Security of a nation is the prime responsibility of those who run the country. Nations have to prepare and protect internally and externally the lives and livelihoods of the people of the country. Wars, conflict, terrorism are all first to the mind words that describe security dangers. The dangers of becoming entangled in spillover conflicts have been witnessed for decades. The Russian invasion of Afghanistan in the 80s and the American invasion of Afghanistan post 9/11 have made Pakistan suffer in many ways. The debate of whether it was a suffering that was avoidable is arguable but whether it could have been better managed is indisputable. The rise of terrorism in Pakistan has been a result of flawed government policy decisions, with the result that Pakistan has been categorized as one of the most dangerous countries to visit, invest, play and live in.
Security was, and is, a top agenda, however its limited and uni-dimensional view has made it vulnerable to relapses and spikes in terrorist attacks from time and time. National Security is a multi-dimensional area. The constitution of Pakistan has prescribed that the state is responsible for the safety of its citizen. Most people relate this with physical safety. True, but there is more to it than just preventing and combating terror attacks. In most countries security is composed of all those elements that endanger the physical, financial and mental existence of its citizens. That is why National Security encompasses Military Security, Economic Security, Energy Security, Food Security and Environment Security.
Military security is directly tied to preventing and combating internal and external threats. Military operations have been successfully going on in Pakistan in the form of Raddul Fassad and Zarb e Azb. These operations have been effective in curbing terrorists attacks and dismantling terror dens. However if military operations were the only solution, wars in Afghanistan and Iraq would not have led to more violence. Similarly, in Pakistan National Security is immediately tagged with civil military relations, National Defence Security meetings, Core Commander’s meetings and anti terrorism operations. These forums/platforms are very important however they are basically problem solving focused as per their mandate that deals with operational side of the issue. All research proves that if the other parts of National Security are needed not taken seriously security will always be insecure.
China and India are examples of how economics prowess can propel national security. China known as the world’s factory has created an unprecedented job market giving people employment, education and entrepreneurship. Their exports have flooded the world. Trade surplus with US is $ 347 billion as its exports to US were $ 463 billion and imports only $ 116 billion. When the economy is independent and its people have food and jobs, threats like terrorism or crimes or foreign country dictates of do more are negligible. China is known as an economic super power which externally gives them bargaining power and internally gives their people the opportunity to focus on improving their lives.
Contrast that with the precarious situation Pakistan is in and we understand why India and US are always able to get away with their propaganda against Pakistan. A country’s economic situation is represented by its Balance of Payment statement which shows its ability to sustain its own expenditures or to make it borrow to survive. Pakistan’s economy has been warned by all international institutions on its economic vulnerability and risk. The present government has broken all records of burying the country in debt. In four years $ 35 billion in new loans have been taken spiraling the external debt to $ 79.2 billion. Just the debt servicing cost has ballooned to Rs 15 billion. The trade deficit has this year increased by 30%. The current account deficit widened to $12.1bn last financial year from less than $5bn a year ago as the trade gap rose to an all-time high of $26.9bn on the back of an 18 per cent surge in imports and 1.3pc dip in exports.
The way the economy is going another borrowing from IMF is highly likely for further debt to pay off earlier debt. With motorway and airports being mortgaged to obtain debt the country becomes a safe haven for economic takeover. A deeply desperately dependent economy is the biggest security risk as it is becomes vulnerable to foreign policy encroachments on its sovereignty and internally the constant pressure on more indirect taxes and shrinking economy makes it a breeding ground for unrest, crime and violence. Add to this pressure on resources the endless energy deficit, food insecurity and environmental risks and Pakistan becomes a classic case study of the 5th most populous country in the world with 60% population under 30 just simmering with conflict and violence.
One of the biggest examples of how national security is more than just military might is the National Action Plan. NAP was debated and signed by all political parties and security heads and it contained 20 action points. An analysis of these points tells you that security involves a comprehensive approach where economic development and institutional development are key to sustainable security. Of the 20 action points 13 deal with political economy which range from changing the education system of madrassahs, developing and alternative narrative, to FATA reforms encouraging development in these areas.
Military has been in FATA and Baluchistan for decades but till date they remain the most unsafe parts of Pakistan. Terror attacks happen with regular frequency. The fact that these areas are the least developed areas of Pakistan with lowest literacy rates, highest unemployment and non existent health facilities make them fertile grounds for sowing and deepening the roots of rebellion receptive to narratives based on religion, anti -Americanism and inequality. The failure of government after government to revive provincial economy of Baluchistan and main stream FATA has left these provinces stranded inviting all sorts of internal and external aggression not only endangering security of the province but of the whole country. Unless an integrated view, understanding, policymaking and non negotiable implementation is not undertaken by the governments in the center and in the provinces national security will just be a recipe of all guns and no roses.