Dilemma of a security state

The inherent fear of insecurity results into a channelised vision which forces it to pick its enemies in the darkness

Faisal Ali Raja May 01, 2021

A security state is the product of historical friction and a series of unexpected results leading to its emergence on the global stage. The inherent fear of insecurity results into a channelised vision which forces it to pick its enemies in the darkness. The securitisation of every aspect of its national polity produces unnecessary hindrance to its economic, political and social development. The security apparatus becomes prominent overshadowing every section of society. Even non-physical space is saturated with conspiracy theories which project a threatening future for the state. A semblance of known or unknown threat is the only driving force which defines tasks execution and their implementation. The media also highlights security-based issues which overshadow news related to social and cultural activities. The available literature is heavily loaded with security matters making it essential for young minds to grasp the sensitivity of security at an early age. This holds their thinking perpetually hostage to the state’s security in terms of its importance and preference.

A security state uses security as a rallying point to unite different organs of the state. Such a method may present multiple challenges for civilian institutions as they grapple with their perceived objectives through the lens of state security. A narrow margin of security syndrome also exists in such a state which is a product of its conventional force inferiority or geographical depth inadequacy or demographic mediocrity. It forces its security apparatus to strengthen itself even if it has to divert resources from other areas. Any parity condition contains an inherent destabilisation factor which disturbs the equilibrium and insecurity sets in with full control. The security apparatus monitors the development mechanism in other organs of the state and does not let them deteriorate to a certain level. However, during acute security intervals the institutional degeneration may surprise the security apparatus as the state suffers internal disturbances.

There are four possible outcomes of a security state. First, the state may become dysfunctional such that it becomes a failed state in which security apparatus sustains its integrity but can only narrowly maintain internal law and order. Second, certain power centres on the basis of ethnic, sectarian or social characteristics appear in the state. If similar attributes take place in the security apparatus, then the state disintegrates. Third, the state passes through a long-confused period wherein the security apparatus maintains its superiority over other state organs. In such a scenario a group(s) may cease political power. Four, a benevolent leadership emerges within the security apparatus which focuses on the economic development and prosperity. Such a scenario presents an all-inclusive approach in which it encourages other state organs to deliver through monitoring, assistance and support.  

The transformation of a security state into a welfare state cannot happen unless it first makes a radical shift in its strategic thinking. The state should focus on how to come out of its insecurity sphere and reconnect with its past in a different way which produces regional harmony. There are two ways through which such a change can be realised. The public starts demanding their protection and well-being including financial support and equal opportunities of survival. As a result, the citizens pressurise the security apparatus to change its course of action. In another scenario, a leadership emerges with a network of like-minded subordinates in the security apparatus which overcomes its intrinsic security culture and dictates terms and conditions for bringing a change in its outlook and perspective.

Hence chances of a security state to be morphed into a welfare state are minimal as it keeps living in perpetual fear.

The writer is a Senior Police Manager and Supervisor. He is a Fulbright scholar and an MPA from Columbia University, NY. He can be reached at [email protected]


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