The concept of national security

We have no institutionalised decision-making process with focus and coherence in terms of values and objectives.


Ikram Sehgal September 10, 2014

The bankruptcy of our policies has put us under pressure internationally from disparate forces with vested interest. Domestically, this only multiplies the effect of the constant attack by the forces of evil, their appetite for loot and plunder not yet satiated after more than half a century. The recent set of political, economic and diplomatic crisis having created a near critical condition, one must examine the failure of the mechanics of governance and take remedial measures thereof.

German political scientist Hans Morgenthau defined national security in his Politics among nations as “the integrity of the national territory and its institutions”. Globalisation has since made national borders irrelevant, with wide-ranging changes in the concept of national security. Rather than the military securing territorial space, security policy is now evaluated more in terms of human, economic and cultural terms.

We have no institutionalised decision-making process with focus and coherence in terms of values, interests and objectives. Failing to consult sources from outside the government for input on a whole range of issues, Pakistan has been trying ad hoc and ‘containment’ measures in one form or the other for 60 years. We have been holding our own at the tactical level in a slipshod, fickle and disorganised manner, giving only lip service to ground realities. The lack of strategic harmony makes decisions not being formulated in a coherent and integrated manner. There is no dispassionate examination of causes and affects for comprehension, adequate analysis, planning and implementation thereof. Reliance is based on intelligence agencies with their inherent limitations, prejudices and shortcomings, individual whims and caprices making for arbitrary decision-making. Only a permanent mechanism can draw upon all Federal and provincial resources for information gathering, collation of recommendations and preparation of option papers that can lead to sound decision-making.

Inadequacies are prevalent in the present system despite well-structured intelligence organisations as the armed forces have limited inputs from policymakers or experts in foreign policy and economic management. There is limited or no coordination between the civilian and armed forces and intelligence agencies (3) periodical assessments affecting national security do not result in any institutionalised decision-making process, the GHQ does have an organised process but having become part of the problem they occasionally step in to correct, can the khakis comprehend and cope with the complexities of civilian governance? The perspectives and assessments of the military establishment and the elected civilian setup on different aspects of national security differ, there is recurrent political instability because of periodical tensions  without a National Security Council (NSC) Secretariat, an integrated view to formulate cohesive policy options and strategies is lacking and without the NSC or its own Secretariat, the Defence Committee of the Cabinet (DCC) role is limited and rarely discusses major national security issues.

National Security Strategy must serve five primary purposes to communicate strategic vision to both the executive and the Parliament and thus legitimise the rationale for resources. As the elements of national power they need a common understanding of the strategic environment and the administration’s intent to communicate the same common vision to the citizens of the country, intelligentsia and masses alike, communicate coherence and far-sightedness in the security policies of government that all citizens fully support, forge consensus among competing views on direction, priorities and pace, contribute in substance to the national agenda of the political leadership in power. What follows is an interactive, inter-agency process to resolve differences and approve the final document.

Advancing Pakistan’s internal and external security interests must relate to integrating efforts to enhance our security, promote prosperity at home and promote democracy.  The main objectives must be to maintain the integrity and security of Pakistan, secure the safety of its strategic assets, rehabilitate the economy and restore investor confidence and deal firmly with militancy and religious extremism. Moreover, there will be a need to avoid any damage to the Kashmir cause, strengthen the federation by addressing inter-provincial disharmony and restoring national cohesion, ensuring law and order and dispensing of speedy justice without the executive and judiciary being selective about application of the rule of law, de-politicising of the state institutions and meaningful electoral reforms with direct elections to all assemblies on verified electoral rolls.

With large segments of our society remaining poor, deprived and marginally trained, the talented and the selected few must get access to quality education.  We must improve the quality of our middle and higher echelons of leadership to provide dividends, with nepotism and corruption among leadership being ruthlessly eliminated.

Pakistan today is not the land of Islam the Prophet (PBUH) would have wanted, the vision envisaged by the great poet Iqbal or the nation that the Father of the country, Quaid-e-Azam — whose 66th death anniversary is by coincidence today — created it to be! Every nation is an organised entity that needs a roadmap to clearly define what we are, what we want to be and how to get there

(Excerpts from talk at the Pakistan Navy War College, Lahore, on Thursday Sep 11, 2014)

Published in The Express Tribune, September 11th, 2014.

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COMMENTS (7)

Naima | 7 years ago | Reply

The article doesn't talk about private security companies. Out of context and personally motivated comment by Mr. Ranjha!

hammad | 7 years ago | Reply

Unfortunate if anyone would rather have our fake rulers own estates and palaces across Europe and America, if a socialistic setup provides for a national institution as well as its associates without massive corruption (read pseudo-Capitalism in the case of political elite) its good for the country instead of having just for appearance's sake; detached and shallow politicians without any real stake in the well-being of the country.

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