Home Global Village The emerging National Security Challenges for Pakistan

The emerging National Security Challenges for Pakistan


Junaid Jhandad |

There is a consensus among the scholars of security studies that “security is an essentially contested concept”. In an elementary term, it portrays that there is no universally accepted definition of security. Consequently, the delineation of security varies from person to person, scholar to scholar, and hence from state to state.

The question arises regarding the consequences of this agreement and whether it is reasonably a rigid task in order to grasp the gist of security? The most predominant difficulty accompanied with this assent is that when a nation or a state, is powerless in, merely, unfolding the meaning of security then what are the probabilities that one will be able to accomplish it.

Pakistan is not a different case where a hot debate was ignited between the political and military elites of the state after the statement of COAS General Qamar Javed Bajwa. According to Bajwa’s statement that, presently, due to the altered dynamics of international politics, national security and economy are interwoven with each other. Additionally, he also specified that ailing economy of Pakistan is hurting the security situation and that the country is inept to relish the exact essence of “national security” without attaining a resilient economy.

The state of Pakistan has to compromise its foreign policy vis-à-vis those states are concerned who offer economic backing to it. A recent example of such concession is that Pakistan has to; recently, amend its decision of sending troops to Saudi Arabia.

DG ISPR also emphasized upon the significance of the economic stability as far as national security is concerned. Nevertheless, a number of government ministers outstandingly criticized these assessments and they were of the opinion that military elites should not give these sorts of statements. This debate was also highlighted by several news channels and newspapers.

As aforementioned that security is a fundamentally disputed concept hence the debate will always exist, not merely among scholars, nonetheless likewise, amongst policy makers, and between military and political elites in Pakistan. Though, it is substantial for the policy makers and political elite to comprehend that security is not purely related to external military threats.        

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COAS of Pakistan and DG ISPR quite precisely and timely stressed the prominence of the economy in the realm of Pakistan’s security. According to Copenhagen school of security studies, at present, security does not solely signify external military intimidations, rather economic threats, societal threats, political threats, and environmental threats also emanate under the umbrella of security/national security.

Recent developments, that is, USA deferred assistance of approximately $1 billion to Pakistan and USA’s proposal in financial action task force (FATF) to place Pakistan’s name on FATF’s grey list. And the reaction of Pakistan’s policy makers and political elites on these latest advances has further concreted the fact that it is imperative to admit the significance of economic threats in Pakistan’s security framework.   

The most predominant difficulty accompanied with this assent is that when a nation or a state, is powerless in, merely, unfolding the meaning of security then what are the probabilities that one will be able to accomplish it.   

Pakistan is a post-colonial state and hence its security predicaments differentiate from security complications of western states. According to post-colonial school of security studies, security quandaries of post-colonial states are quite diverse from the western states. A post-colonial state like of Pakistan has to deal with external as well as internal threats. Moreover, according to the scholars, post-colonial states not merely face intra-state conflicts, ethnic conflicts, and sectarian clashes, rather the nation of such states lacks adaptability of the concept of state and hence it causes problems of tax collection etc.

As Pakistan is a post-colonial state and no one can deny the fact that roughly all the governments, let it be military regime or a democratic one, has failed to expand tax network and henceforth it has generated sluggishness in the economic sector.

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Since its inception, the predominant sector of Pakistan’s security has been external military threats from neighboring country. There are several reasons for this specific preponderance of external military threats, which includes territorial issues with the belligerent neighbor and its geographical location due to which it has been an apple of great power’s eye.

Nevertheless, it is need of the hour that political elites and policymakers of Pakistan should admit the reality that solely countering external military threats should not be the penchant of Pakistan’s security framework.

Pakistan is a post-colonial state; hence it is not competent enough to enhance its security framework to human security or individual security. Nonetheless, it is indispensable to pay high attention to the economic threats and to incorporate economic predicaments under the umbrella of security.  

As aforementioned that security is a fundamentally disputed concept hence the debate will always exist, not merely among scholars, nonetheless likewise, amongst policy makers, and between military and political elites in Pakistan.

Otherwise, the state of Pakistan has to compromise its foreign policy vis-à-vis those states are concerned who offer economic backing to it. A recent example of such concession is that Pakistan has to; recently, amend its decision of sending troops to Saudi Arabia.

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Beggars cannot be Choosers

As an English phrase states that beggars cannot be choosers, same is the case of Pakistan. When it pleads for financial assistance or for support in FATF voting, to avoid hampering its economy, from the USA and Saudi Arabia etc, then, it hinders Pakistan’s choices of operations against specific groups and it also impedes its policy options to act neutral in Yemen war. Consequently, due to its weak economic situation, Pakistan has to compromise its foreign policy and in turn eventually its national security.

COAS and DG ISPR were quite accurate while stating that a country cannot relish its national security without securitizing its economic sector. It is vital for the state of Pakistan to integrate sluggish economic growth and economic threat as jeopardies to its national security.

Hence, the state of Pakistan should consider economic threats as the most existential quandaries, and it is imperative to utilize all the resources and state apparatus to overcome the threats to its economy. Unless and until political elites and policymakers do not amend their preferences to security threats, the state of Pakistan cannot relish its ample security stability internally as well as externally.          

Junaid Jhandad is a lecturer at NUML and has studied International Politics and Security Studies at the University of Bradford.  He is the award holder of William H Alchin and Thomas K Quinn Bursary from the University of Bradford. The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Global Village Space’s editorial policy.             

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