National Security Policy: A Fresh Outlook By Prof Dr Azhar Ahmad

THE National Security Policy of Pakistan 2022-2026 (NSP) was finally launched by the Prime Minister of Pakistan on January 14, 2022.

National Security Policy is a framework or a set of guiding principles which provides vision and direction to subordinate sectors of the government.

It is definitely a step in the right direction and the initiative needs to be appreciated. The document opens up with the message of the Prime Minister which is very apt and succinctly puts forth the intention and direction of the government. However, the message by the National Security Advisor (NSA) does not seem in harmony with the PM’s vision.

Since the actual document is a secret and not releasable to the public, a comprehensive rational analysis is not possible. Without sounding too critical, some major areas are highlighted for clarity.

Strangely, the NSP has been given an “expiry date” in its title, suggesting that the policy is only for four years. Inclusion of this deadline defies the very essence of the policy. National vision and principles do not come with expiry dates.

Such policies or documents are live documents which continue to evolve. It is not advisable to have a national policy just for four years which will become irrelevant on a given date. A quick glance on similar national policies will reveal the fact.

The policies, to be effective, must be long term and provide broad directions and guiding principles so that subordinate departments can formulate their vision and policies in the light of the same.

It should not give an impression that the document was launched more as a publicity stunt than the intending purpose.

The more glaring area in my opinion that needs immediate and serious attention is priority attributed to economic security in the document vis-a-vis human security.

The message of the NSA states, “Our national security thinking seeks to identify means of expanding economic resources, the most prudent approach is to keep economic security at the core.”

While the idea of economic security sounds brilliant to the unsuspecting layman, it needs deeper understanding. This idea comes straight from the text books of the capitalist elite and institutions like the IMF and the World Bank.

This thinking only facilitates the job of the “economic hit men” already very actively pursuing the capitalist agenda in Pakistan. Development of a country is dependent on Good Governance which is a product of political stability and good leadership, besides other factors.

Good governance will almost automatically result in economic or any other security. Good leadership, as well as political stability is dependent on the quality of human resource and that is the area which should be at the core of our policy making.

Money cannot guarantee leadership skills and political stability but good governance will certainly result in long-term economic development and stability.

Talking of economic security without striving for good governance and political stability is like putting the cart before the horse and thus, confusing the cause and effect. It has been our dilemma for decades that we have not understood this phenomenon and have kept our priorities wrong.

Perhaps because it suited national as well as international rulers and helps keeping us shackled to imperialist money lending institutions, which, in turn, influence our political decision making and governance as well.

Talking of human development, the most important single factor that can influence all types of security is education.

One could only hope that such an important document would underscore the significance of education in nation building and security, and devote some space to this important element.

However, education could not earn a single paragraph at its own and only finds a space of a small paragraph titled, “education, technology and innovation” that too under the section “security of our economic future”.

This implies that even education is a subset of economy and not otherwise. This is a clear example of misplaced obsession with economy without addressing the core issues.

The PM’s message states, “the National Security Policy centres on my government’s vision, which believes that the security of Pakistan rests in the security of its citizens.

This citizen centric approach to national security prioritizes national cohesion and the prosperity of people, while guaranteeing fundamental rights and social justice without discrimination.” The NSP does not seem to follow this balanced advice.

During one of the earlier sessions while debating on the NSP draft, with the team of the NSA, I pointed out to this fact to which the chair responded by telling me, “We are following the Chinese model”. After having taught to China university students for over a decade, I realize that there is a serious misunderstanding among the people about China’s economic rise.

The sequence of China’s rise is clear good leadership reforms within the government as well as in the ruling communist party, leading to good governance and economic reforms.

Reversing the order has not achieved the results in the past and will not achieve the desired results in the future.

—The writer teaches international relations at Bahria University.​

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