The National Security Policy



March 1, 2022

Ambassador Alam Brohi looks at the important document of The National Security Policy

The National Security Policy (NSP) is said to be a consensus document evolved after eight years of threadbare discussions and consultations at various governmental and strategic tiers and close coordination among all the governing and controlling institutions. These discussions examined the strengths and weaknesses, inherent or self-created, in our culturally diverse society; extensively reviewed the traditional and nontraditional threats and brought forth a roadmap for the future course of action to solidify national security.
For the first time in our history, such a document has been adopted and presented for national debate for further improvement keeping in view the fluid international situation and fast-evolving political and economic power centres the world over. The document has been kept flexible and amenable for periodical review and reorientation. The NSP is being looked into from different angles. It has been criticised as a mere pack of long-winded verbosity and high sounding intents without any substantive strategy and resources for its implementation. The doubts expressed by many analysts about the implementation of the NSP or the wide gap between the national resources and the NSP objectives have greater substance.
I would look at the document from an entirely different perspective to evaluate its significance as a course correction policy. For the first time in our national history, a national document of this import has so candidly acknowledged our past transgressions in building an independent, sovereign and self-respecting nation. The first condition for a national course correction is to honestly acknowledge past mistakes. The NSP has done this. Hopefully, this would not be a one-time acknowledgement of the past national aberrations but a constant and persistent driving force for a real course correction.
Firstly, it is reassuring that the ruling class has acknowledged the importance of the common citizens in national security. Placing the people at the core of the National Security Policy, the authorities have candidly identified and publicly acknowledged the factors that have constantly marred our evolution as a nation. These notably include the lack of rule of law; the absence of equality before the law; the growing gap between the haves and have-nots; the existing social injustice and economic inequity; the utter failure of the successive governments to meet the basic needs of the poor population in terms of secure life and property, education, healthcare and livelihood. This is significant that our rulers have finally come out of their stupor and made a clean breast of the factors that have been weakening our internal strength.
Secondly, the NSP acknowledges the skewed relationship between the Federation and the federating units. We all know the serious apprehensions of the smaller federating units against the bigger province in terms of representation in political and representative institutions, national finance commissions, appointments to federal jobs including all the three services of the Pakistan Armed Forces, distribution of irrigation water from the Indus River System. These issues have in the past created bitterness in smaller provinces against the bigger Punjab. This has been used as a lethal weapon by the adversarial powers to weaken our national harmony.
Thirdly, the NSP acknowledges the significance of the 18th Amendment in addressing the contentious issues between the federation and the federal units including the touchiest issue of provincial autonomy. There have been apprehensions in the smaller provinces particularly in Sindh that the federal authorities were not happy with certain clauses of this constitutional amendment and wanted to do away with them. The nationalists in Sindh have been agitating this issue. Another welcome step in the NSP is the acknowledgement of the importance of the constitutional forums including the Council of Common Interests and NFCs in addressing the contentious issues.
Fourthly, it is gratifying to observe that the federal authorities have publicly acknowledged the growing threat of violent sub-nationalism to national security with a realisation to reconcile with the reconcilable sub nationalist. The sub-nationalism is fuelled within a nation by the unjust, arrogant, and condescending attitude of the federal authorities or the majority ethno-cultural and political community towards the relatively smaller components of the state. Pakistan is a multi-cultural, multi-lingual state, and has suffered gravely from ethno-cultural sub-nationalism in the past and continues to confront such a phenomenon for a myriad of factors including the controversy between the federal authorities and provinces over the provincial coastal regions, lands and resources, and uneven development between the federating units.
Fifthly, we have finally acknowledged the importance of economic independence. This has resulted in a shift in the foreign policy paradigm from geostrategic and geo-politics to geo-economics. The aid-dependent economy has been our Achilles’ heel. The back-breaking accumulation of foreign loans; the chronic stagnation in exports; the burgeoning import bill; the circular debt gathering public sector enterprises; the gnawing current account deficit; the ever-increasing overhead expenditures and shrinking revenues; the narrow tax base and the poor tax collection have been the alarming features of our economic woes. To put the economy on the right trajectory would be an uphill, if not insurmountable, task. This is where the rulers will have a litmus test.
There are other important factors too including religious militancy, terrorism, cultural invasion, malicious propaganda against governmental institutions and hybrid war by enemy states, traditional threats, deterrence etc. which have been reviewed in the NSP. We require greater political will and national commitment, and wise leadership to deal with all the above through short term measures and long term policies. The economy would pose a formidable challenge requiring drastic cuts in the governmental and institutional expenditures and the import bill and the diversification of exports. This is where the NSP poses a formidable challenge for our weak leaders.
No doubt, the implementation of the National Security Policy, as acknowledged by our leaders, would require a seamless whole of government endeavour. All the pillars of the state have to work in concert to achieve the desired objectives of NSP through short term measures and long term policies. This is the only advisable way to fulfill the aims laid out in this important national document and if this aspect is ignored than the entire exercise may not be able to come to fruition. It is high time that all stakeholders in this respect take cognisance of the significance of their respective roles and perform accordingly.TW

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Alam Brohi is former Ambassador of Pakistan and was associated with Foreign Service of Pakistan


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