By Qurat-Ul-Ain Shabbir
The recent floods in Pakistan have exposed its preparedness to deal with natural disasters of this magnitude. Since June this year, nearly 2,000 people have been killed in the floods. Even after the declaration of a national emergency, relief efforts were not enough to bring the lives of those affected back to normal. The damage caused by these floods was estimated at 30 billion dollars. Some analysts even call these figures an underestimate. The government has declared 72 of the 160 districts to be disaster areas. He put the number of people affected at 33 million. Unprecedented monsoon rains and melting glaciers point to the worst kind of climate change the country will face in the future.
On the Human Security Index, Pakistan is ranked 144th. According to the World Bank report, the poverty rate in Pakistan could increase by 3.7-4% due to the floods. These figures paint a grim picture of the human security situation in Pakistan. At this point, Pakistan needs a thorough analysis of how to maintain a balance between traditional and non-traditional security paradigms.
Contrary to a general misconception, human security does not replace state security, but reinforces it. Human security complements state security by ensuring the security of the individual. In addition to ensuring the survival of the state, ensuring the security of the subjects of the state remains the primary responsibility of state crafts. State security cannot be ensured if the security of people is threatened. The traditional definition of “security” emphasizes the coercive capabilities of the state. Such an understanding of the term security did not incorporate the internal determinants of security such as ethnic or religious polarization, economic and social grievances, political instability, environmental degradation and low human development index, etc. . With the evolution of human civilization and the emergence of contemporary security frameworks, various strategists have emphasized the importance and relevance of comprehensive security with modern security frameworks. Consequently, security policy makers seem to recognize the urgency of including non-traditional security threats in relevant doctrines. For the same purpose, the security agenda has been updated and the citizen-centric “comprehensive national security” framework has been included in the Pakistan National Security Policy for 2021-2023.
This refreshing change reflects the realization that human security impacts the social contract between the state and its people. When there is human insecurity, it creates resentment against the state; therefore, they can become easy prey for hybrid warfare. This creates instability and other countries can easily militarize this instability.
Strengthening human security has become crucial for national security. In the book “The Weaponization of Everything A Field Guide to New of War”, author Mark Galeotti argued that everything related to global security is now part of warfare.
Pakistan is a country that has always faced the conundrum of the balance between the security of the state of Pakistan and its citizens. Civilian and military leaders have so far failed to establish a unanimous national security policy that can deal with both internal and external threats. In developing the security strategy, policy makers have always underestimated the potential benefits of human and economic development, not only for its citizens, but also for Pakistan’s strictly militarily defined security strategy. . This lack of consideration for human and economic development has relegated these areas of great importance to the second rank of state security.
The factors that led Pakistan to prioritize national security date back to when Pakistan appeared on the world map as a separate homeland for Muslims in the subcontinent. The basis of its existence was the preservation of the economic and religious rights of Muslims in the subcontinent. But Pakistan has become a prisoner of its geographical location. This geostrategic importance was exploited by the capitalist United States against the rapacious waves of the communist USSR. The naïveté of the Pakistani leader can be analyzed through the fact that instead of converting their geostrategic importance into value-added economic and human development, they sought short-term solutions and immediate relief.
Statistical evidence shows that economic destabilization would make Pakistan insecure. This argument could be supported by the fact that if the economy grows by 3.0% to 3.57% while the population of a country increases by more than 2%, it will be extremely difficult for a state to create security economy which is an important determinant of national security. Such situations have the potential to trigger social polarization and a perception of deprivation among the common man, which ultimately negatively affects national security.
Due to national calamities, economic deficit, poor governance and poor financial management, Pakistani governments have no choice but to seek financial assistance from the IMF. The rescue packages offered by this monetary organization also pose serious challenges to our political and economic sovereignty.
A country that operates on loan or aid usually has a weak or ad hoc foreign policy. Thus, he exercises the security strategy in a weak position. Currently, Pakistan needs to focus on human and economic development through sound macroeconomic policies, structural reforms, investment in education, health and infrastructure. Then only Pakistan will be able to emerge from the current economic crisis.
Gone are the days of waging war conventionally. A vital part of hybrid warfare, which includes both conventional and irregular warfare, is economic sabotage. The acquisition of modern technologies and the exploration of financial markets have become as important as the acquisition of military superiority. Human and economic development must be a priority and must be treated as a vital pillar of national security. A booming economy can guarantee national security while a weak and bankrupt economy is a threat to security strategy and counterproductive to military superiority. This argument can be validated by considering for example that during the Cold War, the USSR had a massive military buildup but disintegrated due to economic collapse. The same could be said of Pakistan, unless the economy is not strengthened, Pakistan will face enormous problems trying to maintain itself as a safe state.
Qurat-Ul-Ain Shabbir is a research fellow at the Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS) AJK. Currently, she is pursuing her PhD in DSS at Quaid-i-Azam University (QAU), Islamabad. His areas of interest include contemporary security and security and conflict analysis.
The views and opinions expressed in this article/opinion/commentary are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the DND Think Tank and Dispatch News Bureau (DND). Assumptions made in the analysis do not reflect the position of the DND Think Tank and the Dispatch News Desk.