Economic stability takes centerstage in Pakistan’s first comprehensive national security policy

Pakistan has placed economic stability at the core of its comprehensive National Security Policy, a first of its kind vision document the government has prepared for the next five years, starting from 2022

Dec 28, 2021
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Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan held a meeting of the National Security Council (Photo: Dawn)

Pakistan has placed economic stability at the core of its comprehensive National Security Policy, a first of its kind vision document the government has prepared for the next five years, starting from 2022. 

Both traditional security and non-security challenges like human security, economy, and population growth figure in the document. 

On Monday, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan held a meeting of the National Security Council (NSC), the country’s top security body, and was presented with the vision document. The document, cleared by the NSC, will guide the government’s foreign, defense, and economic policies and decision-making, Dawn reported. 

Significantly, the timing of drafting a comprehensive national security policy is important. After the Taliban’s takeover in Afghanistan—although a long-desired goal of the Pakistan military, the challenges aren’t any less Pakistan. The recent developments have in fact emboldened Islamist and militant groups—many of them in Pakistan—that are now flexing their muscles. 

As its economy struggled for years, reducing the country’s national power, there is now a clear realization, especially within its powerful military, about its limited leverage in pursuing both its security and economic goals in the region.

The rise of radical Islamist parties likes the Tehreek-e-Lebbaik (TLP) in the country’s mainstream politics, further weakened the government’s ability to rein in growing extremism. The TLP, through its recent violent protests, almost arm-twisted the government into signing a secret peace deal, paving way for the group’s delisting from the banned list. 

Pakistan, despite being extremely close to China, both economically and strategically, still heavily depends on the West, mainly due to the preferential market access it gets for its goods and multilateral financing. The rhetoric from the Islamist group like the TLP–which had sought the expulsion of the French ambassador—could spell trouble for its relations with the West.  

Significantly, the new document, which will be passed by the Cabinet in the coming days, wants Pakistan to avoid being sucked into the bloc politics of big powers, especially when the world order is in the transition phase. This came after the US—of which Pakistan is a major non-NATO ally—has significantly decreased the scope of its relationship with Pakistan, after its 20-year-long project in Afghanistan came crashing this August. 

The new national security policy sought to leverage the symbiotic linkages among human security, economic security, and military security with the safety and prosperity of citizens being at the center of the whole-of-government approach, Dawn reported. It also puts a great emphasis on pursuing economic diplomacy.

(SAM) 

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