Concept of national security Part I- Ikram Sehgal

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In his Politics among Nations, Hans Morgenthau defined national security as “the integrity of the national territory and its institutions.” Till recently, national security meant a state’s freedom from another state. This definition envisages national security problems arising with countries that are close and/or powerful enough for their actions to threaten the security of the given state.

Globalisation has made national borders irrelevant and brought about radical changes in the concept of national security. Traditionally the military has been at the heart of security policy; now national security must be evaluated more in terms of human, economic and cultural terms than in the securing of territorial space by the military.

National security involves protecting the nation’s infrastructure, the potency of its foreign policy and economy, the civil rights of its citizens, trade and work availability and the essentials of national sovereignty. National Security envisages the interrelationship of these facts with terrorism, globalisation, poverty and human trafficking and/or illegal immigration. Three factors in the 21st century predominate national security: the economy, the demographic movement of people and the threats and attacks by extremists.

National security is divided into state security and societal security, the former based on territorial security, the latter centred on identity. Weakening of territorial security, due to the influences of globalisation, has left identities far more exposed and threatened. Being a declared ally of the US in the war against terror, Pakistan has been exposed to several outside influences, which include economic, social, cultural, political and military factors.

Our rulers have ignored societal security. Whenever religious, sectarian, political, ethnic or cultural identities of people are threatened by the state, people react by fighting back. The loss of East Pakistan in 1971 is a glaring example. To an extent this also holds true in Balochistan, while the situation in Waziristan is more ideological, with people fighting for their rights to protect their identities and socio-economic and political rights.

Components of national security include: (1) domestic and foreign interest, goals and objectives vital to Pakistan’s national security; (2) foreign policy commitments and the defence entity necessary to deter aggression and to implement the country’s security objectives by political, economic, military and other elements of national power; and (3) the potential and capability to carry out the national security strategy and support its implementation.

National Security goals require (1) consensus through the freely declared will of the units of the federation (2) allocation of resources in a way that creates instruments to provide for the state’s defence and furtherance of its goals; (3) long-range planning in a substantive and systematic manner, with the participation of elected representatives providing the political dynamics; (4) strategy formulation encompass crises management as well as near-term policy planning and implementation activity; (5) development of a common vision and purpose for the near-term future; (6) comprehensive effort for the making of a coherent economic policy: too often we depend upon crisis management rather than long-term strategy formulation; (7) a coherent strategy to deal with transnational issues such as terrorism, narcotics trafficking, money-laundering and environmental security; and (8) end to the tendency of exclusive reliance on institutions and processes, because it is really people who define the character of institutions and make the processes what they are.

The following main objectives relate to both internal and external security: (1) enhancement of our security; (2) promotion of prosperity at home; and (3) promotion of democracy.

The main objectives can be further broken up as follows: (1) maintenance of the integrity and security of Pakistan; (2) securing the safety of its strategic assets; (3) rehabilitation of the economy and restoring investor confidence; (4) dealing firmly with militancy and religious extremism; (5) avoidance of any damage to the Kashmir cause; (6) strengthening of the federation, removal of inter-provincial disharmony and restoration of national cohesion; (7) ensuring of law and order and dispensing of speedy justice; (8) de-politicising of state institutions; (9) devolution of power to the grassroots level; (10) ensuring swift and across-the- board accountability; (11) declaring a war against drugs and illegal immigration; (12) taking pragmatic steps to eradicate/minimise poverty; (13) eradicate corruption by carrying out fair and comprehensive accountability; (14) curtail the proliferation of weapons; (15) creating a national Identity competing with the ethnic ones.

We must improve the quality of our middle and higher echelons of leadership to provide dividends. While large segments of our society will remain poor, deprived and marginally trained, the talented and the selected few must get access to quality education. It is around this core that we must build a modern state. The South Indian software miracle was not an isolated phenomenon, but part of the Indian thrust to create a class of excellence.

We have already seen states more powerful than Pakistan crumble under the weight of declining economics, alienation of people and soaring military expenditure. Security policy must be developed that is guided by national needs based on socio-economic justice and adherence to rule of law. Otherwise, not only will our national security be in jeopardy but the country’s very survival will be at stake.

The writer is a defence and political analyst. Email:


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