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Pakistan in 2022, National Security Challenges

Finally, January marks the beginning of 2022 and reminds us of our existing challenges, and continuing struggle to modernize economy, role of technology and skill development, population pressures, woman empowerment, and myriad issues related to all these.

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First things first! Congratulations to the Supreme Judicial Council for making history when they elevated first woman to the bench of country’s apex court! And thanks to outgoing Chief Justice, Hon. Gulzar Ahmed, whose help made it possible. With Justice Ayesha Malik, Pakistan’s history has finally reached where the U.S. had reached with Sandra O Connor in 1981 and India with Fathima Beevi in 1989 – Pakistan’s woman has to travel a long road ahead, but the journey increasingly looks good!

Let us also congratulate PM Imran Khan, all his team, and especially NSA Dr. Moeed Yusuf on launching Pakistan’s first National Security Policy document worked on over seven years. It lays out the country’s priorities in 110 pages (although only around 60 pages are being made public). The citizen-centric approach to security comprehensively covers six critical fundamentals to the wellbeing of the individual and the nation: national cohesion, economy, foreign policy, territorial, internal, and human security.

While there is no doubt that having a holistic national security philosophy is a worthwhile endeavor to give the ‘state’ an underlying direction that in Pakistan’s case was always up in the air and driven only by military jargon. However, while reading the current document full of laudable objectives, it is unclear whether it is intended to be a big picture or a detail-oriented document. Having not decided, it manages to miss being either.

A belated realization has finally dawned on Pakistan’s policymakers that economics and a strong economy drive a country’s international standing! For the past year, we have suddenly discovered a new jargon in our chest of treasures – the importance of ‘geo-economics’ in pushing the nation’s priorities forward, presumably as opposed to geo-strategy or geo-politics. It is undoubtedly a commendable effort to focus on the economy and people’s wellbeing; however, it is not clear how realistic an achievement this will be. The three pages that deal with economic security are patchy and superficial at best in terms of output desired and means of delivery.

We need to have all hands on deck agreeing on the NSP, so we think that it is vital that the government proactively engages with opposition parties to create a consensus on its acceptance. Furthermore, its positive focus on reducing what it calls horizontal disparity between provinces means that the council of common interests should also be actively engaged in its review and implementation. However, notwithstanding all the criticism – having the document in public now enables all and sundry to debate and identify those areas, which may require more thought and varied input. Imran Khan government’s hard work over the past three and half years has finally delivered a blueprint. Now debate and consensus are essential prerequisites to the success of the NSP – and this is the system’s collective responsibility!

Finally, January marks the beginning of 2022 and reminds us of our existing challenges, and continuing struggle to modernize economy, role of technology and skill development, population pressures, woman empowerment, and myriad issues related to all these. Well thought out pieces by Gen (r ) Asad Durrani, Shahid Raza, Nadeem Mujtaba, Dr. Manzoor Ahmed, Shahid Sattar, Javed Hassan take shots on these issues! Don’t miss out on an interesting analysis of “Where Men and Mountains Meet” (FWO Documentary) by Editor, Dr. Moeed Pirzada!

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