Economy and national security are interwoven | By Dr Samreen Bari Aamir


Economy and national security are interwoven

AFTER great excitement, Pakistan’s National Security Policy (NSP) 2022-2026 has finally been released.

It is claimed that this is the first national security card document of Pakistan although this is questionable.

Earlier, we saw that the first internal security policy (NISP) was formulated in 2014 to safeguard the country’s national interests by addressing major security issues and concerns.

NACTA/Ministry of Interior drew up a 20-point National Action Plan (NAP) for combating terrorism and extremism in conjunction with stakeholders, which was approved by Parliament on 24 December 2014.

The National Action Plan designed by the current government outlined the specifics of the country’s counter-terrorism campaign. Pakistan’s National Security Policy, 2022-2026, released by Prime Minister Imran Khan, places geo-economics at the heart of the country’s national security vision.

Khan, speaking at the launch of the paper, stated that a country that does not have a stable economy cannot be termed secure.

“Inclusive growth means not only to uplift the poor people but also the neglected areas… (In such case) every common man becomes a stakeholder to protect the state…The biggest security is when people stand behind the state for its protection,” said the Prime Minister.

We must remember that in today’s global environment, countries use the phrase “geo economy” as an economic weapon to achieve geopolitical goals, relation of international economics, geopolitics, and strategy is known as geo-economics. It is in fact the use of economic instruments to promote and defend national interests, as well as to achieve favourable geopolitical outcomes.

In the post-Cold War era, economics and national security were generally different worlds. However, several nations, including Australia, China, Germany, Japan, Russia, South Korea, the United Kingdom and the United States, have experienced a dramatic convergence in the economic and security components of policy and regulatory concerns in recent years.

In this globalized world, the economy and national security have become increasingly interwoven as a result of globalization and increased economic integration.

As a result of these ties, Pakistan’s national security faces both advantages and challenges. Pakistan’s economy is open and interconnected, rendering it vulnerable to outside threats. As a result, economic security has risen to the top of the priority list.

Different experts have different views on the national security policy that has been formulated but it is an inescapable fact that we can no longer develop our country without advancing the economy. In today’s interconnected and interdependent world we are convinced that the economy plays a pivotal role in moving nations forward.

But in such a geographical region, where the neighbours are the worst enemies of each other to what extent can we rely solely on the economy? And how far can we go with our internal and external security?

But first, we must tackle our security challenges, improving the situation on the eastern border is of utmost importance at this time.

In this regard, it is very important to know-how important economic development is for other countries besides Pakistan. The fact is that the whole security situation has affected the sub-continent. According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, India had the world’s third-largest military budget last year, trailing only the United States and China.

India’s military budget in 2019 was $71 billion. It increased by 259 percent over a 30-year period from 1990 to 2019, and by 37% between 2010 and 2019. Pakistan’s defence budget consumes a significant portion of the country’s total budgetary resources.

Defence Services has been allocated Rs1,370 billion in Budget 2021-22. In terms of US dollars, Pakistan planned an 8.89 billion dollar defence expenditure for 2021-22, compared to India’s budget of nearly 49 billion dollars.

While the two countries have had a troubled history, they share some common problems such as high levels of poverty. 22 per cent of the population or 270 million people live below the poverty line.

Females are more affected than males. The World Bank has estimated that poverty in Pakistan has increased from 4.4 per cent to 5.4 per cent in 2020, as over two million people have fallen below the poverty line. Hunger, unemployment and a lack of education are all prevalent causes of poverty in both countries. It is a fact that we cannot change our neighbours so why can’t we establish good relations with them.

We have not had a hundred years of war and our cultures are not very much different from each other. It is also a fact that we fought the war of independence together. It is also a fact that we defeated the colonial powers together.

So why is it that we ignore so much of what we have in common and mostly emphasize on a few things that are controversial to us? Can’t we give our children a better future? Can’t we tell our children about the struggle and the wars we fought together. It is important to work on conflict resolution so that we can effectively sow the seeds of economic stability.

—The writer is working at DHA Suffa University, Karachi.