“Our enemies know that they cannot beat us fair and square, and thus, they have subjected us to a cruel, evil, and protracted hybrid war.” These words of Army Chief General Bajwa in 2018 while addressing to the passing-out parade of cadets at Pakistan Military Academy (PMA) Kakul imparted all but an indispensable veracity about the great game of hybrid war being perpetrated against Pakistan. The contemporary, yet astounding, concept of hybrid warfare originated from the Hoffman’s theory of military strategy which entails an interplay of kinetic – conventional military techniques – and non-kinetic measures – propaganda, information warfare – to achieve specific tactical, military and diplomatic objectives. Before delving deep into the minacious repercussions that hybrid warfare had posited over Pakistan, it is imperative to apprehend the seemingly intertwined concepts of fifth-generation warfare and hybrid warfare. While hybrid warfare is a villainous manifestation of inflicting a two-pronged incursion – conventional and unconventional tools of subversion – against an adversary, fifth-generation warfare incorporates an iniquitous exposition of employing propaganda tactics and misinformation campaigns to aggrandize the potency of vandalism being wreaked via hybrid warfare in the first place. For instance, the audacious attack on GHQ Rawalpindi in 2009 by a group of 10 terrorists was a blatant display of hybrid warfare but the conspicuous aspiration behind such a presumptuous offensive was to promulgate an overarching narrative that how come the nuclear programme of a country be safe where even its military headquarter is accessible to the assailants. The propaganda campaigns that followed did more harm to the international security outlook of Pakistan than the actual attack. The scope of hybrid warfare is extensive to an extent that various theoretical concepts exist to lay out the rudimentary framework of how exactly it must be fought. In particular, Warden’s Five Rings Theory delineates five levels which constitutes a state i.e. Leadership, System essentials, Population, Infrastructure and Military. As per Colonel Warden, if one intends to destabilize a state, instigate the population against the state’s leadership and military by utilizing various means of hybrid war. Consequently, either the state will effectuate crackdown on the population which could result in turning people against the law enforcement agencies – case in point: Arab Spring – or the country will incur regime change as was the case with Iranian Prime Minister Mohammad Mossadegh. The threats emanating from the quandary of hybrid warfare has bogged Pakistan down into a pernicious state of affairs with regards to its internal and external security prospects. A series of externally provoked identity conflicts in geo-strategic transit provinces – Balochistan, KPK – has spawned an incessant cycle of violence against certain communities in the regions. For instance, the interminable persecution of Hazara community in Balochistan has been inciting hard feelings among the discontented inhabitants for long, as they have been questioning about the measures state is taking to protect their cognates. The gruesome abduction and killing of eleven Hazara coal miners in 2021 by the IS Group engendered tensions between the federal government and aggrieved community over the issue of ensuring unassailable security for Hazara people in Pakistan. Similarly, Dasu terrorist attack on the Chinese nationals in 2021 sabotaged Pakistan’s intentness towards providing top-notch security to foreign workers and as a result of it, construction activities on Dasu Dam project were halted for a considerable amount of time. India’s deplorable connivance with certain non-state actors and terrorist factions in Pakistan is further exacerbating an already deteriorated law and order situation in several parts of Pakistan. The unabated financial and material assistance provided by India to the terrorist organizations i.e. Baloch Liberation Army (BLA), Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) accounts for increasing levels of security instability in Pakistan – case in point being the demonic confession of India’s captured spy Kulbhushan Yadev about RAW sponsoring the BLA. The most inimical of all measures taken by India was its 15-year long information warfare and propaganda campaign against Pakistan aimed to isolate it within the United Nations and European Union. Such a despicable endeavour was confuted by EU DisinfoLab in 2020 via its investigative report titled ‘The Indian Chronicles’ which stated that India exploited 750+ websites across 119 countries to discredit and desert Pakistan on the global level. Adding insult to injury is the diplomatic isolation of Pakistan being played upon by the US as a pressure tactic to coerce the country in following Uncle Sam’s policy directions in certain matters. For instance, the gratuitous placement of Pakistan on FATF’s Grey List even after complying with all the action points recommended by the financial watchdog was all but a vicious agenda of certain lobbies to undermine Pakistan’s economic security. The ascending potency of cyber-attacks being foisted on the state institutions of Pakistan are also adding to the security woes of the country. As calamitous as any other tool of hybrid warfare could be, cyber-attacks and data breaches are more than capable to disrupt the day-to-day functions of the state. A baleful series of cyber-attacks on Federal Board of Revenue (FBR) and National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) in 2021 deranged the financial security system of Pakistan and private data of millions of citizens was at the verge of being breached by the hackers. On top of all, even the former Prime Minister Imran Khan was reportedly a potential target of the Israeli-made Pegasus spyware programme in 2021 by clients of the NSO Group cyberespionage firm. The conspicuous vulnerabilities of Pakistan against the burgeoning menace of hybrid warfare are the major concerning points with regards to the overall domestic security outlook. The persistent political fiasco contributing to the inherent political instability, ethnic, religious and linguistic diversity residing at conflicting ends, incapacitated state institutions to deal with the harrowing tactics of hybrid war, exploitation of the extreme poverty by external elements, poor governance and accountability mechanism prevalent in the country are some of the factors that are exacerbating Pakistan’s susceptibility to the perils of hybrid war. To impede the conundrum of hybrid warfare from making any further strides, Pakistan needs to accelerate its responsive measures with a pragmatic approach. Capacity building of the security institutions and law enforcement agencies by incorporating the modern set of mistake driven learning programs like ‘Virtual Reality Training Simulator’ would facilitate in counterpoising the limitations of Pakistan’s security officials. Pakistan has already enacted requisite legislations to hamper terrorist financing within its vicinity – establishment of Financial Intelligence Unit (FIU) in FIA – but to ensure its effective implementation, a coordinated effort is required on part of the political leadership and state institutions. Center for the Protection of National Infrastructure (CPNI) has marked out a protective security methodology to counter the atrocious attacks on state institutions and national assets. It works on the principles of Deter, Detect, Delay, Mitigate and Respond under the ambit of a comprehensive security plan, which helps to disrupt any fortuitous intervention via hybrid means. For a country as diverse as Pakistan, it is imperative that state policies must exhibit social inclusiveness to minimize the possibility of a certain section being exploited and turned against the state by antagonistic elements. Pakistan must extrapolate its distinguished de-radicalization programme known as “Sabaoon Center for Rehabilitation and Monitoring” in the conflict-ridden areas of the country. The aforementioned programme was a huge success in Swat in terms of imparting corrective religious education to former violent extremists and meticulously reintegrating them into the social canvas. There exist no second thoughts about the prevalent structural impediments thwarting Pakistan’s response to effectively neutralize the deleterious phenomenon of hybrid warfare, but under the ubiquitous circumstances, Pakistan is left with no other option than to act swiftly and take stern pre-emptive measures at the earliest.