On Monday, the government announced what is—according to them—the first ever National Security Policy of the country at a meeting in which the civil and military leadership discussed internal and external security issues. Following the meeting, the document will be made public and it would cover all internal and external security aspects, including the situation in Afghanistan and its impact on Pakistan and other countries in the region.
A couple of weeks earlier, NSA Dr Moeed Yusuf informed the Parliamentary Committee on National Security that the upcoming policy is designed to leverage the symbiotic relationship among human security, economic security and military security with the safety of citizens as its principal focus. While it is encouraging to note that this document adopts a more holistic perspective, there does appear to be some word play here to make it seem more novel than it is. Sure, the document is different in the sense that it has a wider ambit of focus, but towards the end of its tenure, the previous government also launched the National Internal Security Policy 2018-2023 that also focused on administrative and socio-economic issues.
Nonetheless, there is finally recognition of the importance to focus human security and development and this is a trend that needs to be consolidated upon. For far too long, security policy has taken precedence because the term in and of itself is considered to inherently hold more weightage compared to other policy realms. This is something that other countries have overcome and we need to do the same. Given the economic and development hurdles we are facing at this point, a focus on human security must be paramount.
Another positive aspect of this document is that it will be reviewed and updated annually in accordance with changing circumstances. Perhaps future iterations could be more consultative in nature as well where political parties, civil society members and the parliament are taken on board. The hope now is that these documents are translated into actual policy on the ground. Until that happens, there will remain some cynicism given that policy documents such as the National Action Plan and many others never had a tangible impact.