Pakistan’s National Security Policy

  • IASbaba
  • January 25, 2022
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(Sansad TV: Perspective)

Jan 22: Pakistan’s National Security Policy – https://youtu.be/DuSZ9Xvbqes 


  • GS-2: India and its neighbourhood

Pakistan’s National Security Policy

Context: Pakistan’s Prime Minister Imran Khan recently launched his country’s National Security Policy. 

  • Prepared after seven years of consultations, it is being flaunted as the first policy document with guidelines for achieving national security goals. 
  • Stipulates, inter alia, economic security as the core of national security, an expansion of the economic pie, supplementing geostrategy with geoeconomics, making Pakistan a trade and connectivity hub, curbing extremism and terrorism, and inculcating a culture of introspection and pragmatism in defining national security interests.

Pakistan’s Economic Security takes centre stage

The primary push behind putting out the document seems to be the economic crisis faced by Pakistan, which experts attribute to poor fiscal management. 

  • Foreign investors have also been staying away because Islamabad has not been tough on militants. The policy document, though, claims the government has a zero-tolerance policy for groups involved in terrorist activities.
  • Since 1950 Pakistan has been bailed out by the IMF 22 times including in November 2021, that time to the tune of a US$6 billion loan. 
  • In December the World Bank also loaned the country US$195 million to improve its electricity distribution.

The National Security Policy 

The National Security Policy document is an effort to codify the Bajwa Doctrine into an actionable statement of purpose and a strategy for its realisation. 

  • Defence and territorial integrity: Special attention is required to manage lingering border disputes which continue to pose security threats, particularly along the Line of Control and Working Boundary where ceasefire violations by India threaten civilian lives and property while endangering regional stability.
  • Strategic stability: Nuclear deterrence has a “critical role” in South Asia’s security calculations. Pakistan’s nuclear capability deters war through full spectrum deterrence within the precincts of credible minimum nuclear deterrence in concert with our conventional military capabilities and all elements of national power. 
  • Internal Security: Extremism and radicalisation based on ethnicity or religion challenges society. It asserted that “swift and uncompromising” action would be taken against those producing and disseminating hate speech and material.
  • On China and Pakistan, the document talks about deep-rooted historical ties, shared interests, mutual understanding and strategic convergence. The mega infrastructure project ‘China-Pakistan Economic Corridor’ is described as one with support across Pakistan and one that can jump-start Pakistan’s economy and domestic growth.
  • Regarding the US, there seems to be an attempt to ignore the current strain in bilateral ties. Although the Pakistani Prime Minister has not received a call from US President Joe Biden since he assumed office, the document talks about the long history of bilateral cooperation between the two sides. It also describes the US as “critical” for regional peace and stability and glosses over its current tussle with China. The document acknowledges that cooperation between the US and Pakistan has narrowed down to counterterrorism only, and hoped other areas can also be worked on together soon.

The Policy on Relations with India

  • J&K: On relations with India, the document stated that Pakistan wants to improve relationship with India but adds that a just and peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute remains at the core of the bilateral relationship.
  • Dilution of Article 370 of the Indian constitution related to the autonomous status of the erstwhile state of Jammu and Kashmir. India’s pursuit of unilateral policy actions on outstanding issues are attempts to impose one-sided solutions that can have far reaching negative consequences for regional stability.
  • On Indian army and activities: Pakistan is concerned by “growing Indian arms build-up, facilitated by access to advanced technologies and exceptions in the non-proliferation rules”. 
  • It is a reference to the 2008 exemption granted to India by the Nuclear Suppliers Group as a result of the India-US nuclear deal, which has been consistently criticised by Pakistan. Besides impacting regional stability, such policies of exceptionalism also undermine the global non-proliferation regime.
  • Pakistan’s deterrence regime is “aimed at regional peace”. The expansion of India’s nuclear triad, open-ended statements on nuclear policy, and investments in and introduction of destabilising technologies disturb the strategic balance in the region.
  • Internal Indian politics: Pakistan’s immediate security is impacted by the rise of Hindutva-driven politics in India. The political exploitation of a policy of belligerence towards Pakistan by India’s leadership has led to the threat of military adventurism and non-contact warfare to our immediate east.
  • Trade ties: There is no reference to trade ties with India. The only place where India was mentioned in proximity to economic issues was about Pakistan’s location and connectivity. Pakistan had never understood that for India, trade relationship was more of a “confidence-building measure” rather than a necessity to tap into a market.

The Way Forward

One of the most dangerous moments for a regime is when it wants to change course. When there is a significant alteration of internal or external circumstances, change becomes an urgent necessity. But in seeking major change, the sovereign takes considerable political risks. But not changing carries even bigger risks. That is the kind of moment that the Pakistani state finds itself in today. 

  • However, the present document comes across as more of a part academic and part bureaucratic exercise – almost like the output of a think tank. There does not seem to have been any political input into it, which is an obvious and major weakness. 
  • Though, there’s also the fact that it did not centre Pakistan’s “national security around India alone and takes a wider view of national security including in it non-traditional elements”.
  • But there is an inherent dichotomy in Pakistan’s strategy of pursuing a geoeconomic strategy to encourage regional trade, particularly with India, while also pushing an adversarial relation with India, which is regarded as its main source of threat.

Pakistan needs to resolve this dichotomy “before expecting trade and economic cooperation in the region to take-off”. Unless and until all institutions in Pakistan work together to define the statecraft in liberal terms and the secular elite stops forging unholy alliances with Islamists who keep on fostering an image of India as an “eternal enemy”, a change seems unlikely. India should definitely watch, and be prepared to react accordingly.

Can you answer the following questions?

  1. Does Pakistan’s national security policy signal a rethink on India? Discuss.
  2. Pakistan geo-economic transition can’t succeed without shift in its India policy. Comment

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