Security policy unveiled

Published January 17, 2022

PAKISTAN’S freshly unveiled National Security Policy has broadened the traditional concept and included economic stability as a key component. Prepared by the National Security Division led by National Security Advisor Dr Moeed Yusuf, the report provides a comprehensive framework for looking at national security by making it more holistic and inclusive. By bringing geoeconomics into the centre of the concept, the NSP also charts a clear vision for policymaking at the national level.

Prime Minister Imran Khan launched the report in Islamabad and underscored that a country cannot be secure without having a sound economy. The NSP has done well to distinguish between traditional security — represented by defence, territorial integrity, diplomacy — and non-traditional security that includes the country’s economic health and the well-being of its citizens.

“The country’s security imperatives in the next decade will be driven by the need to realise its economic potential while ensuring national cohesion, territorial integrity, internal security, and citizen welfare,” states the report.

The expanded definition of national security is a welcome one. For too long have narrow national security concerns defined the priorities of the country. Such a narrow focus on traditional aspects of national security has led to resources being skewed in favour of these areas at the expense of all others. By positioning citizen’s welfare at the core of the new concept, the NSP acknowledges that only a paradigm shift in thinking among the decision-makers can lead to re-formatting of priorities.

The NSP is vague in many areas but an umbrella document such as this one is not expected to deliver on details. It is supposed to provide a broad framework and a clear direction for policymaking and guide decision makers in picking the right choices for resource allocation. The NSP has taken years to compile but as a living document that can evolve with time, it is a very useful addition to the state’s policy toolkit. It should prod the leaders to take a closer look at the requirements of geoeconomics and especially when they run counter to the traditional thinking on hard security matters.

Read: Redefining national security

The issue of trade with India may provide a test case. Geoeconomics may require Pakistan to relook at the decision of not trading with India when increased trade could deliver tremendous benefits. There should be a debate on how Pakistan can delink this issue with political problems with India that remain intractable. If the NSP can trigger such strategic re-evaluation of national priorities, it would have served a very useful purpose.

Now that the report has been launched, it should be debated threadbare in parliament. It requires a buy-in from all stakeholders and therefore the government should provide full opportunity to the opposition to dissect it and provide inputs that may be included in the report at some point.

Published in Dawn, January 17th, 2022

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