Pakistan’s first ever, long awaited National Security Policy (NSP) was launched by Prime Minister Imran Khan on Friday in the presence of the country’s civil and military leadership. Surprisingly, the home minister and defence minister were both missing from the gathering galaxy of the national elite.
This India-centric policy document has been under preparation for the last seven years and the present government should not be given all the credit for its formulation. The 100-page document is classified as top secret, which the government says the common citizen has no right to view. A shorter version of about 50 pages has been released for public consumption.
The main architect of this policy is National Security Advisor Dr. Moeed Yusuf, who burnt the midnight oil to bring it to completion in consultation with military high command and big bosses from the intelligence agencies. In short, the entire document appears to be the brainchild of the military establishment. This important national policy was not discussed in National Assembly or the Senate. The opposition was not taken on board, and no input was sought from any academics, researchers, scholars or think tanks. It was kept under wraps as a closely guarded secret under the usual guise of national security.
The new policy mainly focuses on the threat from arch-rival India, mentioning Pakistan’s neighbour to the east at least 16 times in the public version. The document indicates, “a just and peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute remains at the core of our bilateral relationship.”
Pakistan’s first ever security policy represents the strategic thinking of the powerful military establishment and, as expected, it has identified India as the main security threat to the country and China as its main strategic friend and partner.
There is a separate section on J&K, which reiterates the country’s position: “Pakistan remains steadfast in its moral, diplomatic, political, and legal support to the people of Kashmir until they achieve their right to self-determination guaranteed by the international community as per United Nations Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.”
The policy also emphasises Pakistan’s zero-tolerance policy for any groups involved in terrorist activities on its soil. The document states: “The employment of terrorism has become a preferred policy choice for hostile actors in addition to soft intrusion through various non-kinetic means. Terrorism is also being used to disrupt and delay development initiatives.”
Pakistan’s first ever security policy represents the strategic thinking of the powerful military establishment and, as expected, it has identified India as the main security threat to the country and China as its main strategic friend and partner. The document points out India’s ‘hegemonic designs’ and goes on to say that bilateral ties have been stymied as a consequences of the unresolved Kashmir dispute.
It is now obvious to some that the biggest threat to the security, or for that matter to the survival of the country, is from our own home grown monsters, i.e. the deadly militant fanatic groups formed in the name of Islamic jihad, not from any external force. Groups like the Lashkar-e-Taiba, Jaish-e-Mohammed, Harakat-ul-Islam, Tehreek-e-Labbaik Pakistan (TLP), and Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) have taken up arms against Pakistan and are hell bent on imposing their religious agenda on the country through the barrel of a gun. There is no mention in the policy document of any change of state policy towards our own extremist groups.
Today, as the country remains on the ‘Grey List’ of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), the NSP has listed several priorities “for continued improvement in our internal security environment.” They include, “strengthening police forces and associated counter terrorism agencies, undertaking intelligence based operations against all terrorist groups, preventing any use of financial sources for terrorism, addressing structural deficiencies and sense of deprivation in recruitment areas and promoting a pluralistic anti-terror network.” Again, no mention of the madrassa mafia or the state controlled militant groups.
In this day and age, economic security is as vital as military security. In today’s fiercely competitive world of complex systems of international trade, multinational agreements, interdependence and a scarcity of natural resources, there is limited freedom to develop independent economic policies. Regional security is in a state of flux due to the unexpected and hasty withdrawal of the US forces from Afghanistan. The internal situation of the country is extremely precarious due to a failing economy, price spirals, unemployment, the reemergence of terror groups like the TTP and TLP, weakening economy and an almost bankrupt state. Our arch enemy across the border continues to amass advanced modern lethal weapons that pose a grave challenge to the strategic stability of our region. This new policy document, half revealed, does not address any of the grave and dangerous issues facing the nation.
The NSP has been launched with much fanfare and applause by the regime, but it must first be debated at many levels before it is ratified and adopted by the elected parliament. A transparent and consensual acceptance of the policy will result in an environment that will enable all government departments, ministries and institutions to plan their strategies for the sake of collective national aims and objectives.
The document must be released in its complete form. So far it appears to be a summary of dangers and pitfalls hindering the country. It does not elaborate on the shortage of resources nor does it mention how will we develop consensus to address the concerns of Pakistan.