The term security was considered to be physical security protecting the state and its territorial integrity from external and internal threats. Now, the world has become a global village where the concept of security is no longer confined to only physical security. National security comprises multidimensional domains of security including human security, food security and environmental security.
Therefore, there is a greater requirement to have a holistic view of traditional and non-traditional security threats to Pakistan as they are both interlinked. Barry Buzan’s idea of national security is that which can be understood only by reintegrating all levels of security. National security can be conceptualized by integrating the different kinds of threats to the state such as threats to the territory, economic threats and ecological threats. According to this, deterrence theory is an old phenomenon of the nuclear race during the Cold War but it still has a major role to play in the face of non-traditional security threats.
Pakistan is facing unconventional problems since its inception and these internal threats are weakening its political, economic and social power. This has been posing a major threat to national integration and challenging the core of political institutions. These challenges have not been timely and properly handled by political governments. The weak political institutions did not pay attention to internal security issues and only border defence remained the focus of the military. 9/11 dramatically changed the traditional concept of military security as subsequently non-traditional threats like terrorism, human security, environmental security and cyber warfare became part and parcel of security strategy along with the conventional approach.
For the purpose of a comprehensive analysis, we can identify non-traditional security threats to Pakistan, namely, terrorism, cyber-crimes, organized crime, environmental security, illegal immigration, energy security, human security, ambiguous warfare, water security, urbanization and food security. Such threats to security deserve significant attention from Pakistan’s security policymakers.
Unfortunately, in Pakistan, political, economic, social and environmental aspects of security have never caught the attention of security institutions and policymakers. It is important to note though that Pakistan is surrounded by a hostile geopolitical environment and remains focused on protecting its external borders. Thus, policymakers mainly focus on conventional aspects of security by ignoring non-traditional security threats. However, the Army Public School Peshawar incident in 2014, somehow changed the perspective on security and NAP was announced in which un-conventional security threats like terrorism were included.
Still, many other factors did not receive due attention. According to the Global Climate Risk Index, Pakistan is placed as the 5th most vulnerable country to climate change which requires a collaborative effort from political and non-political security institutions to mitigate this looming threat. Therefore, it needs to be a high priority to focus on extended security strategies with non-traditional threats. However, the internal security and stability of the state should be a top priority as these are the key demands for the overall development of Pakistan. As Kofi Anan once said; “No development without security and no security without development”.
The evolution of the modern concept of deterrence (4th wave) has a significant role to play in the contemporary unavoidable problems associated with the political, economic and military landscape. In the modern age, the concept of security is versatile and provides a systematic framework to spot NTS (Non-Traditional Security) threats. Buzan analyzed how the five perspectives on security i.e., the political, economic, military, societal and environmental influence bring changes to the contemporary affairs of the state. Hence, the gap between the ideas of deterrence and defence must be filled out to tackle these threats.
For instance, terrorism and extremism have been considered as serious threats to national security but non-traditional security threats are still under discussion, which actually poses a greater threat to national security. 9/11 marked a change in the concept of deterrence and converted it into a concept, from specific to general. Post 9/11 and before the Peshawar incident, security and deterrence was used to protect against India but now the deterrence from specific to general has become a necessary part of security policymakers.
The non-traditional security threats are different in nature as compared to traditional security threats. They are non-military and easily transmitted to neighbouring states due to globalization. Therefore, these global problems require global solutions like international cooperation to formulate policies to deal with non-traditional security threats. Military deterrence, as well as non-military sources of political, economic and social arrangements, are much needed to cater to non-traditional security threats in Pakistan. These threats can cause major damage to the development of the state and also to humanity as a whole. Non-traditional security threats may arise from non-state human and also from natural calamities, which become a major reason for economic losses to Pakistan.
Therefore, national security should not be perceived in a narrow sense but in a broader way to cover all kinds of security threats. Deterrence can only be a partial preventive measure against non-traditional security threats. The major approach has to be proactive, which involves good intelligence and security forces, and their actions to identify and apprehend these non-traditional threatening actors. To timely address these threats, there is a need to reset, re-define and re-design Pakistan’s national security strategies for a more sustainable and peaceful region.
DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy and position of Regional Rapport.
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Aqib Sattar is a graduate in International Relations from National Defence University, and an Islamabad based Research Scholar. His Areas of interest is Foreign Policy of Major Powers and South Asia with a focus on Non-Traditional Security Threats.