‘Hybrid War’ is Only an Excuse to Suppress Dissent

Dissent is patriotic but in Naya Pakistan, like in many other parts of the world today, states view any form of dissent as being anti-national and seek to repress it.

In an article in The Daily Times, Ailia Zehra argues that the Pakistani state must understand that “peaceful dissenters of the state are not the threat, the groups who incite violence in the name of religion are.” According to Zehra, the deep state is using the narrative of “fifth generation hybrid warfare” to suppress dissent and justify censorship.

The non-violent and peaceful Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM) is one target of the deep state. “Two democratically-elected parliamentarians Ali Wazir and Mohsin Dawar were recently placed on the Exit Control List — a decision which was later reversed by the federal cabinet following outrage on social media. Earlier, on November 30, the two Pashtun Tahaffuz Movement (PTM)-linked MPs from North Waziristan were offloaded from a Dubai-bound flight and informed that their names have been placed on the no-fly list due to a case registered against them in Swabi over their participation in a PTM public meeting. The MPs were detained by the Federal Investigation Agency (FIA) for three days. There is no law that stops citizens from participating in a peaceful gathering. Even after u-turn on the decision, there has been no explanation from the relevant authorities as to why the public representatives were mistreated.”

Further, “Attempts to forcibly restrict the activities of the PTM have been going on ever since the movement started getting international recognition because of the large crowds it was able to attract despite having no formal organisational structure. The demands put forth by the PTM resonate with the countless victims and affectees of the war on terror in Pakistan’s tribal areas. DG ISPR Asif Ghafoor, in a recent press briefing, reiterated the commitment to holding talks with the aggrieved Pashtun youngsters, but warned them against crossing ‘red lines’ in the same breath. We have been told by the military that fifth generation hybrid warfare is underway, and that media should cover “positive” news to counter the threats.”

Yet, the state is “shying away from taking a meaningful and decisive action against Khadim Rizvi’s outfit. Meanwhile, leader of extremist group Tehreek-e-Labbaik (TLP) Khadim Rizvi was (finally!) detained along with several workers a few weeks ago. Terrorism and treason charges were placed on him, but nothing has come out of those cases as yet. We were told by Information Minister Fawad Chahudhry that Rizvi was taken into ‘protective custody’ in order to maintain law and order. Needless to say, a known hate preacher does not need to be ‘protected’. There are now sufficient grounds for a blanket ban on Khadim Rizvi’s group and initiation of a proper trial against him after consultation with legal counsels. But the government seems to be satisfied with its decision of detaining Rizvi in ‘protective custody’ and does not plan to do more. This is because the group had clearly been receiving some kind of patronage from the deep state. And removing this patronage will have to be a gradual process. Because — as has always been the case — the act of patronising extremist groups to subjugate elected governments backfired. And now they will have to be handled with care. The deep state seems clueless as to what to do with Rizvi and his ilk. To begin with, it should be decided once and for all that the practice of backing any kind of extremist group for vested interests will be put to a halt. Former Tehreek-e-Taliban (TTP) leader Ehsanullah Ehsan should also be tried for his crimes.”

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