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ISLAMABAD: A high-level meeting held on Friday with Interior Minister Ahsan Iqbal in the chair approved the roadmap for a new internal security policy.

The plan includes three rounds of consultation sessions involving key stakeholders and a national conference on internal security.

The meeting was attended by officials from law enforcement agencies, counterterrorism force, home ministries of provincial governments, Higher Education Commission and the Ministry of Interior.

The policy framework identified political parties, policymakers, academics, analysts, educationists, journalists, religious scholars, legal experts, civil society organisations and representatives of marginalised groups — youth, minorities, women — who will be engaged during the process of policy formulation as major stakeholders.

The key inputs required from the government departments include an assessment of the initiatives that have been effective in ensuring security and those that are now redundant as well as assessment of key bottlenecks and blockages that impede optimal performance and suggestions to remove the impediments and make government departments and law enforcement agencies more effective.

It was recognised that similar policy exercises in the past lacked implementation and, therefore, detailed implementation strategy, monitoring and evaluation mechanism and funding requirements would be included in the policy and given particular attention.

Establishing rule of law, ensuring political stability and providing social justice are key areas of policy

Speaking on the occasion, Ahsan Iqbal said the roadmap for formulation of National Internal Security Policy 2018-23 was centred on the goals defined in vision-2025 that envisaged a sharing peace, stability and development link.

“We have steered the country towards progress by enabling peace and political stability to take root in the country,” he said, adding that political stability played a vital role in development, which required avoiding conflicts in all forms and manifestations.

“National security has become a broad subject with social, political and economic dimensions gaining importance,” he noted.

The minister said the nature of threats was changing with technological revolution, maintaining that the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor had changed geo-political equilibrium in the region due to which new geo-political pressures were developing on Pakistan.

“We must develop a comprehensive approach with the ownership of all stakeholders to succeed in implementation,” he said.

Mr Iqbal also stressed that the country’s youth constituted a major part of the population and was an asset.

The minister sought feedback from all stakeholders and their continued engagement during the policymaking process, saying that internal and external affairs were interconnected and had implications on the domestic and foreign policies.

It is to be noted that basic tenets of the policy encapsulated the four key areas to improve peace and security viz: creating a shared vision, establishing rule of law, ensuring political stability and providing social justice.

This represents a move towards evidence-based policymaking in order to design policy interventions that deal with not only the symptoms, but also the root causes of security issues.

Published in Dawn, January 13th, 2018