On December 28, 2021, Pakistan’s federal cabinet approved the country’s first National Security Policy (NSP) document. The Policy addresses a broad spectrum of non-traditional and traditional security threats under the concept of “comprehensive national security.” Centered on the idea that the ultimate objective of national security is to ensure the “safety, security, dignity, and prosperity” of all citizens, the Policy broadens the horizon of national security – addressing a longstanding concern that Pakistan’s approach has been too narrowly skewed in favor of hard security. Moving away from the conventional guns versus butter debate, the Policy highlights the need to augment economic security to achieve improved human and traditional security outcomes. In articulating economic security as a central pillar, it emphasizes the geoeconomic paradigm as one of the avenues to strengthen the country’s economic muscle and supplement its efforts to address its geopolitical challenges.
This report looks at the concept of geoeconomics in Pakistan’s context, the broadening of the definition of national security, and two essential factors, namely connectivity and development partnerships, that underpin the idea of geoeconomics as articulated and presented by the Policy. Taking the NSP as a mere starting point, we seek to unpack the concept to generate a nuanced discourse on geoeconomics and what it may mean for Pakistan going forward.
The report is divided into four sections. The first section deals with the concept of geoeconomics. In doing so, it refers to how the term has evolved in the West and how the NSP employs it. The second section deals with the idea of connectivity and why it is crucial in generating crossborder linkages to actualize Pakistan’s geographical potential. The third section highlights the importance of development partnerships, an idea that signals an intent to move away from overwhelming dependence on foreign loans and handouts as a national survival strategy. The final section lays down recommendations for the way forward.
Moeed W. Yusuf is the Vice Chancellor of Beaconhouse National University, Pakistan’s first not-for-profit liberal arts college.
Prof. Dr. Rabia Akhtar is Dean Social Sciences, University of Lahore. She is also the founding Director of the Center for Security, Strategy and Policy Research and the founding Director of the School of Integrated Social Sciences, University of Lahore.
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