The statement issued after National Command Authority’s (NCA) 23rd meeting maintains that Pakistan would continue its policy of Full Spectrum Deterrence (FSD). The reason behind the statement is the growing challenges to Islamabad’s security and attempt to maintain strategic stability in the region. However, emphasis on the policy of preserving FSD and avoidance of arms race in a statement seems contradictory.

The sad truth that we know from the statement of NCA is that the arms race in South Asia is not going to end any soon. The nature of security competition between the two nuclear powers of South Asia is action-reaction spiral. The arms race between India and Pakistan is nothing but a classic case of a security dilemma that the two states are suffering from. Out of the three major threats identified by NCA, two are from India. First the Indian attempts to arms buildup and India’s aims for the development of Ballistic Missile Shield (BMD).

While it is understandable that Islamabad needs to maintain at least “Credible Minimum Deterrence,” it also means that Pakistan is going to spend more and more of its resources to keep the power balance in the region.

Keeping all these dilemmas in mind, however, it is also important to bear in mind that excessive spending on the military will stunt the growth of all other sectors of public life. According to Ministry of Planning Development and Reforms, 30% of Pakistan’s population lives below poverty line. Experts have constantly called out poverty the main reason of extremism in the country. In recent times the biggest challenge to the nation comes from within in the form of terrorism, not from India. Engagement in arms race and militarization of South Asia is the main obstacle in addressing issues of social and economic security of the poor in the region in general and in Pakistan in particular.