The National Security Policy 2.0

January 9, 2022

After a nod from the federal cabinet, Pakistan has introduced its first formal national security policy meant to tackle the traditional as well as emerging threats to the country

The National Security Policy 2.0

The concept of national security has evolved into a complex subject over the years but it remains of core interest to the security and stability of a country. Aligned with a country’s interest, national security not only determines the strategic placement but also the capability of a state in world affairs.

Pakistan is a country in need of clear policies to pursue. It first felt the need to draft a security policy when it struggled with the menace of terrorism. The threat was backed by hostile foreign agencies and aided by local groups that wanted to weaken the foundations of Pakistan. The document became an important part of the policies designed to obstruct the spread of terrorism in the long run. As the country curtailed terrorism, other issues called for a more comprehensive plan that has now emerged as the national security policy. After a nod from the federal cabinet, Pakistan has introduced the first formal national security policy meant to tackle the traditional as well as emerging threats to the country. The document is yet to be made public but the national security advisor has tweeted a possible course the country will take.

The national security policy has shown that Pakistan’s approach to various matters is far from what it is perceived to be by the international community, in particular its neighbours. Those studying national security in the past were critical of the security policy and deemed it India-centric. While Pakistan’s concerns about India and the Kashmir issue remain a concern, the new National Security Policy is all about fixing, sustaining and safeguarding the country internally. The country’s shift from geopolitics to geo-economics was evident given its foreign engagements. Since coming to power the PTI-led government has been working on building new economic alliances that it believes come with an equal give and take. The new policy also takes into consideration non-traditional threats and challenges such as human security, national cohesion and governance.

There are reasons why Pakistan needed such a national security policy all along. The document ensures that all threats and challenges faced by the country are addressed via comprehensive long-term strategies. It calls for a domestic consensus to guide the implementation of those strategies. It seeks to improve the effectiveness of all the institutions involved by optimising their functions including that of security. The NSP also lays down ways to seek international cooperation and proposes confidence-building measures to be taken by the state vis a vis other countries. The NSP framework also provides for a policy watchdog to assess evolving threats and challenges.

The reasons stated before, however, do not undermine Pakistan’s need for a traditional security approach. This aspect of the document is unlikely to be included in the version made public. Extremism and terrorism are still real threats. The arms race in the region and procurement of the latest weapons can hardly be ruled out. The situation in Afghanistan continues to pose an external challenge for Pakistan and despite Pakistan’s best intentions, the situation has not settled.

Another aspect that should be considered in the new national security policy is the role of non-state actors in national security. Media is considered an important player in today’s security setup. The relationship between the media and security institutions does not seem necessary or evident. Nevertheless, the media and security sector are mutually dependent and must cooperate to counter disinformation threats. Media reforms should be incorporated in the new national security framework.

Not much can be added to the discussion of the national security policy until it is made public.

The writer is an independent media and foreign policy analyst. She tweets @MsAishaK

The National Security Policy 2.0