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Beyond Hobson and Sophie

National security is an extremely serious business that should not be reduced to an item for discussion in public meetings and cannot be left entirely to the ignorant politicians.

By Sirajuddin Aziz | February 2023

The land constituting today’s Pakistan has historically been the crossroad where at least five different civilisations sojourned for a few centuries and in their wake, they left upon the local populace their long-term social and cultural impact that has remained almost unchanged for the last many centuries. All invaders who descended upon Delhi from the West, especially from the Central Asia now referred to as the Central Asian Republics, came through the Khyber Pass and went through the land of five rivers to Delhi and other places. As an inexplicable reality, be it the Chinese dynasties/monarchies, the rulers of the hermit kingdom (Korea) or be it the Japanese, they never considered occupying Delhi or the subcontinent. The Japanese came close to Burma (Myanmar) and a Japanese submarine was reportedly spotted in the waters of Godavari River in south India near Chennai (Madras) during the Second World War.

Blessed with an irrevocable strategic geographic advantage, Pakistan is of great interest and relevance to all global powers. The global interest has the potential to gain dominance over our own national interest. To keep this probability at bay, having a formidable national security policy and its related apparatus intact and ready is extremely critical.

Achieving peace through dialogue is an ideal solution as long as there is enough strength at our disposal to make such a fancied dream come true. In fact, it is the lesson of war that helps nations value the significance of lasting peace. Put in bluntly, a war has to be waged to stop it. ‘Peace rarely comes and is seldom sustained when people refuse to fight. Peace comes when both sides realise that war is possible, and through fair negotiation, avoid conflict. Peace can only be attained through strength,’ writes the American author Jim Stovall, in his bestselling book titled ‘Wisdom of the Ages.’

There are both military and non-military threats facing the countries. Particularly in this day and age, the non-military threats have substantially expanded to include such emerging concepts as cultural invasion, largely because of rapid advancements in information technology. Any national security policy, therefore, must encompass the emerging forms of non-military warfare too. This has now led to the waging of hybrid wars between the warring nations. Nations tend to test the strength and response of their opponents through small teasers. Daring or sabre-rattling is the finest tactic that a war strategist with some genius can effectively employ, but it must never be confused with an action-packed adventure, as was done by the Indians in the Ladakh region and thwarted by Chinese forces with full action.

National security is not a new concept. Post Second World War, collective security became fashionable, in the shape of the Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), the Southeast Asia Treaty Organization (SEATO) and the Warsaw Pact, the military complement to the Council for Mutual Economic Assistance (COMECON). The North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) is a fallout and remnant of that concept ---- this grouping of various countries was based on forming military alliances to demonstrate strength and later the creation of the United Nations was seemingly the civil way of maintaining global security, within the ambit of international law, governance and financial and economic interdependence. The effectiveness of the UN in keeping peace or providing security cover to nations has been less than expectations. Thus, every country has had to develop and have its own security policy and defence arrangements.

The world has moved from purely looking at national security from a military standpoint to a new set of security concerns like physical security (internal security) as well as security in terms of economic, energy, environmental and other aspects. The issues of national security today need to be addressed through the lens of predictability both in the short and long term.

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