‘Pakistan Fighting Fifth Generation War’

Pakistan’s battle-hardened military faces yet another challenge: this time it’s 5th Generation war –also known as hybrid warfare. No other than the country’s army chief Gen. Bajwa said so on the country’s Defense Day today (September 6).

“We are well aware of this threat and will, God willing, win it”, the “intellectual General” said.


According to Mohsin Durrani, an independent analyst with interests in Regional and International Affair, “Fifth-generation warfare (5GW) is the battle of perceptions and information. 5GW is also a cultural and moral war, which distorts the perception of the masses to give a manipulated view of the world and politics”.

In his opinion, the five generations of warfare can be labeled as: 1GW: War of Line and Column. 2GW: Trench Warfare. 3GW: Maneuver Warfare. 4GW: Irregular Warfare (Guerilla war). 4GW vs. 5GW: Difference between 4GW and 5GW is of Motives, Technology and Empowered Individuals.

How does the “intellectual General’s” doctrine of “enduring stability” weigh in the 5GW battle of minds mix. “The problem is that the realization may lie with the khakis, but the antidote lies in whole of the nation’s approach/effort,” said a senior defense official on condition of anonymity (as he’s not authorized to comment officially).

Is the whole nation/major stakeholders on board with the khakis? “My doubts for whatever reasons, personal/political,” says the official. In his view, “we will keep muddling through for a long time”.

He thinks the country may not be all prepared for the 5GW. “Not sure,” he responded when asked to comment.

The local media (specially electronic media) is in a tizzy, say some observers.

“Revenue-wise it’s been in a tailspin after having overgrown over a decade”. And any semblance of adding rule of law as a tylenol is taken with salt and pepper, these independent observers said.

When asked to comment on Pakistan facing 5GW, a senior media professional responded with a grain of sarcasm,”Any independent report/ research behind which establishment would like to hide and want to use it to declare innocent, responsible and awakening minds as terrorist and traitor is called 5th generation warfare”.

When asked to explain 5GW in common man’s terms, a Pakistani envoy based in EU said, “That’s the most difficult part?. Even those proposing it (or confronting it) want to keep it a bit ambiguous!”. “It cuts both ways,” an independent observer familiar with 5GW said when asked of its dynamics. “Winning or losing is elusive”.

Karachi-based Amb. G R Baloch tells DesPardes he is aware of 5GW the country is facing. “We have to make sure our people are respected as equal citizens, and not allow (the) adversary to exploit our social and political soft bellies to launch its 5th generation war which includes disinformation, psychological ware fare, manipulation of our digital loose ends and gaps by stealing info, disrupting digital communication and more aspects which are not part of conventional warfare”.


Notwithstanding the Afghan war (in 80s) which routed the Red Army from Afghanistan, Pakistan’s military had to face two decades of War on Terror. It cost more than 70,000 lives and a whopping US$130 billion in economic losses.

It’s like back to the future, an analyst says. “The era of unhinged geopolitical rivalries is witnessing invisible gravitational push-pull (competition),” says another observer.

According to one Pakistani analyst, “The intensity can be felt in the wider region also.”

Does 5GW have ethics? “No”, says the analyst.

“Our defense will be severely undermined by an unending gulf of fissures and fault lines. Overall it’s going to be a Herculean undertaking”, says the military official when asked to comment on the challenges the country faces from 5GW.

Not many are aware though what 5GW is and how to understand it –the two major traditional political parties and the media remain grim reapers as the status quo stands challenged with cricket-legend-turned politician Prime Minister Imran Khan in the helm of affairs as the “elephant in the room”. National interests and national security interests are on the front burner. observers say.