Psychological Warfare

By Shah N. Khan, Moderator, Pakistan Post - Internet Discussion Group

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PSYOP (Psychological Operations) and PSYWAR (Psychological Warfare) are not mere acronyms. PSYOP and PSYWAR sound like new terms coined to give respectability to the old term 'Psychological warfare' and denote expertise and sophistication acquired in the age-old game of deception and propaganda. Now the motto is not merely to subdue the enemy but Capture their minds and their hearts and souls will follow/

The U.S. Department of Defense defines Psychological warfare (PSYWAR) as The planned use of propaganda and other psychological actions having the primary purpose of influencing the opinions, emotions, attitudes, and behavior of hostile foreign groups in such a way as to support the achievement of national objectives.

The term Political Islam has been coined and misrepresented as a theology to subjugate other civilizations and Non Muslims. The facts are that the Quran forbids forceful conversion to Islam and emphasizes upon justice for all without discrimination of any sort.

In many other countries military and other forces are trained to engage in psychological warfare. Methods employed during the period of cold war before commencement of actual hostilities differ to some   extent with those used in actual war. Some of the methods employed in psychological warfare are summarized below.


Propaganda by radio stations and media, releasing trumped stories in the media, bribing politicians, Mullas and media people, Distributing leaflets, e.g. in the Gulf War, encouraging desertion , Renaming cities and other places when captured, such as Saddam Airport was renamed as Baghdad airport, dumping food parcel from airplanes after bombing the homes nearly targets, shock and awe military strategy of bombing, terrorism (in addition to the physical effect of the violence it often aims to instill fear. There are various methods not possible to cover in one article. Some such methods have created Islamophobia which is hatred and fear of Muslims in Western societies but organizations like Alquida, Daesh, ISIS and Taliban are also responsible for tarnighing the image of Islam as a Religion of Peace.

In times of peace propaganda is aimed at creating goodwill and enhancing prestige of the country and to help obtain trade links and other benefits for the country. The propaganda is also amimed at creating an image among the people that their Government is doing a fine job.

It is a sad fact that the propaganda is frequently accompanied by distortions of facts or padded information and by appeals to passions and prejudices, it is often thought to be invariably false or misleading. Although some propagandists may intentionally distort facts, others may present it as faithfully as objective observers. Usually propaganda attempts to persuade through rational or emotional appeal to lead the masses in believing something in variance with their current thinking.

Different methods have to be employed to influence the opinions of people in different segments of population depending upon their religious and social norms. Very often big business influences the policies of the Government for the sake of corporate goals and selfish and ruthless politicians sacrifice the national interests and wage war treating the lives of people as expendable for furtherance of their personal financial or political gains as well as those of Industrial giants who support the politicians in order to get Government contracts.

In foreign affairs these days as Barbara Tuchman (1912, 1989), U.S. historian described, 'Diplomacy means all the wicked devices of the Old World, spheres of influence, balances of power, secret treaties, triple alliances, and, during the interwar period, appeasement of Fascism.'

Jehad and Militancy

Jihad, in Islam, means the spiritual struggle against evil. The struggle can be by the heart, the tongue, the hand, and the sword. These refer to the inner, spiritual war of the heart against vice, passion, and ignorance; spreading the word of Islam with one's tongue; choosing to do good and avoiding evil with one's hand. Jihad also means a full fledged war as declared by the state to defend the sovereignty or repulse threat to the state's freedom, security or religion.

Jihad, in Islam, means the spiritual struggle against evil. Qital, which is one form of jihad involving physical warfare to be resorted to only when all efforts for peaceful resolution of conflict fail.

As Maulana Wahiduddin Khan writes: Qital, which is one form of jihad, involves physical warfare, but this also cannot be divorced from the issue of essentially peaceful jihad. If an enemy challenges one militarily or through physical force, one should still strive to the utmost possible to respond through peaceful means. Such means can be abandoned only when it is no longer possible to use them or when warfare becomes the only way to respond to the violence being unleashed.

Killing of innocent people even in times of war is strictly prohibited in Islam. The socalled Jehadi groups or militants who indulge in terrorism violate Quran and Sunnah. Enemy agents are said to be posing as Muslim Jehadi for the purpose of destabilizing a country and demonize Islam.

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