By Agha Iqrar Haroon
An ambitious National Security Policy (NSP) of Pakistan 2022-26 was unveiled through a Public Document version on January 14, 2022, by Prime Minister Imran Khan. Congratulation Mr. Prime Minister you gave this nation a document of security after 73 years of its independence.
The beautifully written Public Document shares the future vision of Pakistan and I hope authors of this Document must have emerging international, external and regional threats in their minds while designing the Document including fast approaching US submarines to South Asian waters.
The work on the first-ever National Security Policy was initiated when Lt. Gen Nasser Janjua (retd) was National Security Advisor (NSA) to the then Prime Minister. I had attended several brainstorming conferences, seminars, deliberations, and discussions when NSA Janjua was formulating the blueprint of the Policy. Most of his presentations placed Food Security at the top. In the year 2021, we have seen that Pakistan that was an agrarian society had been importing basic food items like wheat, sugar, and cotton. He was worried that lack of Food Security would become a major factor in the internal security of the country, triggering social crimes. He included the concept of “Human Security” as the focal point of National Security, a paradigm shift from national-security-centric psychology to a futuristic approach. One must appreciate Prime Minister Imran Khan and NSA Moeed Yusuf for concluding this work in an excellent manner. However, the execution of this Policy would be a challenging task to forthcoming governments because almost every part of this document would need grass root changes in the existing system and a huge reform work is needed to execute and for achieving the targets. We have seen that we have yet to execute or even accepted some of the core recommendations of the National Action Plan (NAP) that was formed after the barbaric attack on Army Public School (APS) Peshawar. NAP was much smaller in the shape of economic requirements, commitment, and synchronization of line departments. If we still face several bottlenecks in the implementation of NAP, then you can understand how difficult it would be to implement the NSP. Nonetheless, one should be pragmatic and expect better results.
I strongly doubt that the existing civil administration structure has a will and the capacity to execute huge work that would be required for the execution of NSP and drastic administrative reforms are needed for the successful implementation of this wonderful vision. How can a civil administration that looks incompetent and ineffective while mitigating the consequences of snow blizzards and floods without the help of the Army execute drastic changes the country needs for implementing NSP in the next four years?
The NSP document contains eight sections. After explaining the policy formulation process in Section I, conceptual elements of Pakistan’s national security framework are explained in Section II. Section III on ‘National Cohesion’ examines the preservation of ideology and culture, ensuring unity and stability, and making public service responsive to the needs of citizens. Section IV, titled ‘Securing Our Economic Future’, focuses on economic security, specifically discussing the economy, trade, energy, education and human resource, and emerging technologies. Section V, titled ‘Defence and Territorial Integrity, provides policy guidelines for ensuring defence, deterrence, territorial integrity, and space and cyber security. Section VI focuses on ‘Internal Security and examines challenges of terrorism, violent sub-nationalisms, extremism and sectarianism, and organized crime. Section VII on ‘Foreign Policy in a Changing World’ assesses global realignments, Pakistan’s key bilateral and multilateral relationships, and our overall approach towards diplomacy. Finally, Section VIII, titled ‘Human Security, examines population and migration, health security, climate, and water security, food security, and gender security.
It is believed that the replacement of the geostrategic approach with the economic essentials Human Development approach requires revisiting the old national security paradigm and reviewing core security issues to create space for human security. Therefore, the concluding part of the Policy says Pakistan’s future lies in embracing change and breaking the inertia of the status quo while keeping an eye on major power competition and the struggle for influence and resources. This is understood that writers of this Policy paper had a futuristic approach and must have calculated possible regional threats including the hawkish US- South Asia Policy with compelling agenda to encircle China for controlling Chinese trade routes. AUKUS is one of the factors they must have in their minds. Therefore, designing an economic blueprint with a pragmatic attitude that Pakistan would take advantage of its geo-economically pivotal location to operate as production, trade, investment, and connectivity hub would be critical. The United States is all out to hit Chinese interests from Europe to Chinese’s borders in South Asia. Several international conferences regarding the future of Afghanistan including of OIC extraordinary meeting in Islamabad has confirmed in close doors that the majority of Central Asian countries are not ready to engage with the Afghan interim government and have no big plans to invest in trade through Afghanistan therefore, CPEC western route, that Pakistan is depending may not be as lucrative as Pakistan is expecting.
Regarding regional peace, it depends upon India what it has in mind after the abrogation of special clauses of its Constitution or Indian Occupied Kashmir. India is busy in massive buying of conventional military hardware including S-400 missile system and Rafael fighter jets for consolidating its Cold Start doctrine at the juncture of time when Defence budget of Pakistan is being sliced by inflation and tumbling economic conditions. We must accept that regional connectivity and peace with neighbors are two external factors that are beyond any calculations.
There is no doubt that Pakistan seeks to reposition itself at the crucible of history by emerging
trends, investment in key areas that will lead the technological revolution in the coming decades, and a whole-of-government approach that leverages our advantages and addresses our challenges to find opportunity within a period of great change.
The implementation of the Four-year Policy would need reasonable if not huge financial supplies and Pakistan has to manage trade imbalance, broaden its tax net, ensure peace with neighbors when Indian Occupied Kashmir is virtually eaten by the Union State system of India. The trade balance is only possible when Pakistan has opportunities to enhance its exports and that needs value addition. With exceptionally high rates of energy products like electricity and petroleum products available industries, value addition would be difficult for our industrialists. While the importance of essential commodities like wheat, sugar, and cotton is only possible when farmers get inputs like fertilizers and electricity for tube wells at affordable prices.
Capitalizing on youth also requires the expansion of already run skill development programs. Networking of vocational institutes is needed to produce skilled labor to contest in the global market and that requires high-end technological training. The 21st century cannot be contested with producing plumbers, electricians, and carpenters.
The execution of the first two years of the National Security Policy will tell us what better future it will bring to Pakistan. Two sectors— Food Security and Internal security will determine its success because there is a constant decrease in essential food items production and a constant increase in terrorism-related events. Implementation of ambitious National Security Policy requires effective civil administration and normal economic health and I fear with existing sick economy; Pakistan can plan a security policy but its implementation could be a dream only.
Money Makes Mare Go—- Do we have Money?
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 DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk (DND). Assumptions made within the analysis are not reflective of the position of the DND Thought Center and Dispatch News Desk News Agency.