National Security Supreme | By Rizwan Ghani


National Security Supreme

RABBANI’S Senate speech was spot on to remind the world that Pakistan’s national security is supreme. There will be no compromise on it. He pointed out that delay in IMF deal at the staff level as unprecedented and warned of greater world agenda behind it which is not in accordance with Pakistan’s national security needs or priorities. It is being used to pressurize Pakistan on its strategic relations with China. The strong reply of the Foreign Office to the US Afghan envoy for unsolicited advice is clear.

In the new world order, Pakistan cannot be pushed for military bases in the region. Based on the country’s past security alliances, public is strictly against them. Pakistan was an emerging democracy, moderate state and dynamic economy before the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan. The history of its Western alliances is very painful because it took away country’s future. After the adverse fallouts of second Pak-West alliance, there can be no third time.

Deal or no deal, Pakistan will survive. With developments in the region, there is going to be a way out on economy, exchange rate and repegging to gold. The Cost of Living Crisis in the West shows failure of 1980s economic reforms replacing Bretton Woods agreement which even the West cannot address. The economic experts are already looking at post-IMF deal options to address the challenges of food, shelter and jobs. EU and America used $1.4T state subsidies in 2022 to save their economies from the ongoing crisis.

US Afghan envoy claims on Indian economy are misleading. In fact, the country is being recolonized. It has lost 1.2M jobs in Air India deal with 800M Indians on ration card. Like EU, its defence is being outsourced and foreign controlled. The development of NE India (seven states) with $47bn foreign funding will be reviewed by India’s opposition parties for protecting country’s strategic interests with China including trade, water and defence. In 2022, India suffered cumulative loss of $1T. It includes $70bn forex reserve, $108bn Adani Scam, $164bn bad bank loan write off, $100bn in FDI in 2nd quarter. 70,000 IT Indian workers were deported. Economy is creating 4.3M jobs annually against 20M required (BBC).

Budget 2022:  India’s job crisis leading to a ‘nowhere generation’ (3 Feb 2022 BBC). 8.5% unemployment rate (21 Feb 2023 Statista). Manufacturing is at 18% of GDP (required 25%). India’s democracy is under attack. Congress MP Rahul Gandhi said the institutional framework required for democracy is becoming constrained and the basic structure of Indian democracy is under attack. He said it is an internal problem and its solution will also come from within. Democracy is under threat in the West also. PM prorogued parliament which UK Supreme Court ruled as unlawful. It was followed by Jan 6 attack on democracy.

On foreign policy, India is following country first policy. It is balancing its relations with east and the West. Its External Affairs Minister says that voters are first priority for the government. I foretold India first policy in Trump’s Afghan Legacy. Pakistan should refuse US counterterrorism cooperation which Latin America also rejected as a ploy like WMD. I wrote Biden’s Pakistan Visit for Pak-US broad based cooperation except security. The US U-turn shows it was a mistake that Biden did not visit Pakistan.

There is lot of scope in Pakistan-US relations on equal terms. Pakistan needs transfer of common technology to deal with daily life with building of securities of water, food and energy. It includes manufacturing (SME), industrialization including steel, energy, other critical infrastructure for urban and rural development. Pakistan needs $200bn in state subsidies just like 2022 EU €672bn to Germany, France and Italy and $370bn by Biden to America.

Xi is right to have friendly relations with everyone. China and Australia are working together despite  Aukus. India is also engaging with China. Similarly, there is enough space to coexist for Pakistan, China, America and India while protecting their national interests. Pakistan helped China and America come together which benefitted both countries and their people in terms of affordable goods and moving their economies to next levels. Now all countries need to work together for their economies.

Europe is also following country first policies with America. To balance its global relations including China, Germany adopted defiant ‘lockstep’ policy with US on fighter jets. Finland has also withdrawn from its stand. Trump said as president he will stop Ukraine war in first 24 hours. Florida governor said that US support for Ukraine in war not a “vital” national interest (14 Mar 2022 CBS News). Republicans are showing that there is no support for another forever war in America.

Finally, public wants rule of law in the country. They want strong democracy, democratic institutions and a system of check and balance with independent judiciary and media. Majority of population is young, progressive and friendly. It is failure of country’s leadership that Pakistan is facing economic, political and foreign policy challenges. Rabbani is right that parliament is the best forum to address all such challenges including national security without any further delay.