The aim of destroying an old building associated with last days of Jinnah was to create shock and it was more symbolic. Our reaction proves that we have helped the militants to achieve their goal.

The Pakistani military had applied guerrilla and psychological warfare techniques in the 1980s Afghan Jihad and later in the Afghan civil war, now the same has comeback to Pakistan.

There should be no doubt that the United States and its NATO allies have been applying psyops and are engaged in guerrilla warfare against Pakistan. It is possible that the U.S is using local Islamic groups by supporting them indirectly against Pakistan. But the fact is that NATO and U.S troops wouldn’t be here if few Pakistani generals were not involved in misadventures. Pakistan is now paying the price for the blunders of its military Junta.

Surprisingly Pakistan doesn’t seem to have a counter psyops policy. There is lack of trust among different state organs. The military establishment has been formulating Pakistan’s security policies without consulting the civilians and without any real debate or discussion. The Kargil fiasco was a glaring example of the generals’ poor judgment. The military establishment doesn’t consider itself answerable to anyone but when mishaps like Kargil, Abbottabad operation or acts of terrorism occur, instead allowing investigation and finding facts blame game and finger pointing start.

The tendency to shift responsibility as well as the causal, non-serious and irresponsible attitude at the highest level have turned Pakistan into playing field  for foreign and local war games.

Counter psyops and guerrilla war strategy requires a careful and calculated policy. The Parliament should urgently form a powerful committee with the task to come up with a coherent and comprehensive counter psychological warfare strategy. A strategy that is not based on reaction or use of force only. Besides parliamentarians, security and psyops experts, strategists and academics should be members of the Committee. Only this Committee should be authorized to propose the national security agenda and set goals of the national defense policy.

(Shiraz Paracha is a journalist, who also teaches psyops and propaganda at university level).