Regional connectivity under NSP
A year ago on January 14, 2022, the unveiling of Pakistan’s National Security Policy NSP2022-2026 by former Prime Minister of Pakistan Imran Khan brought a paradigm shift in the strategic autonomy of Pakistan shifting its foreign policy from geo-politics to geo-economics.
NSP accentuates citizen well-being, bolstering the economy,promoting regional connectivity, ensuring economic security and prosperity of the people.
The NSP recognizes non-traditional threats such as climate change, and Covid-19, consequently, focuses on both traditional and non-traditional security aspects giving credential to the economic security at the core of national security.
The documents maintain that Islamabad desires regional peace and improving relationships with India.
South Asia, unfortunately, is the least economically integrated region of the world having only 5 per cent intraregional trade.
Even Sub-Saharan Africa economically is more integrated than South Asia. The document appreciates the geostrategic location of Pakistan in the past as well as in the contemporary great power competition.
But the geostrategic location of the country has merely remained a cliché in the past that ought to be converted to reality by obtaining geo-economic dividends.
Islamabad under NSP intends to have peace with New Delhi and expects reciprocity from the latter as far as peaceful coexistence and regional connectivity in the region are concerned.
Eschewing obsession with traditional security by both India and Pakistan presumably will herald a path to regional connectivity and prosperity.
India will benefit unprecedentedly from NSP, which is the second-largest consumer of energy.
It requires land access to the Middle East and Central Asia regions which is only feasible through Pakistan.
Pakistan with a total export of $ 31 billion dollars and import of $ 80 billion dollars in 2022 cannot survive in the contemporary world and soon will have to augment its economic growth by diversifying its economy and promoting regional connectivity.
The World Bank report in 2018 stated that India and Pakistan had the potential of enhancingbilateral trade from$2 billion to $ 37 billion.
Stephen Cohen argues that the conflict between India and Pakistan is among the five conflicts in the world that are unlikely to be resolved.
Arguably, NSP appears to be a turning point in ending the enduring rivalry impelling Islamabad and New Delhi to go for regional connectivity.
The NSP defines CPEC as the epitome of regional connectivity.
Turkmenistan–Afghanistan–Pakistan–India Pipeline TAPI and CPEC are the bona fide determiner of the NSP on regional relationships.
Getting into introspection and pondering over the factuality of Kartarpur Corridor under NSP,making it also a two-way corridor for economic activities and regional connectivity will alter the fortune of people.
Iran an immediate neighbour of Pakistan and a crucial player in the region be included in regional connectivity under NSP.
The strategic deal inked in 2021 between China-Iran encompassing $400b will, ostensibly,change the complexion of regional politics.
China’s $ 280b in Iran’s energy sector in the strategic deal desperately requires Pakistan’s route.
Islamabad under NSP in the foreseeable future can get Iran’s energy at a concessional rate becoming a hub of regional connectivity.
Extending CPEC to Afghanistan for regional prosperity a country having nearly$ 3 trillion dollars in natural resources could be capitalized under CPEC once it is extended.
Climate diplomacy under NSP be rationalized with an effort to reduce the trust deficit and stimulation of regional connectivity among the regional countries.
India, Pakistan and Bangladesh are the world’s 5th 8th and 10th most vulnerable counties to climate change respectively.
Pakistan was badly affected by the foods of 2022 endured$33 billion dollars losses and nearly 33 million were affected by the floods.
Mckinsey’s report by stating the devastating effects of climate change on India’s economy maintains that “heatwaves translate into a projected 2.5 per cent to 4.5 per cent, or $150 billion to $250bn, the risk to the country’s gross domestic product”.
Under NSP Pakistan should promote clean energy there could be regional cooperation in this regard to consolidate trading agreements and transmission infrastructure.
New Delhi after Lahore is the 2nd most polluted city in the world. Air pollution is offering promising ground for both to cooperate.
South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation SAARC so far has remained unsuccessful in addressing the regional issues.
It can be stimulated in NSP in the collaboration with regional countries to promote regional connectivity.
NSP after a year has not yielded fruitful results witnessing multiple shortcomings. Pakistan will have to end political instability, amazingly, so far among the 18 prime misters of the country none of the prime ministers has completed tenure.
After the Taliban takeover of Afghanistan, Pakistan has been experiencing a new wave of terrorism and extremism jeopardizing NSP in the context of Foreign Direct Investment regional connectivity and prosperity.
Improving teetering economy, political stability, eliminating terrorism, expediting CPEC projects are key components for the success of NSP.
—The writer is contributing columnist, based in Islamabad.