Fourth generation warfare: The changing face of war and terrorism

Source:  Samaa Published in Blog on Wednesday, September 13, 2017

It came as a shock rather than just news few days ago that attackers on a politician in Karachi were identified as highly educated people. Holding degree in subjects like applied physics, engineering and technology one wonders how such wonderfully brilliant minds fall into the traps of terrorists. Pakistan has received direct impact from the ongoing war in Afghanistan from decades since its inception in 1947 and after 9/11 incident, has seen various terrorists organizations taking refuge under different banners.

In these days it seems like insurgents, terrorists banned organizations are working like first law of thermodynamics also known as law of conversation of energy which states that energy can neither be created or destroyed it can only be transformed or can be changed from one form into another. Terrorism is changing faces, once the fight which used to be carried with traditional weapons has shifted into potential technology driven fourth generation. The terrorists somehow have mastered the art of war as well as technology.

For me, being a student of Peace and Conflict studies few concepts came to lime light hence looking at the current scenario I thought, I should write over it providing my readers some better understanding. The term fourth generation warfare 4GW was first used in 1989 by a team of U.S analysts. It is a conflict characterized by a blurring of lines between war and politics, combatants and civilians. It was used to describe warfare’s return to a decentralized form. It came to my mind that how rightly is concept is applicable to our current situation.

A free society encourages the locomotion and relocation of such factors. A city like Karachi, a big metropolitan where people come from all across the country in search of work opportunities and settle here temporarily. Everyone is so busy in their daily routine that no one pays heed that who is living in their neighborhoods. Terrorists take advantage of that and target venerable entities.

People who are highly educated falling into tarps set by such terrorists or insurgents. There is a greater need in preset time to educate new generation about extremism, terrorism and insurgency. And establish the difference between insurgency and freedom fights. Laws exist to punish the wrong doer, and there creating a state within a state is a crime. The existing generation gap can be a factor which is pushing young people to such extreme factors. It is much needed to pay attention towards needs, interests and activities of young people. It’s not just the responsibility of parents, it lies equally on shoulders of society and who make society teachers, friends, relatives, siblings, colleague, and spouses, hence every one shares the responsibility. It is our social responsibility to protect our youngsters. It is incorrect that educational institutions are becoming the nurseries for extremists.

Radicalization propaganda reaching such venerable minds is feared to be through internet. The brain washing material spews from many sources, from websites, chat rooms, and spreads in various trends on social media as well. Our cyber crime department has to me more alert and effective. They extremists somehow in these days posses the ability to communicate via encrypted messaging apps. A serious effort is required to monitor and control young ones activities on internet.

Terrorists can move freely in our society is no doubt very alarming and society is being used as their cover. They utilize our democratic rights to penetrate into public lines but also to defend them. We as a nation are facing this problem as it was created few decades ago in cold war era to defeat the other enemy, but by the passage of time the force as changed its position and face. The terrorism in previous generations, which appeared to be created to provide solution from the Soviet problem has crippled down in future generation. This refers to Taliban factor. We all are aware of the purpose of creation and how it was formed. But in present times the new generation, or say the fourth generation has arrived. And what has become of them. No need to explain here any source on internet can provide the whole nomenclature of Taliban and later groups.

The first generation of warfare who supposed to fight in modern battle fields like perfectly oiled machinery, an ideal army which followed ranks and order culture. The terrorism has shifted the whole paradigm. Terrorism today is beyond technology advancement. They have designed to operate within nation state framework, a non national or transnational base taking refuge under ideology or religion.

We are also under cultural attack. Highly sophisticated psychological warfare especially through manipulation in various forms of social media, and terrorists know very well how to play this game. All these elements are prevailing in our society we need to identify them before it’s too late.


By: Saman Siddique

Written by Saman Siddique

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