National Security Policy: A Critical Appraisal

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The current World order is at an inflection point with the shift in global dynamics. The trends of Great power politics, Pandemics and other biological risks, the escalating climate crisis, cyber and digital threats, international economic disruptions, protracted humanitarian crisis, rising nationalism, xenophobic culture, violent extremism and terrorism, inter-state conflicts, and military-industrial complex all pose profound and, in some cases, existential dangers. Nevertheless, new crises demand attention whilst offering unmatched opportunities.

To renew its commitment aligned with the evolving world order, and to find a panacea of multifarious domestic challenges, Pakistan currently undertaking a revamped national security framework encompassing traditional and non-traditional with economic security at the core in spatial dimensions to bolster prospects of sovereignty, prosperity, peace, and dignity. Notwithstanding, the formation of a new national security policy that has yet to be unveiled, Pakistan has to consider certain imperatives to turn the rhetoric to reality vis-à-vis its national security endeavors.  Solely reliance on the ‘Paradigm shift’ towards geo-economics, will not maximize our national interests as a right trajectory of geo-strategy is pre-condition for our economic interests persuasion and realpolitik challenges- US-China competition, US-India partnership, India’s hegemonic tendencies, Kashmir issue, a drastic shift in Middle Eastern politics, and instable Afghanistan seeks preferential treatment to the nuance of geo-strategy.

For Pakistan’s principle of connectivity, development partnerships and socio-economic uplift are largely dependent on the internal stability, Peaceful coexistence, tranquility on its eastern- western borders, disdaining hostile rhetoric’s vis-à-vis contending actors, making trade and investment regime attractive and human resource more skillful relevant with global trends. Pakistan currently lacks economic policies that combine demand and supply-side forces. Preference should be given to local industry to make it more competitive and link up to global supply chains. Straighten out bureaucratic hassles, and make ease of doing business a top national priority. Effective utility of geographic location, the connectivity hub, large consumer market, expanding middle class, youth bulge may serve better the geo-economics ambitions. Trade policy must grow the Pakistani middle-class, create new and better jobs, raise wages, and equitably strengthen communities. Pakistan should conduct practical, results-oriented diplomacy with all the actors around the world for seeking strategic advantage, national competitiveness, and work to reduce the risk of misperception and miscalculation.  With vigilance and foresight, to forge and extend enduring strategic advantages Pakistan should commit to the welfare of the international system, deepening its alliances, partnerships, multilateral institutions, and rules where necessary. Technology is fundamentally altering the national defense security landscape through hybrid warfare challenges, developments in artificial intelligence, digital infrastructure, networking, and social media, and disinformation poses heinous security vulnerabilities. Therefore Pakistan better incorporates emerging technology issues in its defense-security decision-making.  Through military modernization, Pakistan needs to ensure that its armed forces are equipped to deter adversaries, defend people, interests, and defeat threats that emerge. But the use of military force should be a last resort, not the first; diplomacy, development, and economic statecraft should be the leading instruments of Pakistan’s foreign policy. Pakistan has to further upgrade (Technological revolution) its national security institutions and processes while ensuring to take advantage of the full diversity of talents required to address today’s complex challenges. Defend and nurture the underlying sources of Pakistan’s strength, including its people, economy, national defense, and governance system. Healthy civil-military ties offer disciplined choices regarding national defense and broadening national cohesion.   Social security is a prerequisite for overhauling the success of national security. The capacity of social protection institutions for effective and efficient implementation of programs and schemes is significantly important through functional coordination mechanisms so that social protection programs and schemes are well-coordinated and harmonized. Policymakers should devise social protection mechanisms that are accessible to workers in the informal economy, and support the capacity development of social partners to effectively implement social protection initiatives at the provincial level. For human security through strengthening commitment to SDGs attainment, health security, environmental sustainability, Pakistan must invest in scientific and technological edge, working alongside its partners to establish the new rules and practices that will allow us to seize the opportunities that advance in technology present, eventually serving human security. In the digital world, Pakistan should make national media a brand to educate the public, countering hybrid-warfare challenges, promoting the soft image, and a tool for national cohesion.   In the domain of non-traditional security threats addressing the existential threats of climate change and water, food, and energy security are some of the most important prerequisites for geo-economics to work for the country. Pakistan must combat the threats posed by climate change, invest in climate-conscious food and water security and resilient agriculture, prevent disease and improve public health and nutrition.

Finally, for Pakistan’s national security policy to be effective, it is essential to invest in national security workforce, institutions, and partnerships, inspire a new generation to public service, ensure our workforce represents the diversity of our country, and modernize our decision-making processes. Beyond security prism, Pakistan needs to build partnerships around with world, invest in civil society, and strengthen long-standing political, economic, and cultural connections.

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