National Security Policy vis-à-vis Emerging Challenges


Due to its geo strategic location and trou-bled domestic political landscape, Pakistan is always watched keenly by Internation-al and National observers. With a myriad of internal challenges, coming up with a National Security Policy was indeed a big achievement for the country. Also the pol-icy timeline is not restricted to one specific government and this bold decision of policy makers reflect clar-ity in thinking and implementation. However, as the challenges evolve drastically, it is imperative that the first security policy approved in December 2021 should be revisited in order to address the challenges. Pakistan has always been in the limelight of international politics due to its geo strategic location. Pakistan sits in the center of an all-important maritime trade route and also can be used by the Central Asian Republics as a gateway to the world. Due to this, Pakistan moved towards the US camp during cold war and joined multiple alliances including SEATO and CENTO. Owing to the location, Pakistan became a front line state during the Soviet Afghan war. Through Pakistan, CIA carried out one of itslargest operations in the history. It was again the location of the country that allowed it to play a key role during the American  invasion  of  Afghanistan  after the 9/11 bombings. Later Pakistan became a hot topic when it initiated the  China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). The $64 billion mega project is part  of  the  Belt  and  Road  Initiative  taken  by  the Chinese  President  Xi  Jinping. The country once again shot to international  prominence  when  US  army dramatically  pulled  out  of  Afghanistan; leaving the country in shambles.   These are just some examples of how Pakistan is pulled into global attention but unfortunately, Pakistan also has a very troubled and uncertain domestic set of problems. Since gaining independence, not a single Prime Minister has completed his constitutional term. With so much uncertainty and chaos taking place in the country at regular intervals, it is extremely important for the  policy  makers  to  revisit  the  National Security Policy of the country. Before moving into the need of revisiting the National Security Policy (NSP), it is  extremely  important  to  explain what exactly is NSP?  The  first NSP  of  Pakistan was approved by  the  Cabinet on the 28th of December, 2021. This was a classified version and the public version was launched for the public on the 14th of January, 2022.  The  policy was launched by the Prime Minister of Pakistan and tri services chiefs along with other senior military leadership, members of diplomatic corps, media, academia,  and  strategic  community  of Pakistan attended the event. The policy document was given a timeline of fiveyears. According to the then National Security Advisor (NSA) of the country, the policy was a product of 7 years of hard work and at the end consensus was reached among all stakeholders. The  NSA  also  shared  that  numerous consultations were held with experts from  all  walks  of  life  including  university students before a final document was compiled. The drafting committee also took feedback through focused groups  operating  under  the  umbrella of  government. In light of the current  crisis, it  is safe to say that Pakistan is facing a number of emerging challenges. These challenges include an impending economic crisis and  political  unrest  in  the  country.  On top of that the heatwave which is a direct result of climate change is also having its toll on the country. One of the key contributors to the economic woes of Pakistan is its import bill. As Pakistan doesn’t have vast reserves of petro chemcals, it is dependent on energy imports. A large portion of the imports compromise of fuel shipments. With the ongoing war in Russia and Ukraine, the oil prices are on a continuous rise which is going to have disastrous  impacts  on  the  Pakistani economy.  The  second  largest  import item is edible oil. Pakistan imports edible  oil  that’s  worth  billions  of  dollars. Another  key  factor  that  has  contributed to the economic crisis of Pakistan is that it has failed to increase its exports. Pakistan  has  a  very  small  export  basket and most of the items are not value added. Pakistani economy has received a big cushion in the form of COVID-19 and the exports have risen by almost $10 billion. This blessing in disguise has kept Pakistan afloat and played a vital role in sustaining the economy. However, this temporary boom needs to be consolidated and made sustainable. For  that Pakistan  will have to expand its export basket and also incentivize certain sectors to increase the export base. The political unrest in Pakistan is not a new phenomenon. In fact the unrest has evolved over the years  and  the  political  parties have become innovative over the years. The use of social media and disinformation  by  all parties  has  extensively contributed to the political unrest. The no confidence  movement filed by the joint opposition in March 2022 started  the  current  political crisis. As a result there has been no effective decision making from the previous  and  current  government. The stalemate has affected almost all segments of the society and as there is no direction, the regulators have also failed to perform their duties. It seems that the political unrest will not settle down for the comingmonths and the first victim of this crisis will be the people of Pakistan. Pakistan is one of the most vulnerable countries to Climate Change. By the time  Pakistan  started  to  take  this  phenomenon seriously, the ship had already sailed. With limited forest cover and depleting agricultural late in the name  of  urbanization  has  really  affected  the  country.  This  year  in  2022, Pakistan has witnessed an extreme heatwave  with  temperatures  raising as high as 50 degrees in multiple part of the country. Although Pakistan’s efforts  to  mitigate  the  impacts  of  climate change have been lauded by the international  community,  a lot needs to be done at all levels. Sensitizing the  public about this issue andt h e need to plant  more  and more trees is a must. Multiple  campaigns  that are endorsed by religious clergy, celebrities and social media  influencers  must  be  launch. To Conclude the policy would be periodically reviewed and every new government reserves the right to make amendments. This indeed was a very bold initiative by the policy makers. Also this sort of flexibility towards policies should be a must in a country like Pakistan  where  political  turbulence  never seems to end. In the current year, Pakistan has witnessed an exponential rise in terror related incidents. In order to address these issues through a comprehensive  and  wholesome  approach,  Pakistan must focus more on mitigating terrorism, the origin of the problem, how it is exploited and more work on the violent sub nationalists. The bombing on Chinese in Karachi  University  by a Baloch separatist group has exposed Pakistan’s NSP 2002 – 2026 is an overarching policy document that not only addresses the traditional issues but also lays out special emphasis on the  non-traditional  aspects  of  security. Unfortunately, Pakistan has a very troublesome domestic political landscape where long term policies have always failed to meet their objectives. Fortunately, the NSP comes with an inherent clause of review and revision which makes it a breathing document. After the no confidence movement in April 2022, Pakistan underwent a major political transition. The NSP must lay out a detailed plan that allows the law enforcement agencies to combat such issues.The  economic security cannot be the center pillar of a security policy. The right pillar should be the broader domain of human security which the NSP discusses in detail. This should be done on priority bases as  the  country  is  going  through  turbulent  times  and  if  priority  is  not given  to human  security,  Pakistan  will  embark on a journey of severe food shortages, health  crisis  and  above  all  will  turn  into a place where over 220 million people will be left without basis needs. Pakistan  cannot  afford  this  to  happen  and for that revisiting the NSP is a must.

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