Pakistan framed its national security policy on December 27 last year and it was approved by the cabinet next day. It was hailed as “historic achievement” by National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf, who underlined its importance, for what he called, “a citizen-centric comprehensive NSP with economic security at the core.”
It was also given out that this shift implies, a shift from the military prowess to the economic stability and security for the common masses across the country.
This is a good news for the people of Pakistan, who have been living under the military domination all the decades since their nation came into being. It holds its importance, depending how far this crucial shift will be effected or otherwise, for the neighbouring countries.
The military sentiment in Pakistan has caused internal problems for the nation and also affected its relations with the neighbouring countries. Not only did it suffer, but also inflicted sufferings on the neighbouring countries, particularly India and Afghanistan.
Therefore, India should try to understand the real spirit behind this policy. It is yet to be made public , though broader contours have been spoken of through the twitter world .
National Security Policy is not a mere document listing the challenges and opportunities, nor it is purely the defence of physical borders, and to boost internal stability in isolation of the international order.
It is a window to the world, which enables the international community to assess emerging trends in the nation in question. In this 21st century world a click on mouse can reveal and change the whole set of dimensions, which may spell new opportunities and impose the burden of unanticipated challenges.
The NSP is an accumulation of imaginative ideas, holding promise for the nations to move ahead, navigating through difficult times, and at the same time doing ground work for holding charm for others outside its geographically defined borders, to intervene or invest.
This is a fragile policy work which gains tenacity only when put to test in real-time situations of opportunities and challenges. The best of the NSPs have limited view and expanse, as the modern-day world is moving at a pace - politically, strategically, technologically; that it is impossible to view all the situations, good or bad for the nations, through one policy.
The superpowers like America and Soviet Union had their own nemesis. At best, these lay the contours of what is there, what might happen, but the real content comes only with the evolving situations. These bring their own imperatives, successes and imperfections of the policy to light.
Till date, Pakistan has not revealed much about its NSP. Some high-sounding phrases have been used, to convey what it might look like. The major point, however, is the proposed shift from the military prowess to growth of economy.
Pakistan’s geo-political location, having boundaries with China, Iran and Central Asian countries, and the richness of the Arabian sea, place it in an ideal location to attract investment and capitalize on that. But a greater imperative, however, is the internal stability, and it is under threat from within.
Some of the internal fault lines have become too obvious – the growth of terrorism, and extremism, which have occupied the space, owing to the flip-flop of the government and the establishment because of their respective love for their self-interests. Another perennial problem of clash between the civilian and military leadership goes on unabated in Pakistan.
A promise to shift the economic security of its citizens, in itself is a very significant change if it really comes by, and means many things to the world. Pakistan’s relations with the US are not same what these used to be decades ago.
The Chinese influence is complete; Beijing dictates its domestic and foreign policies, and its leadership of all stripes is indebted to it for multiple reasons. China has advanced loans, and is the sole guiding force for its infrastructural development, which received a big boost with the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor.
The CPEC, however, has generated its own fault lines. The situation in Balochistan, particularly against the backdrop of what is happening in Gwadar, explains that in ample measure.
The locals are losing their rights. It is in agitational mode, despite agreements doting the timeline of problems and temporary solutions thereof. It is much more strangulating for Pakistan than the American influence and control of its institutions in the previous decades.
India has reasons to know the contours and content of the policy. The mere assertion by Pakistan that the “policy centered on peace with neighbouring and other countries as far as external relations were concerned,” is insufficient, because this, in the past, has shown Pakistan more in breach than adherence as far as relations with India are concerned.
Pakistan is so obsessed with its eastern neighbour that it cannot formulate any internal or external policy without factoring India into it. One of the biggest worries for India in particular is ever-growing extremism in Pakistan.
This infection is contagious and more dangerous than coronavirus, which has appeared in different variants. Extremism, when it grows and occupies geography and mental space doesn’t only kill people physically but also erodes values essential to humanity.
The technology of extremism is self-destructive. Extremism has may shades and these often give rise to counter-radicalism. In simple words, extremism and economy don’t go together in any part of the world. Pakistan cannot be an exception to this rule.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are the personal opinions of the author.
The facts, analysis, assumptions and perspective appearing in the article do not reflect the views of GK.