Pakistan Reader# 273, 17 January 2022
On 14 January, the Government of Pakistan published the public version of the country’s first-ever National Security Policy document. This is a 50-page document meant for the public while the complete 110-page document would still remain classified. The document has identified a number of areas, each of which has been included with opportunities and challenges and the policy initiative of the Government for overcoming the same. Following are the major highlights and takeaways from the document:
1. National Cohesion
The document highlights the State of Pakistan facing challenges from its adversaries that use the country’s diversity to create hatred among each other. Nevertheless, the State of Pakistan has been able to successfully overcome these challenges and would continue to do so in the future. In addition to that, Pakistan also suffers from Socio-Economic inequalities where the speed of development and the available economic opportunities varies vastly among the different provinces. The policy objective of the State of Pakistan to improve National Cohesion includes focusing on National values that represent the spirit of patriotism in Pakistan, ensuring cooperation among different federal units and using E-governance to maintain transparency and accountability.
2. Economic Future
Considering the price hike and inflation seen in Pakistan over the past few years, the policy initiatives in this section becomes particularly more important as this impacts directly to a common citizen of Pakistan. As per the document the State of Pakistan aims to lower down its current account deficit, increase foreign investments by making use of its geo-strategic location and focus particularly on the upliftment of the lower-class section of the society.
Energy security also remains a top concern for the State of Pakistan. The country has seen a huge spike in the prices of gas during the wintertime. The issue of Energy security is so sensitive that it has led to a divide in the current ruling government’s approach over dealing with the price hike in gas supply. As per the document, Pakistan aims to move towards a Market-based energy sector and special focus would be given upon effectively using indigenous energy resources.
3. Defence and Territorial Integrity
This section in the document makes a note of conventional military threats faced by the country due to the current Indian government’s aggressive policies and intentions along with the need to secure borders, ensuring freedom of navigating in international waters, its intention of investing in space-based technology, the risk with cyber security and hybrid warfare threats. The policy objectives of the State of Pakistan continue to be to maintain territorial integrity, ensure the military has the capability to deter any external threat, improve its existing space-based technology and augment cyber security competencies.
4. Internal Security
The policy document acknowledges the fact of the country being challenged by the threat of terrorism, the feeling of sub-nationalism that sparks violence which is provoked and supported by foreign intelligence agencies, drug-related crimes and the threat of spreading extremism and sectarianism. The policy objective of the state is to combat the threat of terrorism, ensure Pakistan remains a safe country to reside and provide equal opportunities to all sections of the society so as to minimize resentment.
5. Foreign Policy
The major highlight of this section in the document is Pakistan’s intent of improving its economic gains through the use of political relations and in the same way using the new economic partnerships to garner political support. Pakistan’s interest in engaging with Russia for economic purposes could possibly be viewed as it using economic partnerships for future political and strategic support. It also plans to build strategies so as to counter the Anti-Pakistan narrative which according to the document is spread by its adversaries. With regard to the State of Pakistan’s intent of pursuing its relations with the neighbours, Middle East, US, UK, Europe, Central Asia and Russia, the document falls in line with the traditional choices Pakistan has been making over the past few years and there are no surprises.
The Foreign Policy of Pakistan suffered a huge setback when it failed to garner support from the OIC countries to criticize India’s actions of unilaterally changing Kashmir’s status. According to the document, Pakistan aims to adopt a self-confident and proactive foreign policy approach.
6. Human Security
This section highlights the State of Pakistan’s challenge to manage a vast young population, vulnerabilities in the health sector, the impact of climate change on Pakistan, food security challenges and the need to adopt a gender-focused security approach in order to give women and transgender of the country a safe working and living environment. Thus, the policy objectives of the State of Pakistan include improving rural economy and population management, improving health care facilities and making it affordable for the citizens, improving water management techniques to fight water scarcity, encouraging farmers to adopt sustainable and climate-friendly agricultural practices and promoting the participation of women in decision-making forums.
The National Security Policy document aims to bridge the gap in approaching traditional and non-traditional security threats by bringing it all under one umbrella so that a comprehensive security policy could be designed for the country. Nevertheless, this ambitious effort of PM Imran Khan like his other policies has faced criticism from the opposition for not being consulted. The central focus on improving economic security is quite visible and clear from the document and it remains to be seen how the current government manages to implement the envisioned policy objectives in its remaining term.
“National Security Policy of Pakistan 2022-2026,” National Security Division, 14 January 2022
“PM Imran launches public version of first-ever National security Policy,” Dawn, 14 January 2022
Rizwan Ghilzai, “PM Imran, Khattak spar during meeting,” The Express Tribune, 14 January 2022
Hassan Baig, “Tsunami of Price Hikes,” The News International, 15 November 2021