Challenges to national security


Dr Muhammad Khan
Unity among the masses and national integration are decisive factors for the
broader national security of any nation state. An analysis of the security of nation states reveals, no external aggression can be successful, if there exists national integration and a strong bondage among the masses of that state. In July 1942, an American press representative asked Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah, “whether the Muslims were a nation or not”. The Quaid said, “We are a nation with our own distinctive culture and civilization, language and literature, art…”
Unfortunately, after independence in 1947, the state of Pakistan faced the crisis of national integration, which severely affected its political stability, social integration and economic prosperity. In the absence of a national unity and national integration, there remained challenges for the national security of the state and the God Gifted country had to face dilemma of 1971. This was a direct outcome of losing national unity and the cohesiveness, conceived and directed by the father of Nation. In fact, the world’s largest Muslim state could not maintain the spirit of freedom from colonial rule and its separate nationhood as envisaged by Quaid-i-Azam, Muhammad Ali Jinnah.
For preserving national security, the elements of national power play a very significant role. Pakistan has been bestowed with a unique geopolitical location in entire Asian Continent, the most significant element of national power. There is no dearth of natural resources in the country, except we have been lethargic in their exploration and exploitation in last 72 years. Besides, Pakistan has world’s top most armed forces equipped with strategic arms with highest standard of war fighting potentials on conventional and unconventional terms. Pakistani armed forces defeated the global terrorist network in last one decade, which even a super power could not do along with its forty-eight allied state.
For preserving national security, unity and cohesiveness among the masses is yet another significant element of national power. National harmony and a compact character of masses deter any foreign aggression which can be a threat for the national security. Indeed, the national security is the ability of any nation to preserve its physical integrity and territorial boundaries. It is a wider concept, for preserving the security of the state on all aspects; political, economic, social and human security, apart from security at borders. Harvard University professor Charles views the national security through lens of national power. He defines the defines the “National security… is best described as a capacity to control those domestic and foreign conditions that the public opinion of a given community believes necessary to enjoy its own self-determination or autonomy, prosperity and wellbeing.” No external aggression can damage Pakistan, if there exists an internal cohesion and unity among the masses. The current dominant discourse on national security in Pakistan is based not only upon regional and international realities but also on the issues of identities, sectarian divide, ill-conceived democracy and issues related to the social transformation of society. The society of Pakistan has to come out from fragmentation along ethnic, sectarian and linguistic lines. The cohesiveness of these entities is crucial to build an integrated nation. An absence of this process on the contrary could invite the external conspiracies to succeed on multiple grounds.
The programme like Azadi March is indeed, a threat to national unity and broader harmony. The question arises, Azadi (freedom) from whom? In the garb of religion or else the political gains, the planned Azadi March is indeed, would exploit the already existing fault-lines, existing the society of Pakistan. Engaging the masses in conflicts and protests for political gains of few is indeed, an agenda of keeping the masses as hostages, backwards and away from the road to progress, education and self-sufficiency. Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah had a vision. As a visionary leader, he believed that the state’s first duty towards the people is to maintain law and order so that the life and property of its masses are protected. A state’s internal peace and stability is the most important ingredient towards nations’ building. A safe and secure country provides a platform to all the state’s institutions to flourish and perform their functions to their optimum capacity. Safety and security shall also attract the domestic and foreign investors to put their money for good return, ultimately befitting the state and its people.
Besides, the technological advancement through education will serve as a catalyst in the recipe of a nation’s building. The investment in education sector provides solution to the causes of a state’s failure as reflected in the ignorance theory of nations’ inequality. Low education breeds poor leadership; ill-informed, illiterate, inefficient, ill-advised and ignorant of the worth of the national wealth – ultimately dragging their country to a dismal situation. Whereas education produces enlightened and informed leaders, advisors, think-tanks and policymakers, capable of taking the country out of crisis.
The element of governance (good governance) is yet another constituent component of making a proud and prosperous nation. A state’s responsibility is much beyond just managing the affairs of the state by virtue of the constitutionally vested authority and maintaining writ of the government. A state’s machinery is required to provide good governance, ensuring the optimum functioning of the state’s institutions especially those linked with provision of public services. Realizing its significance, all progressive nations have adopted the good governance as a key concept and intriguing theory in their development. The agenda driven protests like Azadi March are all about creating the national disharmony while fuelling the socio-political divide, contributing towards vulnerabilities of Pakistan. These vulnerabilities can be exploited by the rival powers to threaten the very security of Pakistan. The political leadership, the states’ elite, policy formulators and think-tanks must debate the challenges with possible way out. There should be an intimate linkage between all institutions of Pakistan; political, economic and security, complementing each other towards a greater national unity and institutional harmony for the security and economic prosperity of Pakistan.
— The writer is Professor of Politics and International Relations at International Islamic University, Islamabad.