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March 4, 2021

Economic security

March 4, 2021

The security of the state has been of utmost importance in the annals of history and has in fact gained momentum with time.

There has been transformation in the dynamics of state security. Kingship was once thriving over conventional military might and territorial occupation was the hallmark of security. With time, the concept of security of the state changed from conventional manpower-based military might to knowledge-based progress in the field of war arsenal to ensure security of the state.

After the disintegration of the former Soviet Union (USSR), the war arsenals strategy has substantially changed and now first comes economic security to support the military strategy ensuring security of the state.

Economic security has prime importance in the national security paradigm; we see that all the most important developed countries right from the United States of America to European countries and now an emerging new power of China – all have strong economies safeguarding their national security interests. It is now a proven fact that the economic security paradigm has become almost synonymous to national security in the world.

The economic security paradigm revolves around a strong inclusive political system, a strong economy with robust industrial infrastructure, technology driven advancements with a strong institutional setup and an equitable judicious system ensuring delivery of services to the people at their doorstep. In fact, the political system is the engine of all the systems, followed by the economic system. Education should be rightly prioritised along with scientific and technological innovations, which are key to progress ensuring national security. But the billion-dollar question is: how does one achieve these goal posts and milestones?

Developing countries like Pakistan need more economic security to avoid existential threats. Vast populations, with the majority of them illiterate, are in fact a big threat to its security. All we need is to devise a strategy to address this issue first, as resources are limited to cope with the situation to feed such a huge crowd going nowhere. There is an immediate and crucial need to address this population issue. Unfortunately, no government is serious about this problem. If other Muslim countries could successfully arrest high birth rates, then why can’t Pakistan adopt a serious family planning strategy in place?

Pakistan is also facing governance issues, as exclusivity has become the order of the day. It is poisonous for the social fabric of any society. The concept of selective rule of law has marred society, discouraging investors from coming into the country. There is a serious need to address this issue of selective use of institutions, which in fact shows bad governance. There is a need for confidence building in and amongst investors so as to invest in Pakistan.

Second, an inclusive economic growth model is needed with export-led growth supported by a large industrial infrastructure to ensure security of the modern state. The best strategy would be to create special economic zones and industrial clusters on the pattern of China to enhance exports.

An inclusive economic growth model is urgently required, for which there is a need of long-term visionary policy initiatives to support this idea of export-led growth. A large population in the shape of labour and manpower can be accommodated in such industrial clusters. All sorts of administrative issues and unrest emanating from the thousands jobless and threatening the peaceful atmosphere of the country could be addressed through this approach.

Third, there is a need to ensure economic recovery through a better strategy of producing skilled manpower by imparting vocational and technical training via improved institutional reforms initiatives. The human resource exports of raw labour cannot ensure long-term robust earnings and foreign remittances. A large youth bulge can only be a useful resource for Pakistan if the youth are skilful and technically trained to earn more, thereby ensuring the livelihood and security of their families.

Fourth, there is an imminent threat of the debt burden crossing all limits and disturbing all sorts of economic initiatives. The government needs to focus on this highly disturbing factor and try and stabilise the economic progress in the coming days and months. The debt-to-GDP ratio has crossed all limits, which is a clear violation of the Debt and Fiscal Responsibility Act passed by parliament.

To put it in a nutshell, the security of the state can only be ensured through economic security and economic progress in the country. And that can only be done by taking initiatives addressing issues highlighted in the lines above. The rest lies with the policymakers and the government of Pakistan.

The writer is an economist.