National Security Adviser Dr Moeed Yousuf. PHOTO USIP

Dubai: Pakistan’s new National Security Policy (NSP) launched this month focuses on safety, security, dignity and prosperity for all its citizens, instead of boasting about its military capabilities.

Last week, Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan launched Pakistan’s first ever NSP document, focusing on human and economic security. The policy has been widely discussed and appreciated by a cross-section of society as it puts safety and prosperity of citizens at the forefront, with a focus on economic development.

In an exclusive interview with Gulf News from Islamabad, Dr Moeed Yusuf, Pakistan’s National Security Advisor, explained various aspects of the National Security Policy, which is the outcome of seven years of analysis and consultation, led by the National Security Division of Pakistan government. “This document [policy] will continue to evolve to provide guidelines to mitigate emerging challenges and avail new opportunities to make the country secure and prosperous,” he said, adding the NSP document is meant for a five-year period (2022-2026), but it will be reviewed at the end of every year.

Following are excerpts from the interview

GULF NEWS: Why did Pakistan decide to come up with a new National Security Policy?

DR MOEED YUSUF: Pakistan has had a number of distinct policies that related to defence, internal security, food security etc. These policies helped keep Pakistan secure over the years, but given the relevance of traditional and non-traditional security challenges that a fluid global structure is creating, there was a growing understanding of the interconnected and interdependent nature of the security challenges that Pakistan faced.

This is why, in 2014, a process to come up with an umbrella policy was started. In the last seven years, a number of consultations within the government and with private sector have taken place. This has resulted in the comprehensive national security framework that Pakistan is now pursuing. Our comprehensive National Security Policy is citizen-centric and recognises the symbiotic relationship between economic, human and traditional security.

What is the key takeaway from the National Security Policy?

Pakistan’s National Security Policy focuses on safety, security, dignity and prosperity of all our citizens. We will focus on economic security as the core of national security to increase our national resource pie, to be able to redistribute greater resources for human and traditional security needs. Pakistan believes in a policy of peace at home and abroad, this is why we have continuously pursued a policy of seeking peace and stability in the region. Going forward, we will combine our focus on geostrategy with more emphasis on geoeconomics.

What are the most important areas that have been identified in the National Security Policy?

First and foremost is national cohesion and our guiding principle therein is ‘unity in diversity’. Pakistan is a diverse country that will continue to see its diversity as its strength. On the economic front, Pakistan will work to improve its external imbalances. That is why we are focusing on building economic partnerships with our friends in the region and around the world. We believe that hybrid warfare, in the form of influence operations through disinformation and cyber warfare, poses a new and emerging threat. Regional stability requires dedicated effort towards resolving core disputes. This means focusing on resolving disputes such as Kashmir, without which the region as a whole cannot move forward. Finally, we believe that for Pakistan, managing our growing population, water security and climate adaptation are critical areas for human security in the future.

How will you ensure economic security? What are the main pillars of economic security?

We have identified three main sources of threats in the economic domain. The first, as mentioned earlier, is external imbalance. This is created by a negative current account balance. We will focus on increasing our exports, bringing in FDI [foreign direct investment] and stabilising remittance inflows to improve this imbalance. In the long-run, economic growth will depend on our ability to increase financial access within Pakistan, improving productivity in the agricultural and industrial sectors and achieving our potential in IT services exports. Secondly, a major concern is addressing inequality, both in terms of regional socioeconomic disparities and the gap between the haves and have nots. These require a focus on developing our least-developed regions and strengthening our social funds, while promoting opportunities for all citizens.

What is your policy towards the Gulf Cooperation Council?

Gulf countries are traditional partners of Pakistan. We share historical and religious ties that have been strengthened over time through investment, trade, cultural, defence and security partnerships. Our policy clearly identifies building on this relationship with countries of the region and strengthening our bonds for mutual progress. Pakistan also believes that peace and stability in the Middle East is essential for our own security. So we remain committed to working towards this goal with all our partners in the Middle East.

What message does Pakistan seek to convey to the world through this policy?

Pakistan is a confident and reassured nation — one that is clearly delineating its national security interests to the world. We do not believe in camp politics. Pakistan is open to all our international partners for development partnerships and investments. Pakistan should be viewed as a melting pot of positive global economic interests. We have one of the strongest and most able militaries of the world that has demonstrated its ability to ensure the security of Pakistan.

Key takeaways

1. Citizen-centric National Security Policy that places the safety, security, dignity and prosperity of citizens at the forefront.
2. Symbiotic relationship between economic, human and traditional security, with economic security at the core
3. Further strengthening national cohesion through ‘unity in diversity’
4. Focus on economic security to reduce external imbalance and socioeconomic inequality
5. Trade, investment and regional connectivity to be prioritised through economic diplomacy
6. Foreign policy based on peace at home and abroad.
7. Deterring any aggression against Pakistan and building an adaptive, cost-effective and modern defence capability without getting embroiled in an arms race
8. Focus on ensuring writ of the state and rule of law for all citizens and guarantee protection of fundamental rights irrespective of caste, creed or belief
9. Human security through population management, climate adaptation, gender security, water management, health and food security
10. Renewed focus on building a globally competitive human resource pool through investment in youth and a focus on emerging technologies