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Friday, March 31, 2023

Does Pakistan need to redefine security?

According to K Hussan Zia, a country's security cannot be achieved through weapons alone. In fact, institutional development of manpower, technology, economic and industrial resources are needed to support security as a whole.

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A country’s security can come under threat for a variety of reasons other than military aggression. These can include internal strife, economic collapse, prolonged political instability, lack of food supplies, power shortages, etc.

Paradoxically, it can even happen by increasing defense expenditure beyond the limit that the exchequer can bear. A recent example of the latter case has been the collapse of the erstwhile Soviet Union. Almost all of such situations arise out of improper planning and preparation.

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For a variety of reasons, in Pakistan, security was never considered as a composite issue consisting of many different parts but was looked upon in isolation primarily as a military subject. Consequently, institutional development of manpower, technology, economic and industrial resources needed to support security as a whole tended to take a back seat.

For instance, instead of developing indigenous capability, it was found convenient to purchase ready-made weapons and equipment with loans from foreign powers. It has reached a stage now where we have to borrow money to meet budgetary requirements and pay interest on the loans.

In short, Pakistan is on the verge of becoming, if not already, insolvent. In that event, her freedom of action, including defense capability will be subject to the dictates of the lender, and uppermost on the latter’s list of conditions and demands will be Pakistan’s nukes.

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Too late to act now?

This unenviable situation could easily have been foreseen by looking at the fates of countries like Egypt, Morocco, and Tunisia that had fallen into similar debt traps in the nineteenth century and lost their freedom.

The irony is that it was totally unnecessary for Pakistan, having the nuclear deterrent, to try and maintain at the same time a balance of conventional forces with India a country with many times larger resources.

Paradoxically, instead of being the guardian of freedom, the military now weakens it by consuming financial resources that could have gone to the development of other not so obvious but equally important components of national security and survival.

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Try as one might, it is hard to find a ray of hope in this situation. In hindsight, we really didn’t have to fight the two wars with India nor did we have to lay down the country for a foreign power’s misadventures in Afghanistan and more importantly also entertain their economic hitmen.

The time to act was when things started to go the wrong way. It is easy to say that we can recover but hard to see how it can be done. The leadership, unity, faith, discipline, and spirit of sacrifice needed to perform the miracle are not there. There is only one for his own self-interest first instead. The rest of us can only pray and hope.

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The writer is a retired naval officer and is the author of ‘Pakistan: Roots, Perspective and Genesis’ and Muslims and the West: A Muslim Perspective’. He can be reached at:hsnzia@rogers.com.The views expressed in the article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect the editorial policy of Global Village Space.