Lawfare—Law + Warfare, a word in use since early 70’s, which in it’s simplest form means—to use laws as a tool to realize military objective. In recent past this strategy has been used by myriads of countries to subdue the enemy state, using existing international laws. One example in this context is America tying Iran’s hands by imposing broad sanctions. Pakistan’s Army is presently using lawfare in combination with information warfare to portray itself as a victim nation, and to legitimize the narrative it is projecting India as a belligerent nation.
David Kennedy in his book—Of war and law, elucidates this strategy as a means to to accomplish what cannot be achieved by bombs and missiles, to seize territory and break the will of political opponent. Taking cue many countries have kept ICJ, (international court of justice), UN’s top court, at it’s toes with surge in activities.
Lawfare has both positive and negative impact.
- Philippines Vs China, 2016—This was the first time China was summoned before such a court. It was reprimanded for constructing artificial islands in South China sea (SCS), as this was seen by ICJ as China’s expansive tactic, using historic rights as an excuse.
- India Vs Pakistan, 2016—ICJ stayed the execution of Kulbhushan Jadhav. It was a huge diplomatic victory for India. At ICJ, 15 judges supported India except one—Judge Jilani, who was from Pakistan.
- UAE vs Qatar, 2018—UAE had approached ICJ to take punitive steps to prevent Qatar from manipulating the international forums for settling scores with its neighbours. UAE had also accused Qatar of supporting terrorism and disturbing peace in the region. The case went in Qatar’s favour.
- US Vs Iran, 2018: ICJ mandated US to not stop exports to Iran for humanitarian and civil aviation supplies. The decision was rejected by US on the grounds that it was an abuse of ICJ by Iran.
In all the above mentioned cases, the nations involved are not on friendly terms with each other, and their objectives to reach out to an international agency to resolve an issue, had more to do with projecting the other nation in poor light, and less about expecting justice. In India’s case, ICJ staying Kulbhushan Jadhav’s execution was a huge blow to Pakistan Army’s reputation. Kulbhushan had been tried in a military court, which sentenced him to death for spying, ergo ICJ’s decision implied that the court proceedings carried out by Pakistani Army was a sham.
India has also been able to tighten the noose around Pakistan in FATF (financial task force), which has grey listed Pakistan for supporting terrorism. While on one side India seems to have aced the game of lawfare against a puny enemy like Pakistan, it is China which has been a step ahead of India by placing it’s men at strategically significant posts at different international agencies. This includes chief of FATF, Mr. Liu, and chief of WHO (world health organization), Mr Tedros. This could possibly be the reason why despite Pakistan making it to the grey list twice in last one decade, it never got blacklisted by FATF. Pakistan being a nation which receives benevolence from China, has taken a leaf out of this and switched to lawfare to achieve it’s aim.
Aim–The deep state desires to de-hyphenate terrorism and Pakistan using India to project itself as a victim nation, which uses non-state actors in self-defense.
Plethora of incidents which took place within India that had Pakistan’s backing show how laser focused it’s deep state is vis-e-vis achieving it’s aim.
It all began with Operation Zarb-e-azb in 2014, when Pakistan’s government declared to the world that it is conducting military offensive against “bad” terrorist groups on it’s soil. The short-term goal was to make it’s allies like USA, believe that Pakistan is taking action against terrorism and ergo it deserves monetary aids. But the long term aim was far more nefarious. The bigger objective was to legitimise it’s narrative that Pakistan’s neighbours like India and Afghanistan want to keep Pakistan marred by terrorism, and that Pakistan merely uses non state actors in self-defense.
The next step in this direction was taken when Kulbhushan Jadhav, an Indian national was kidnapped from Iran and brought to Pakistan. To the world this man was projected as an Indian spy who was in Balochistan (one of the sensitive regions in Pakistan) to brew a storm, while truth was far from Pakistan’s claims. So ICJ’s verdict in this regard did water down Pakistan’s deep state’s desires, albeit temporarily.
After Indian defence forces successfully destroyed terrorists launch pads located in Pakistan during surgical strikes carried out in 2016, and Balakot strikes in 2019, Pakistan continued to project India as a belligerent nation.
The game plan
Pakistan is aware that India due to it’s soft power across the world, gets more support over itself, which has an image of being a terrorist-harbouring-nation. Ergo for the world to believe Pakistan’s narrative it is imperative to project India as an unworthy democracy and that India is an anti-minority nation. To execute this nefarious plan Pakistan relies on different methods
- Information warfare: Pakistan uses social media platforms and international forums to disseminate fake news and pictures. One such example is when Pakistan’s representative to United Nations, Maleeha Lodhi, used picture of a girl from Palestine, to set a narrative that Muslims were being attacked in Kashmir by Indian defence forces.
- Non-contact warfare: There’s enough proof to substantiate that Pakistan had been funding Shaheen Bagh protests in India’s capital Delhi, in an effort to insert wedges between different communities in India and also to sabotage India’s reputation as a democracy. Read how it was executed here.
- Lawfare: As described earlier this word is a combination of law and warfare. One example of lawfare at play is recent attempt by Pakistan and certain foreign nationals to drag India to ICJ over a created perception of minority is under attack. The following posts on social media serve the purpose of manipulating collective thought process against India.
Pakistan uses it’s spy agency ISI and it’s military media wing DGISPR to purvey propaganda against India. It doesn’t mind walking on a mine-field to achieve it’s goal. The recent hate-campaign to hurt India’s diplomatic relations with middle-eastern countries backfired for DGISPR after it came to light that the campaign was being carried out by Pakistan backed charlatans on social media. While it will be wrong to assume that such acts can hurt the diplomatic relations, but it does negatively impact the perception of one’s nationality.
Pakistan Army’s reliance on a combination of information warfare, non-contact warfare, and lawfare not merely achieves the goal to purge its pro-terrorism image but it also helps it’s ultimate aim of hurting India with a 1000 cuts. Once Indian government and forces are engaged in dousing fire between communities, fighting lawsuits, wasting resources over non-issues, the economy is bound to nose-dive. A monetarily weakened enemy is always easier to prey— Pakistani Army understands this, and ergo desires to trap Indian government to wage a perpetual battle on different fronts.
Article by Levina
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