Wednesday September 27, 2023

NSP: a recipe for success

January 20, 2022

Despite its long journey, the National Security Policy (NSP) is nevertheless an admirable accomplishment. Seventy-four years of efforts led to the realisation that, while external threats remain a priority, national cohesion and the prosperity of our people are the cornerstones. And these can only be achieved by promoting ‘delivery-based good governance’.

The NSP is a welcome acknowledgement, finally, that only stronger institutions and a strong rule of law – across the board – will ensure economic growth and human security within both the traditional and non-traditional arenas.

Listening to the people and relevant stakeholders who are directly affected by the scheme leads to a successful policy. There can be no doubt that its success will be based on achieving practical outcomes and attaining objectives. With a fisheye view of the NSP, it becomes apparent that it is realistic, attainable, flexible, inclusive, and enforceable. It is a sufficient enough document since it encompasses obligatory sections on national cohesion, economy, defence, internal security, foreign policy, and human security.

Learning from past policies, we must remember that many of these earlier policies did not produce the desired results, primarily because of a lack of will, incompetence, corruption, a lack of resources, and poor governance. In contrast, when we look around the world, policies have been successful whenever people were engaged and a sincere effort was put in, funds were provided, stakeholder capacities were improved, and goodwill prevailed.

Since I am an optimist, I tend to interpret the NSP as agreeing to ‘no longer live in self-denial mode’. This includes advocating for ‘good governance’, ‘desire for welfare state’, ‘prosperity through economic-human security’, ‘setting the house in order’, ‘peace with itself and others’ and ‘rule of law’.

Further, it seems the NSP asserts that ‘right is might’, ‘protection of human rights for all’, ‘doing away with ad-hoc and worldly expedient actions’, ‘equity and inclusiveness’, ‘operational autonomy for organisations with firm accountability’, ‘no extraneous interference in working’, and ‘each organisation to play to its designated role’, and letting services be delivered professionally as the hallmark.

Having extensive experience with internal security and UN peacekeeping missions, I believe that the success of the policy lies in its implementation in letter and spirit and in focusing on the ‘HOW’ as well as the timelines.

For the NSP to be implemented and sustained, we need to begin seeking maximum support and mileage right from the start. A narrative that explains the importance, utility, and need of such documents should be widely disseminated. Clarity is critical to demystify any ambiguity or contradictions. Translations of the document into regional and local languages would also help improve comprehension and ownership.

For a wider and better understanding, the unclassified parts should be used in training institutes, colleges/universities, and academies, and discussions and seminars. Having everyone on board will ensure that everyone’s contribution is valued.

As per the spirit of the document, if an action plan or standard operating procedure is already in place and commensurate, it should be continued; if not, then a new one should be developed. Organisations and entities involved must synchronise their implementation methodology and, if required, shift the paradigm. Documents on compliance, with monitoring of inadvertent actions, and periodic reviews need to be conducted. Organisations / entities must be built up to ensure effective implementation.

Provision of desired resources is a prerequisite for the implementation of the policy. Hence it should be ensured that all implementing organisations are adequately resourced to meet the objectives. There is a need to examine the root causes of the stumbling blocks to the successful implementation of the policy as well as those to be addressed at the grassroots level.

It should be acknowledged that ownership and seriousness are important; reward and appreciation should follow success and the policy should be perpetuated; and any dropouts should be held accountable.

While I generally leave more insightful contributions to the NSP chapters to other pundits, I believe the police – as far as internal security is concerned – have the capacity and capability to implement the policy, like they successfully did when it came to the National Internal Security Policy and the National Action Plan.

Pakistan’s armed forces have accomplished wonders in fighting terrorism during Operations Zarb-e-Azb and Radd-ul-Fasaad and bringing order to the nation’s most challenging regions. However, a police force with improved performance will save the armed forces from being overstretched.

In the interests of all professionals, it is not far-fetched to decode again that the NSP refers to some form of operational autonomy and independence for the police, with stringent accountability, besides removing extraneous interference – as already ordained by the superior courts of Pakistan – for the sake of the democratic aspirations of the people and human security.

Preparing a document of this nature is not an easy task. Nevertheless, one should appreciate the contribution of the national security adviser (NSA) in unifying the conventional and non-conventional aspects of national security.

The real test now will be to implement the policy and make this vision a reality. I believe that, if executed with precision, transparency, and consistency, the NSP document will greatly contribute to the economic and human security of our nation. The document is a solution to many problems – let us welcome it.

The writer is federal secretary, Ministry of Narcotics Control. He tweets @KaleemImam and can be reached at:

Facebook: @syedkaleemimam