Finding solution to Pakistan’s national security challenges


By Aroosha Farzeen

National security ensures peace in the society. The security patterns of any country are important because they secure one’s nationhood and prepare the nation to face internal and external threats and helps in securing national integrity.

Pakistan National security has been a major concern since its creation. Pakistan is facing both internal and external challenges which pose a threat to its sovereignty.  

As far as internal challenges are concerned, they consist of sectarianism, religious extremism, fragile institutions, corrupt leadership, bad governance, weak economy etc. The main challenges to Pakistan’s security are militancy and extremism.

In the context of external threats the main threat to Pakistan is the non-cooperative neighborhood. Moreover, the relations of Pakistan with Afghanistan, India and Iran are creating difficulties for it. Adding icing on the cake is the threat of ‘War on Terror’.

The international pressures on Pakistan started growing after 9/11 and afterwards Pakistan was highlighted as a terrorist nation round the globe. As a consequence of that Pakistan is still facing various kinds of threats; both traditional and non-traditional such as extremism, sectarian violence, political and economic instability, terrorism, and feudalism are the traditional internal threats linked with external factors. These activities are actually externally administered and directed but are veiled under the hue of sectarianism, civil war, militancy and so on.

Actually every small happening is to obscure the big happening. Various security agencies like Black Water, CIA, RAW etc. tried their best to damage and harm the peace of Pakistan. These agencies showcased the incidents as the problem and threat to security rising from ‘within’ but in actual these agencies were controlling such happenings.

Pakistan is blessed to have ideal geo-strategic location with bounteous of hidden resources and sea. Pakistan shold not be made a playground for the big powers. America uses Pakistan and leaves it when her interests end up.

Relationships of India and Pakistan have never been harmonious. India has fought three major fights with Pakistan since 1947 but Kashmir has been a permanent bone of contention among the two, preventing harmony among them.

India has indulged in many ceasefire violations along the LOC with intent to harm our national security. The BJP extremism, visit of Obama to India and their nuclear deal 2015 added to this scenario.

Incidents like APS Peshawar and Bacha Khan University caused severe unrest among the public and posed serious threat to national security.                                                     

Along with FATA, the terrorist activities in Baluchistan and North Waziristan were major threats to Pakistan’s National Security. As per the statement of foreign office these activities were directed by the foreign players who were using our people against our people.

Operation Zarb-e-Azb and Operation Rad-ul-Fassad have played a pivotal role in countering the terrorism. There is a widespread opinion that currently the national security challenges to Pakistan primarily come from “within”.   Therefore, the only solution is not just in protecting borders but the internal situations has also to be tackled carefully and the gaps have to be bridged. National security lies not just in protecting borders, but in bridging divides.

Talking about the 21st century problems for Pakistan, it can be said that there are three emerging security challenges. It will be important how Pakistan see the emergence of pre-emptive use of force in Pakistan’s case. Whether the attack will be coming from the eastern front or the western front? Secondly, internal security problems presented by various groups and their economic dimensions; and lastly, how Pakistan deals with the fault lines i.e. Shia–Sunni problem, narratives based on ethnic lines, economic divide and finally to ensure writ of the state.

Strategies are never static and they always change, and that strategic environment plays an important role in shaping a suitable strategy. Pakistan has been facing military threats since its creation. Unfortunately, these threats have multiplied with the passage of time. The government could improve the situation on Pakistan’s eastern and western borders, but the worst case scenario cannot be ignored. For Pakistan, the biggest threat is India. Afghanistan presents Pakistan with another serious security challenge. Threat emanating from transnational terror organization’s is the third major security challenge for Pakistan. Citing the Salala incident and Abbottabad operation, we can term the military threat from non-regional powers as the fourth major threat for Pakistan. And finally, Pakistan’s relations with Iran need immediate attention.

The traditional paradigm of security studies that is premised on external military threats is not capable of fully explaining the national security problems of post-colonial third world states like Pakistan. The discourse on security in Pakistan has to come out of the traditional mindset. Security studies cannot be confined to military threats only, and that internal security has to be brought under focus. The narrow view of security has come under attack following the fall of communism and disintegration of the Soviet Union. Collapse of Soviet security structure proved that military power is important but not sufficient to maintain a legitimate security system. Economic and political measures and a responsive state apparatus with roots in civil society and satisfaction of societal demands are equally important. Problems the Pakistan faces like sectarianism, ethnic militancy or the situation in Karachi requires urgent attention.

Changes around the world have taken place at a very fast pace. Concepts like nation state and national sovereignty have eroded. Economic gravity is shifting to Asia. The rise of China is another very important development. The Indian aspirations for global power and turmoil in the Arab world are the events that Pakistan cannot take its eyes off. In the region, Pakistan enjoys good relations with China but has serious problems with India and Afghanistan, and that the uncertain situation in Afghanistan is a source of concern for Pakistan. Pakistan also has a problem of improving its image globally.

However, all these challenges can be converted into opportunities. There is a global consensus that there should be peace in this region. Pakistan’s geostrategic location is also an asset which can be used to boost trade and cooperation in energy sector throughout the region. Pakistan’s foreign policy objectives should include desire to improve relations with India but not at the cost of its national interests. A better environment in South Asia can ensure SAARC realizing its full potential.

Pakistan also needs to reset its relations with the US. Regarding misperceptions in the US about the safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons Pakistan has already convinced the US that its nuclear weapons are safe and beyond the reach of non-state actors.

In order to find solutions to all the problems, Pakistan will have to put its own house in order. If Pakistan can deal with its internal problems, then external challenges will not be so hard to handle.

Pakistan is also facing problems due to lack of proper arrangements on Pak-Afghan border. A better management is very important and requires regulated movement of people.

Pakistan as energy starved country was very interested in Pak-Iran gas pipeline project. However, due to sanctions imposed on Iran by the US, Pakistan is finding it difficult to arrange finances. If the sanctions are removed both the countries can go ahead with this project.

Pakistan has serious concerns regarding the emerging situation in Afghanistan. Pakistan has a policy of “non-interference” in Afghanistan. Pakistan hopes that once Afghans are left to decide their own fate, they will come up with some kind of consensus. It is Pakistan’s desire that Afghanistan remains united and peaceful.