“Tactical empathy: Unraveling the plot behind the weaponization of a soldier’s suicide”


By Shazia Anwer Cheema

I went through a tormenting experience of witnessing a social media post talking about suicide by stating the full name, father’s name, place, and time of the incident including the way suicide had been committed mentioning the rank, identity number, and unit of the deceased soldier.

I could not stop myself from recalling another incident that happened two years ago in my dormitory when a student jumped or fell from the 17th floor. I still don’t know his name or his department, there was no discussion or curiosity among students to know his bio-data and no one posted the incident on social media, not even on the close dormitory group which prompted me to think about what kind of a person can expose such death in this inhuman way, obviously it is already devastating for friends and family and the public exposure of it, is a grief unimaginable for a normal mind.

adil Raja twitter on the suicide of a young soildier

A healthy mind is incapable of doing such a thing no matter whatever motivation has been provided, only a sadistic mind can do it in such a natural manner as a common practice in daily routine. Sadism is particularly associated with the impaired judgment of moral wrongness, guilt, and punishment in various moral scenarios manipulating intent, cause, and consequence of harm. The sadistic mind in this case is capable of manipulating intent, cause, and consequences of harm giving it an empathetic color. He is trying to be empathetic with Pakistani soldiers by registering his reservation regarding their wellbeing. He thinks his moral wrongness due to his impaired moral compass is empathy. Empathy and deception are combined with “Tactical Empathy”. Psychology defines empathy as the first-person imaginative projection, at one’s emotional and cognitive, of oneself into the perspective or situation of another. Do we see the imagination of dead soldiers’ friends and family and their perspective on this particular situation? Behavioral scientists call this self-loathing empathy tactical empathy, which creates an “other” through an empathetic identification driven by the ambition to ultimately destroy the other and this phenomenon itself is fraught with paradox. Empathy requires the ability to step into someone else’s shoes and then step out again.

Tactical empathy refers to the situation when the “othering effect” has already been established and sadistically few others are being shown empathy to create a blanket impression of crafted reality

The idea behind the explicit articulation of a soldier’s suicide is deceitful and based on tactical empathy. Tactical empathy refers to the situation when the “othering effect” has already been established and sadistically few others are being shown empathy to create a blanket impression of crafted reality. In this case suicide of an individual is being weaponized to dehumanize the entire army and that too in the pretense of empathy. Tactical empathy has been seen in the past when few among others are considered worthy of being worried for.

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As I have mentioned earlier death is the hardest thing to play with, but the thing to understand here is that a sadistic mind, with twisted moralities, who was disgraced and banished by the same others against whom he is so desperately empathetic is using feeling and emotion cards. If he considers himself a genius then I pity him, as he was disrespectfully thrown out and now begging for refuge on humanitarian grounds while having no humanity in himself. He is deindividualizing the institution that disgraced him and forced him to beg for support in kind and cash; he is using his sadistic mind to earn his bread by dehumanizing the army. He thinks that the darkness of his hatred can destroy the image of an institution. In that, he can go the length of making a show of a young suicide death.

Coming back to the point of tactical empathy, it has a dark side because it is capable of using Mimesis, Deception, and Mirror neurons. Imagine some writing about a suicide on social media by not being deceptive, in that case recipient will not build a connection because the human mind independently can classify appropriate and inappropriate. Disclosing information about a suicide victim is inappropriate in all societies but pretending to be empathetic toward the victim triggers mimetics among humans. Rene Girard writes that: Man is the creature who does not know what to desire, and he turns to others to make up his mind. We desire what others desire because we imitate their desire.

Memetic theory suggests that mimetic desire leads to natural rivalry and eventually to scapegoating. Girard called this a scapegoating mechanism. In his study of history, Girard formed the hypothesis that societies unify their imitative desires around the destruction of the collectively agreed-upon scapegoat.

The use of a soldier’s suicide as propaganda against the entire army is a complex and disturbing tactic and he cannot do it alone; the right words, the timing, everything is being fed to him

The majority of minds have already learned that death must not be used for any ulterior motives such as personal aggression, revenge, or payback, however, if death is used with tactical empathy, it gives space to become a topic of discussion. Now it is highly unlikely that a disgraceful ex-military sadistic individual is operating on this elaborated plot, it is obvious that he is just a mindless tool of a bigger machine. He is a hired hand for the sole purpose of exerting his helpless regression toward the institute that disowned him. His intellectual mediocracy combined with his sadistic mind is not only dangerous for the institution he is targeting but for the whole society as well.

The use of a soldier’s suicide as propaganda against the entire army is a complex and disturbing tactic and he cannot do it alone; the right words, the timing, everything is being fed to him. The excessive use of Tactical Empathy, Memetics effect, and scapegoating mechanism is part of the bigger game plan. The originator of this heinous plan against a single institution requires players like the mentioned sadistic individual. They have the added value of having a personal vendetta against the Pakistan Army and they are eager to destroy Pakistani society for their revenge.

The semiotic analysis of the mentioned social media post is that it has used rhetoric of empathy which I have deciphered as tactical empathy. The empathetic tone aims to get the desired memetic effect in terms of worry and sympathy among the masses and the last expected outcome is scapegoating. This is not an isolated incident; these compromised individuals are continuously feeding tactical empathetic narratives for a few among their enemies and trying level hard that society can finally mimic it. The ultimate goal is to provide a scapegoat to the society to destroy.

That prompts the question of why the handlers of these sadistic individuals are so keen to tarnish the image of the Pakistan Army that they are tempting these sick individuals to use a soldier’s suicide as an opportunity. Why enemy of Pakistan is trying so hard that Pakistani society starts internalizing the scapegoating of the Pakistan Army? Why Pakistan army is not any other Pakistani institution is the biggest threat to the enemies that they are utilizing maximum resources to destroy it. The last question is why they want that wishful destruction done by Pakistani society also is there any accountability for the traitors?

I must remind our enemy, that they may have all the resources and few sadistic Pakistanis at their disposal but if they think that their operation goes undetected, they are misinformed

In my opinion, the enemy of Pakistan is working on the agendas given below.

Dehumanization and Enemy Construction:

These sadistic minds under the command of our enemies are working on the dehumanizing process of the Pakistan army to make it easier for the Pakistani society to accept negative portrayals. By using a soldier’s suicide, a sick individual seeks to portray the entire Army as oppressive. The idea that the Pakistan Army is oppressive to society and its members is the biggest presumption behind this public inhuman announcement of a death.

Confirmation Bias:

Imran Khan and his followers started a massive hate campaign, and they need a constant flow of information confirming their narrative because people tend to interpret information in a way that confirms their preexisting beliefs. The use of a soldier’s suicide is to confirm negative stereotypes or preconceived notions spread by Pakistan’s enemy for exploiting confirmation bias to strengthen their narrative.

Emotional Manipulation:

The use of empathy and a kind of emotional appeal is associated with sympathy. By highlighting a soldier’s suicide, propagandists aim to evoke strong emotional reactions that can override rational thinking and foster negative sentiments toward the army.

Group Attribution Error:

This cognitive bias involves attributing the actions of an individual to an entire group. The enemy of Pakistan may use a soldier’s suicide to generalize negative characteristics to the entire army, capitalizing on the group attribution error to create a more sweeping and damning narrative. I can expect another social media post unlike the previous one suggesting that the entire army is suicidal. The only requisite is another disgraced sadistic individual.

Narrative Warfare:

Enemy of Pakistan are engaging in a form of narrative warfare where they craft a specific story to influence public opinion. The use of a soldier’s suicide fits into a broader narrative that seeks to portray the targeted army (Pakistan Army in this case) as a force with internal oppression, fostering a negative perception among both domestic and international audiences.

Psychological Operations (PSYOP):

The intentional use of psychological tactics to influence and manipulate the perceptions and behaviors of individuals or groups is a key component of psychological operations. Highlighting a soldier’s suicide could be part of a broader PSYOP strategy to undermine the morale and cohesion of the Pakistan army.

I must remind our enemy, that they may have all the resources and few sadistic Pakistanis at their disposal but if they think that their operation goes undetected, they are misinformed. Pakistani society today gives the impression of a superficially created mimetic effect because, millions are being spent on social media to create this virtual effect but mind it, not only does it have no ground reality in it but also it is superficially imposed. No matter how extensive and the elaborated plot is being followed to trigger the scapegoat mechanism, one thing I can say with complete certainty is that the end game will pleasure scapegoating to the Pakistani society, but those scapegoats will be your hired sick individuals, not Pakistan Army.

Shazia Anwer Cheema is an author, and analyst and writes articles for national and international media outlets. She did her M.Phil in Cognitive Semiotics from Aarhus University Denmark and is currently completing her Ph.D. in Semiotics and Philosophy of Communication at Charles University Prague.


The views and opinions expressed in this article/Opinion/Comment are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the London Post . Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the London Post.