Concept of National Security Pakistan Needs

Globalization has made national borders irrelevant, with wide-ranging changes in the concept of national security. Rather than the military securing territorial space, security policy is now evaluated more in terms of human, economic and cultural terms.

Posted on 09/10/14
By Ikram Sehgal | Via ViewsWeek
(Photo by junaidrao, Creative Commons License)
(Photo by junaidrao, Creative Commons License)

The bankruptcy of our policies has put us (Pakistan) under pressure internationally from disparate forces with vested interest. Domestically this only force-multiplies the effect of the constant attack by the forces of evil, their appetite for loot and plunder not yet satiated after more than half a century. The recent set of political, economic and diplomatic crisis having created a near critical condition, one must examine the failure of the mechanics of governance and take remedial measures thereof.


Political scientist Hans Morgenthau defined National Security in his “Politics among Nations” as “the integrity of the national territory and its institutions”. Globalization has since made national borders irrelevant, with wide-ranging changes in the concept of national security.  Rather than the military securing territorial space, security policy is now evaluated more in terms of human, economic and cultural terms.


We have no institutionalized decision-making process with focus and coherence in terms of values, interests and objectives. Failing to consult sources from outside government for input on a whole range of issues, Pakistan has been trying “ad hoc” and “containment” measures in one form or the other for 60 years. We have been holding our own at the tactical level in a slip-shod, fickle and disorganized manner, giving only lip-service to ground realities.


The lack of strategic harmony makes decisions not being formulated in a coherent and integrated manner. There is no dispassionate examination of causes and affects for comprehension, adequate analysis, planning and implementation thereof. Reliance is based on intelligence agencies with their inherent limitations, prejudices and shortcomings, individual whims and caprices making for arbitrary decision-making. Only a permanent mechanism can draw upon all federal and provincial resources for information gathering, collation of recommendations and preparation of option papers that can lead to sound decision-making.


The inadequacies of the present system are, viz, (1) despite well-structured intelligence organizations, the armed forces have limited inputs from policymakers or experts in foreign policy and economic management (2) limited or no coordination between the civilian and armed forces intelligence agencies (3) periodical assessments affecting national security do not result in any institutionalized decision-making process, GHQ (Pakistan army’s general headquarters) does have an organized process but having become part of the problem they occasionally step in to correct, can the khakis (army) comprehend and cope with the complexities of civilian governance? (4) the perspectives and assessments of the military establishment and the elected civilian setup on different aspects of national security differ, there is recurrent political instability because of periodical tensions (5) without a National Security Council (NSC) Secretariat, an integrated view to formulate cohesive policy options and strategies is lacking and (6) without the NSC or its own Secretariat, the Defense Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) role is limited and rarely discusses major national security issues.


National Security Strategy must serve five primary purposes, viz (1) to communicate strategic vision to both the Executive and Parliament, and thus legitimize the rationale for resources. As the elements of national power they need a common understanding of the strategic environment and the administration’s intent (2) communicate the same common vision to the citizens of the country, intelligentsia and masses alike (3) communicate coherence and farsightedness in the security policies of government that all citizens fully support (4) forge consensus among competing views on direction, priorities and pace  (5) contribute in substance to the national agenda of the political leadership in power. What follows is an interactive, interagency process to resolve differences and approve the final document.


Advancing Pakistan’s internal and external security interests must relate to integrating efforts to, viz (1) enhancing our security (2) promoting prosperity at home and (3) promoting democracy. The main objectives must be, viz (1) Maintaining the integrity and security of Pakistan (2) Securing the safety of its strategic assets (3) Rehabilitating the economy and restoring investor confidence (4) Dealing firmly with militancy and religious extremism (5) Avoiding any damage to the Kashmir cause (6) Strengthening the Federation by removing inter-provincial disharmony and restoring national cohesion (7) Ensuring law and order and dispensing of speedy justice without the executive and judiciary being selective about application of the rule of law (8) De-politicizing of State institutions (9) meaningful electoral reforms with direct elections to all Assemblies on verified electoral rolls (10) effective devolution of power to the grass-roots level (11) eradicating corruption by carrying out swift, fair and across the board accountability (12) Declaring a war against drugs, illegal immigration and human trafficking (13) Taking pragmatic steps to eradicating/minimizing poverty (14) Curtailing the internal proliferation of weapons and (15) Creating a National Identity competing with the Ethnic ones.


With large segments of our society remaining poor, deprived and marginally trained, the talented and the selected few must get access to quality education. We must improve the quality of our middle and higher echelons of leadership to provide dividends, with nepotism and corruption among leadership being ruthlessly eliminated.


Pakistan today is not the land of Islam the Prophet (PBUH) would have wanted, the vision envisaged by the great poet Iqbal or the nation the Father of the country, Quaid-e-Azam, whose 65thDeath Anniversary is by coincidence today, created it to be! Every nation is an organized entity that needs a roadmap to clearly define what we are, what we want to be and how to get there (Excerpts from talk at the Pakistan Navy War College, Lahore, on Thursday Sep 11, 2014).


The writer is a Pakistan-based defense and political analyst. He can be contacted at

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