Pakistan’s National Security Policy – A Theoretical Mish Mash


As a developing country with acute internal and external threats which have kinetic and lethal imports while facing with the ignominy of the begging bowl to the International Monetary Funds every decade devising a unified security policy for Pakistan will always remain a challenge.

The drafters of Pakistan’s National Security Policy 2022-2026 [NSP] have however fallen in the trap of focusing on the immediate “threats,” to the state of loss of economic sovereignty [to the IMF] prioritising the same in the public discourse while having included other challenges as well in a hybrid statement of principles that clearly lack desired direction to those who will be charged to implement the policy.

In short, the NSP has reiterated policy to overcome some of the critical challenges faced by Pakistan in terns of defence and internal security and added a layer of economic and human security to place it within the framework of comprehensive security.

As a result, the NSP which should have provided a holistic framework for achieving national vision and objectives in multiple dimensions from political to military has ended up as a mish mash of chapters without a central linkage to the primary goal or national interests.

Theory – Reference Point

The theoretical reference point of drafting the policy is also faulty.

Comprehensive and Human Security are separate paradigms and cannot be combined as a one whole.

While comprehensive security includes as per Professor Barry Buzan five sectors of security -Political, Military, Economic, Societal, and Environmental, human security as per definition provided in 1994 by Mahbub ul Haq in the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) Human Development Report is concerned fundamentally with human life and dignity.

It implies “safety from chronic threats such as hunger, disease, and repression, and it meant protection from sudden and hurtful disruptions in the patterns of daily life”.

For Pakistan to achieve the ideals of human security given the level of challenges faced in multiple dimensions is a chimera but the model may have been included in the NSP due to political considerations as the Pakistan Prime Minister Mr Imran Khan sees himself as a champion of the, “downtrodden,” which are unfortunately in millions in Pakistan.

Their upliftment requires a comprehensive economic and developmental policy rather than securitising the same.

To an extent the comprehensive security model is relevant to Pakistan which like the Finnish one involves a whole of society approach to handle “Vital societal functions as Leadership, International and EU activities, Defence capability, Internal security, Economy, infrastructure and security of supply, Functional capacity of the population and services, Psychological resilience”.

Yet geopolitical and regional challenges faced by Pakistan, possession of nuclear weapons and their context and the comparative state of development implies that adopting the Finnish model blindly may result in evolving a theoretical document with little practical import and one that is not possible to effectively implement.

For a comprehensive security policy to succeed there is a necessity for linkages cutting across government silos to civil society and even the private sector. These linkages have not been defined nor are they existing in Pakistan.

Importantly evolution of a national security policy is a deliberative process and in a parliamentary democracy as Pakistan this should involve actively members of the national assembly and the Senate.

While it is claimed that the document has been under evolution for the past seven years and involved interaction with a host of experts, the discussion in the national and the senate combined was not even for seven hours and that too after publication of the document.

Clearly prepared by the National Security Division of Pakistan led by the National Security Adviser Dr Moeed Yousuf the document is unlikely to outlast his tenure in that office or the Pakistan Tehreek Insaaf (PTI) government in power in the country which may be as short as 2023 when national elections are due.

One last point, a vital aspect for Pakistan’s security including economy is relations with India in this direction the NSP has adopted an apriori adversarial position. Witness three statements from the NSP reproduced as below-

“With a regressive and dangerous ideology gripping the collective conscience in our

immediate neighbourhood [hinting at India], the prospects of violent conflict have grown immensely”.

“The Indian Ocean is fast becoming a space for contestation. The self-professed role

of any one country [hinting at India] as a so-called net-security provider in the wider Indian Ocean would affect the region’s security and economic interests negatively.

The NSP also frames Kashmir as the central issue in India Pakistan relations thus, “A just and peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute remains a vital

national security interest for Pakistan. India’s illegal and unilateral actions of August

2019 have been rejected by the people of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and

Kashmir (IIOJK). Indian occupation forces continue to undertake human rights

abuses and oppression through war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocidal

acts in IIOJK. In addition, India continues to create false propaganda around the

Kashmiri resistance to hide its illegal actions”.

If the goals of the NSP is to ensure economic security – opening economic and trade relation with India will be the most effective option – however by framing India as the principal adversary Pakistan has raised the bar of confrontation at least in the political and ideological terms, thus attaining NSPs goals will remain a chimera.

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