Global terrorism will gain strength if world abandons Afghanistan, warns NSA Yusuf

Published September 23, 2021
NSA Dr Moeed Yusuf speaks 
at the event on Wednesday.
—White Star
NSA Dr Moeed Yusuf speaks at the event on Wednesday. —White Star

KARACHI: “The core of Pakistan’s national security is economic security,” said National Security Adviser Dr Moeed Yusuf on Wednesday.

He was speaking at a programme about ‘Pakistan Future Direction’ organised by the English Speaking Union of Pakistan at a local hotel here.

“Built around that is military security, human welfare. Whenever we talk about national security, this comprehensive national security vision is on our minds and should be on everyone’s minds. You would ask why not military security? Why not human welfare? The issue is we need microeconomic stability to ensure that we have enough resources to spend adequately on our military and on our human welfare. The genius of policy is to ensure that your resource pile grows to a point where you can redistribute it adequately to everyone,” he explained.

Says the ultimate goal of national security is to ensure livelihood, personal safety and security for all

“But the ultimate goal of national security is to ensure that the most disempowered Pakistani citizen has a means to livelihood and personal safety and security. That is the ultimate objective of national security. So the prime minister often talks about Riasat-i-Madina. It is basically that the poorest Pakistani family is also able to be safe and secure and have a means to livelihood. That’s the approach we are taking,” he said.

Pakistan’s shift to geo-economic cadre

“All of our leadership regularly talks about Pakistan’s shift from a geopolitical to a geo-economic cadre, which is actually a transformation in terms of the thinking,” he said.

He added: “If you look at the past, our location has actually brought us global wars. Afghanistan is a very good example of this for the past 40 years. What we are looking at is how to utilise our location for geo-economic position. This has three pillars of which number one is connectivity. Given our location we can use where we sit to connect south from north, westward and eastward theoretically then you optimise the use of your location.

“So in terms of policy, you may have noticed a very strong shift towards Central Asia, an area that has been closed for a long time. You must have noticed three or four major visits including the one last week by the prime minister. Because it is from Central Asia connected through Afghanistan, down to our warm waters is by far the most economical route. It gives Afghanistan a mode of transit. Also that’s why the Gwadar port becomes important.

“Second is CPEC [China-Pakistan Economic Corridor]. Again the idea is connecting China down to the warm waters with Pakistan becoming the transit territory. If you understand the overall umbrella vision, it is very clear what we are trying to achieve, which is more infrastructure, more energy and transit through Pakistan,” Dr Yusuf explained.

“Theoretically, we can also extend connectivity eastward. Unfortunately, that side is closed due to the kind of government attitude and trajectory that India has,” he said.

“Next there are development partnerships. How do we create real partnerships in terms of trade, investment, export, etc? For that, of course, a lot has to be done. We need internal and regional peace,” he said.

‘Peace in Afghanistan essential’

“Peace in Afghanistan is essential. Unless Afghanistan is stable, how do you get a corridor from Central Asia down to warm waters? And unless Afghanistan is stable, how do you extend the connectivity that Pakistan has for more infrastructure, more energy through Afghanistan? That’s why this third element of peace in Afghanistan is critical,” he pointed out.

“Then there is human benefit. Everything from social safety programmes such as Ehsaas have helped us survive Covid too. This welfare orientation of the government has helped us do that. So the prime minister is very serious about this Riasat-i-Madina concept. The idea is redistribution towards the poorest Pakistani citizens,” he said.

“And then there is, of course, military security. Please name one other country to me which is in a neighbourhood where you have got a seven times larger neighbour with the history that we have had with India, that lives with a neighbour that has been in turmoil for 40 years, from where refugees are still in Pakistan. We have lost tremendously due to a battle that we didn’t start.

“The military part of this is that we are grossly under-resourced as far as our defence is concerned. There are very few countries that you can find who would be managing the situation with such small resources,” he said.

“Sadly perceptions matter more than reality today. Due to perception, you lose investment, you lose tourism, you lose serious conversations, the cricket team decides to leave. So here Pakistan has to do much to ensure that our stories get to the world,” he said.

“At this time, we are focused at a very broad vision of security. The biggest mistake that the world can make is to dwell on the past and repeat old mistakes where Afghanistan is concerned. If this region is abandoned international terrorism will get strong. We stand for an inclusive government. This requires that Afghanistan stabilises,” he said.

Published in Dawn, September 23rd, 2021

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