Human security in Pakistan – an Analysis

by Qurat Ul Ain Shabbir
Recently published Pakistan’s first ever report on human security authored by Hafiz A. Pasha holds significant importance in evaluating the overarching human conditions prevalent in Pakistan. The development has the potential to establish a framework for policy-making in Pakistan, signaling a shift towards a focus on human security within the country, challenging the conventional perspective that viewed security through a traditional lens. However, it needs to be assessed whether the report successfully captures and communicates the authentic challenges confronting Pakistan concerning human security. The report mainly revolves around the economic challenges faced by the country. It advocates for substantial reforms in the overall economic structure of the country, highlighting economic challenges as the foremost source of insecurity in Pakistan. In order to address these challenges, it underscores the urgent necessity for a comprehensive “Charter of Economy”. The report primarily focuses on the economic challenges confronting Pakistan, positioning them as the foremost source of insecurity. It advocates for substantial reforms in the country’s economic structure, emphasizing the urgent need for a comprehensive “Charter of Economy.” Pakistan’s economic trajectory has been characterized by a lack of clear direction, attributed to the absence of a consistent and well-defined economic policy. Despite sporadic reforms, the initiatives lack a cohesive, long-term strategy, hindering private sector growth due to the absence of an effective institutional framework.
The looming specter of default in Pakistan is identified as a significant threat to human security. The persistent risk could substantially reduce revenues, diverting income towards interest payments and high costs, limiting resources for essential services. A sovereign default could trigger hyperinflation, intensifying economic hardship, and pushing internal security conditions into critical territory. The report strongly advocates for the implementation of a charter of economy, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive framework to ensure the sustained progress of the economy and prevent any potential derailment. This recommendation is particularly pertinent given the fragile economic conditions prevailing in Pakistan. However, it is crucial to recognize that the linchpin determining the success of such a framework lies in achieving political stability. Political instability stands out as a major impediment, contributing significantly to the lack of continuity in economic policies and fostering an environment of uncertainty for businesses and investors. This instability has, in turn, hampered the country’s ability to attract investments and catalyze economic growth. Therefore, the foremost prerequisite for any successful economic reform, anchored in the principles of human security, is the establishment and maintenance of a degree of political stability. This raises the critical question of whether such a framework necessitates a clear separation between economics and politics. The challenge in Pakistan lies in the entanglement of economic factors of growth with political maneuvering. The institutional landscape, across various spheres, has become so highly politicized that untangling the realms of politics and economics appears to be a monumental task. The interdependence of these domains complicates the creation of a framework that could shield economic growth from political volatility. Addressing Pakistan’s economic challenges requires navigating this intricate web of political and economic interplay to establish a more robust and independent economic system. In his report, Hafiz Pasha underscores the potential role of a charter of economy in overhauling taxation, effective spending and relief to the poor. The country’s tax collection issue has long been a subject of extensive debate in the media, yet meaningful resolutions have remained elusive. Similar to other nationally significant matters, the taxing discourse is heavily politicized, complicating the path to a conclusive resolution. Effective revenue generation through tax collection is pivotal for economic security. However, the prospect of substantial progress seems remote, not only due to economic constraints but also a palpable lack of political will among those in power. Compounding the challenge, previous governments have eliminated certain taxes, often to favor specific groups, and granted exemptions to significant industries at various junctures. The crux of the matter lies in navigating the intricate web of interests where the economic concerns of the elite are intertwined with the broader economic landscape of Pakistan. How this intricate issue will be resolved remains a significant question mark, requiring careful consideration of political will, economic constraints, and the vested interests of influential groups. The absence of an efficient spending policy contributes significantly to Pakistan’s financial imbalance. Properly allocating funds is crucial to align expenditures with economic and social goals, preventing fiscal deficits. Former finance minister Miftah Ismail emphasizes the need to limit major public sector projects and reduce current expenditures, such as the defense budget, albeit requiring political maneuvering. Any economy-centric charter independent of politics could escalate grievances at provincial and national levels. Addressing political dynamics in energy price increases through the Charter of Economy remains unclear. Restructuring energy subsidies faces obstacles, including the absence of a safety net for the economically vulnerable. While the Charter of Economy may sound appealing in theory, achieving its implementation without succumbing to political maneuvering appears to be a challenging goal. Currently, what Pakistan requires most is political cooperation rather than solely relying on an economic charter. The collaboration on the political front is deemed essential to guarantee economic stability, recognizing the interdependence of political decisions and economic outcomes. Human security in Pakistan – an AnalysisBy Qurat-Ul-Ain Shabbir is a research officer at the Center for International Strategic Studies (CISS) AJK. Currently, she is pursuing her Ph.D. degree in DSS from Quaid-i-Azam University. Her areas of interest include comprehensive security and conflict analysis.      

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Center for International Strategic Studies AJK, King Abdullah Campus Chatter kalas Muzaffarabad, Azad Jammu and Kashmir