PAKISTAN is perhaps the first South Asian country that has now a comprehensive national security doctrine in a documented form. The country’s friends and foes can interpret it in their own way and engage with the state accordingly. But why has Pakistan chosen to put together pieces of its security approaches in the first place?
For some, the doctrine was needed to remove the persisting ambiguities between the internal and external security paradigms which had emerged after 9/11. While the security institutions were struggling to precisely visualise the terrorism threat, which was internal, such ambiguities had also been harming the country’s conventional strategic vision. Others believe that Pakistan needed to understand and define its place in the changing world order, specifically in the context of America’s shifting priorities, which compelled Pakistan to become a proactive member of the Belt and Road Initiative club. This has not been an easy transition and a major segment of the country’s power elite still believes that hiccups in Pakistan-US relations are temporary and that Islamabad can maintain a fine balance in its relationships with the US and China.
The growing economic challenge has been another nightmare for the establishment, and lies at the heart of the National Security Policy. However, the NSP reflects a much deeper issue and is linked with the identity of the state and maintaining cohesion in society. The state has been using religion to create nationalism in the country but at a very high cost. Religiously inspired actors have used the same religious-ideological arguments against the state and damaged the country by promoting sectarianism and extremist narratives, which have not only weakened communal and sectarian harmony and social cohesion, but have also fed into terrorism.
Over the last two decades, state institutions have made multiple moves to fix the issue of religiously motivated terrorism and extremism. Their attempts have included the National Action Plan, Paigham-i-Pakistan, the National Internal Security Policy and the Counter Violent Extremism Policy. A large part of the emphasis has been on bringing in religious actors as the key agents of desired change. The state remains reluctant to find an alternative source of social and national cohesion and feels threatened by the presence of sub-nationalist cultures and sentiments in parts of the country. So, it appears convinced that only a religious narrative could work towards harmonising society. Even in the introduction of the NSP, the prime minister has adopted a religious tone to endorse the policy document.
Political parties and most parliamentarians do not touch any issue with the tag of ‘security’.
It is interesting that while state institutions usually keep a distance from the critical mass of the country, the policy draft has borrowed all ideas and terminology used in the latter’s intellectual discourse — mainly ‘inclusivity’ and ‘diversity’. For instance, in the section on national cohesion, the policy draft reads like this: “It is imperative that we reinforce our coherent national identity based on the principle of unity in diversity.” However, in the next line, there is an expression of fear of external forces which are exploiting the fault lines that exist in society. Notwithstanding the fear behind the notion of ‘unity in diversity’, this is a positive development. But how will the state institution translate it into action? Through changes in the curriculum as mentioned in the NSP? But what is the state doing to bring changes in the curriculum in the first place? The major objection to the Single National Curriculum is that it promotes exclusivity. It is not clear that the state institutions will engage society from whom they have borrowed the terms. Traditionally, their allies for sociopolitical and ideological engineering remained the religious groups from the time of the Afghan jihad to preaching Paigham-i-Pakistan.
It is not certain how NSP will help in addressing the identity crisis in the country when the predominant approach of achieving social and national cohesion is to reduce the space for sub-nationalist movements. Apparently, ‘cohesion’ has been used as an alternative term for engagement. The state is using the engagement strategy for religiously inspired actors and cohesion for subnational movements. However, the unclassified NSP document does not help us understand how the cohesion process will be initiated. Will it be a coercive or dialogue-based process?
The NSP identifies the religiously inspired extremist groups and sub-nationalist movements as the key internal security challenges. As per practice, the state spectrum of threat includes other segments of society in this domain as well, which sympathise with any group or movement or raise their voice over state action and policy. The state institutions think in black and white and want to curb all threats with full impunity and without any accountability. They lack the ability to identify the grey areas and it is even harder for them to evolve the policy framework around it.
Parliament can do this job to clearly identify the grey areas, the grievances of the people, and the dynamics which can develop cohesion so that miscreants and irritants can be isolated. Parliament and civilian governments have done this job and developed all instruments and institutions for fixing the issues, including the economic and political grievances of the federating units. But the issue as always remains implementation and the executive remains bound to its commitment to the establishment rather than operationalising trust. Obviously, the executive derives its strength from the establishment rather than from dialogue with dissenters.
Over time, the word ‘security’, has become very sensitive. Political parties and most parliamentarians do not touch any issue with the tag of ‘security’. They think this is the exclusive domain of security institutions and their job is only to endorse whatever policy is coming from the establishment. If the NSP is presented in parliament, it will be endorsed very easily. Parliament is sovereign but it should be truly independent, and all political parties must play a role to make it the country’s supreme institution. Nothing can guarantee a cohesive Pakistan more than a vibrant parliament.
The UAE Drone Attack is a Grim Reminder for Better Regulation of Drones
The drone technology has ushered in an era of revolution, not only in military sector but in other sectors as well. Unmanned aerial vehicles have found employment in agriculture sector for purpose of spraying hazardous chemical fertilizers which might cause several skin diseases if sprayed with bare hands. Drones are used for the purpose of crop assessment and India has recently employed drones for measuring agricultural lands and digitizing the land records. Drones are also used for delivering critical pharma ingredients and have recently been used to deliver Covid-19 vaccines in remote and inaccessible areas. Other potential uses of the technology include surveillance of mines before mining for any potentially-hazardous gases.
But this drone technology is not a win-win technology and comes with its own security concerns. On January 17, 2022, two Indian and one Pakistani national were killed in a drone attack at a fuel storage facility which was claimed by Yemen’s Houthi rebels. In retaliation, the Saudi-led coalition targeted Houthi strongholds in the capital city of Sana’a through air raids. However, this is not the sole incident where a non-state actor has resorted to drone technology for carrying out successful attacks. In June 2021, Pakistan-sponsored terrorists detonated drone-carried IED at an Indian Air force base. Drones have also been used by ISIS to target bases of coalition forces.
The dynamic drone technology has become a growing concern for law-enforcement agencies all over the world. The main objective of drone technology, also known as the Unmanned Aerial Vehicle was to benefit commercial, humanitarian, civilian and peaceful military activities. However, these have become a new tool of mass destruction with little to no collateral damage to the perpetrator. The recent attacks highlighted above are a glaring example of the destructive potential of this critical and emerging technology.
What are the challenges from drone technology?
I want to make it very clear in the first place that the threat lies not from this technology itself but rather who uses this technology. Hence, the foremost challenge comes from the potential misuse by the rogue elements as mentioned above. Non-State actors, terrorist organisations can use drone technology to carry out simultaneous attacks. Moreover, evidence suggests that drones intended for commercial purpose can be modified for non-commercial purposes. Hence, it is quite difficult to identify the type of technology; the kind of drone which can be employed to launch attacks.
Another significant concern for the law-enforcement agencies is that low-flying drones escape air defence systems. The use of these small drones in the night time can prove more deadly. The small and insignificant size of these drones grants them weak radar, thermal and aural signatures. These nano-drones are not very expensive and are readily-available in the market. Hence, the cost-benefit analysis provides desirable results.
Another concern regarding the Unmanned Aerial Vehicles technology is that this technology is a rapidly-evolving technology which requires a constant monitoring of the modifications introduced in the technology. Over the past few years, drones have become central to the functions of various businesses and governmental organizations and have managed to pierce through areas where certain industries were either stagnant or lagging behind. This requires both the national as well as the global security apparatus to be on toes to counter this evolving technology.
Another problematic aspect of drones is that the technology supports both intra-and-inter country drones. In other words, the attack can be perpetrated from a place within a country as well as from a place across the border. A recent example of cross-border drone attack is of course the recent attack by the Houthis on the UAE oil storage facility highlighted above. The worrying trend in this regard is that most of the time, the victim country does not have enough insight over what is being planned or evolved across the border. Probably, that was the reason why both the UAE as well as Indian authorities failed to thwart the respective attacks in their territories.
Present defences available against Drone attack-
Present counter-drone technology can be bifurcated in kinetic and non-kinetic defences. Kinetic systems are countermeasures designed to impact a drone in-flight to disable/damage it. Kinetic defences involve the use of an external element to thwart the attack. It can be done through spraying bullets on the UAV, destroying it through laser or high-powered electro-magnetic waves, using a small-range ballistic missile, collision with another drone, etc.
However, Kinetic counter-measures come with their own limitations. For a kinetic defence to be successful, a number of factors need to be ensured. The foremost among these factors is the ability to track drones as soon as possible. Without tracking of drone in time, it would not be possible to coordinate the defence in time. Moreover, the weapons used to bring down drone are generally short-range weapons which are effective only up to a small distance, say 100 feet. Any skilled-drone operator can easily defy these weapons maintaining good flight planning and situational awareness in monitoring the drone’s flight path.
Another set of counter-drone technology consists of non-kinetic defences. It includes using jammers to disrupt communication between the drone and the drone operator, disrupting the GPS signal, etc. Basically, these measures do not require the security forces to conduct any combat operations. However, much needs to be done in the realm of counter-drone technology because of the nature of the rapidly-evolving drone technology.
What needs to be done?
I have already highlighted the potential of this drone technology to transform various sectors and the fact that it is not the technology but the user of this technology who might pose a threat. Hence, the foremost thing to be kept in mind is to prevent drones from falling into wrong hands. This can be done through placing stringent registration requirements on the part of operators. Issuing a Unique Identification Number for each drone can be helpful in this regard. Further, certification of every drone by the competent aviation authority must be made compulsory.
Low-cost drones have the potential for more mischief. These drones weigh as less as 250 grams. Hence, there is a greater need to regulate these type of drones. Official supervision requirements can be placed for manufacturing of drones beyond a certain size. Moreover, a greater emphasis should be there on encouraging self-discipline within the drone industry in order to prevent the drones from falling into wrong hands.
With respect to counter-drone technology, the need is to respond swiftly and remain one-step ahead while working on counter-technology. Development of an all-encompassing air-defence system must be prioritised in order to track and bring down any drone irrespective of size. More funds are required to be poured in for research and development purposes in this regard. The focus should be on autonomous hard-kill counter-technology.
The Current Situation And The Governance
It has been almost one and half year of PML (N) led Federal Government to complete but the situation is going from bad to verse. On the Economic front , it has achieved a tremendous success but on the Security front, it has been facing the constant internal and External threats . The Bomb blasts , extortion and Communal riots are on the rise and the whole country is going through the most dangerous and critical security situation which shows no sign of improvement .
Despite failure of dialogue with Tehreek Taliban Pakistan (TTP) after their conditional Ceasefire , So far no positive results have been experienced or observed as reported by the main stream Security analysts . Consequent upon the Presidential Elections in Afghanistan , the deadline of NATO forces withdrawal from Afghanistan is fast approaching and with replacement of Karzai Government , Pakistan will be facing the Security threats from the TTP factions existing in Tribal Areas , Punjab and long bordering Afghanistan . With aggressive attitude of Armed forces after the induction of General Pervez Musharaf in the high treason case of suspending the Constitution and imposing emergency in the country .
The Army as an institution is in aggressive mood as Renowned Analyst and Journalist Najam Sethi has predicted that Army will resist any capital punishment given to Former Chief of Armed Forces General Pervez Musharaf. As the later himself claimed and still claims that the Army is with him. The Statement of general Pervez Musharaf that he enjoys the support from the Armed Forces cannot be ruled out as Political parties have started consultations over giving the safe exit to former Armed Chief to avoid institutional confrontation .
The All of Sudden decision of Armed forces to initiate major Offensive against various factions of Taliban militants under the operation Zarab-e-Azab in North Waziristan and other Tribal Agencies clearly echoes the “all powerful institutional status” of the Armed Forces . The judiciary and The parliament are being overshadowed by the Mighty Institution with the passage of Protection of Pakistan Act 2014 which could be used against the anti state Actors and security personnel could detain any suspect or political Activist for the period of 90 days without reporting the whereabouts of the Detainee.
On other hand , After serious incident of Model Town Lahore which claimed 12 innocent lives and 90 persons got injured, has started a tug of war between the Strong man Shahbaz Shareef and Revolutionary Dr Tahir –ur-Qadri as the later has been criticizing the Punjab Government for bad governance and demanding the case may be registered against Punjab CM and Security Personnel considering them responsible for the Model town Shootout . To remove the stain from Shahbaz Sharif , Sharif Brothers ousted the Provincial Law minister Rana Sanaullah making him Sacrificial Goat . The Gullu Butt Mystery is yet another issue to be reckoned with. The PML (N) seems to be between devil and deep sea to deal with the issues popping up all of sudden.
The PTI’s head Imran Khan’s Saga is yet another pressure tool for the government to deal with since Mr. Khan has been demanding recount of four Constituencies of Lahore but the Government has not heeded to them as yet . The Demand has been supported by the PPP recently which might have confused the already under pressure Sharifs to make some tough decisions since PTI’s Announcement for Freedom March on 14th August might have compelled the PML (N) government to make some measures to cope with the Freedom March plan .
Asif Ali Zardari’s recent statement over PTI’s Demand may have shaken the PML (N) leadership since Zardari’s PPP enjoys the strong Position in the Assembly as well as in Senate which may create hurdles in the way of PML(N) and may create such a scenario where Midterm Polls looming Possibility , may become a reality as with MQM a coalition partner in Sindh with PPP , both may force the Sharifs to accept the demands and make some bitter Decisions which may change the entire situation .
Pakistan has become the land of controversies such as Dr Arsalan Iftikhar’s recent Blame game against PTI chief and challenging the Candidature of Imran Khan and PTI challenging the Candidature of Sharif brothers has other motives to disclose since the parties have been watching the situation very attentively and joint opposition Alliance Possibility could not be ruled out as every Political party has got some Common interest and every party wants to win the hearts of the people with their campaigns against the government .
Some mainstream Parties have initiated campaigns against Rigging , corruption and energy crisis , some have raised issues against operation , some has criticized the privatization road map for the State Institutions ,some have criticized the Economic and Human Rights Policies . Some have also criticized the nepotism and favoritism in the appointment of heads of various State Institutions. So much so, that almost every Political Party has a bone to pick with the Government. In this connection, Government has been compelled by the prevalent situation has decided to let the Freedom Marchers to March on Independence since the PML(N) think tanks have advised the Government that if government resisted to the Freedom Marchers led by Imran Khan , may have serious repercussion which may change the entire scenario and create such situation which may further aggravate the governance and PML(N) led Federal government days may be counted .
The recent Popularity Survey conducted by Gallop and other Organization show that PTI enjoys the First Position , PPP second and the PML(N) has slipped to number three as PML(N)’s popularity graph has been constantly maintaining downward trend which is not suitable for already criticized party by the leaders of mainstream party . The People of Pakistan has been fed up with “you –n-me” turns and want this to be changed with performance indicators and visionary leadership. The people have become fatigued to elect same legislators from the same constituency for consecutive three decades and want the old faces to be replaced with new ones .
As the oldies have become controversial due to corruption , nepotism , favoritism , influence on security agencies and other state machineries and inefficiency and lack of clear policy and vision to materialize the promise they had made with the people during their Election campaigns or those written in their Election Manifestos .Election manifestos are written to attract the voters to cast their votes in the favor of Parties candidate as nobody takes any responsibility to review the previous manifestos and update the manifestos with clear vision .
For instance , PML(N) had promised to end load shedding in six months but failed miserably and heavily criticized for setting illogical targets without any consultation with Power Sector Specialist or doing any research on any issue since Except the PTI ,No any party has any strategic Policy unit to address the key issues and do some research present and future issues related Human Rights , Development , Planning , Demography , Social Development , Economic Development , Natural Resource Management , Security , foreign Policy , Democracy and Governance and come up with lasting solutions to those issues of higher importance and drafting their manifestos on the basis of Research and Situation analysis rather than just exaggerated calculations and making illogical conclusion which be the basis for criticism at a time when these same issues may become the cause of the Government failure .
So why not take some initiative in advance to address the issues and find out lasting solutions after Research, analysis and consultations. This will change the whole picture of the governance and bring in innovations in Democratic Process rather than just traditional Politics .
The Flawed Electoral System And Good Governance
Pakistan has been the most unfortunate country, governed by non professional Feudals ,Capitalists and less educated legislators who mostly win the Elections by rigging , feudal influence ,power and strength , leaving little space for the poor segments of the society to exercise their right to vote for the candidates of their choice . The Practice of Exercising the vote for the deserving candidates has been a tough task for the people residing in rural areas who are heavily influenced by the Feudal lords .
These feudal lords have complete control over these poor souls and force them , mostly the small farmers and peasants , to vote for the candidates he had promised and incase of defiance , get ready for the serious consequences. The Polling Stations are controlled by the hired goons of these Feudal contesting candidates who not only pressurize the polling staff for the support of their candidate but even cast fake votes on the power of Guns . The poor polling staff receiving life threats in the station compellingly nods to the wishes of these spoons who are tasked to get support from polling staff for maximizing the chances of Success of their contesting candidates .
In this condition , the staff administering the Polling station and one or two Police security personnel could not resist to the powerful candidates who enjoy the greater support in the higher ranks of bureaucracy . Such systems have produced the worthless politicians who grease their palms when they are in power and spend the public funds on their personal luxuries forgetting those who made their access to Assemblies possible by voting in their favor .
In Pakistan , the Elections are either held before the completion of term or sometimes marred by the Coup D’états as the history reflects the story . Pakistan has been ruled more by the Marshal Law Administers than by the Elected Democratic forces. The Election in Pakistan is contested by various parties in the various provinces. Some parties such as PML (N) , Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarians have majority at federal level where as the some parties have majority at Provincial level . For instance, the Parties such as ANP and JUI-F had massive majority in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in previous term of Pakistan People’s Party Parliamentarian led Government but after May 11 2013 Elections PTI gained thumping popularity by winning the maximum number of seats in the General Elections and has become the third largest party in terms of seats in Pakistan after PML(N) and PPPP.
The PTI has also impressive representation in National Assembly, Punjab Assembly and Sindh Assembly as well. Led by Former Cricketer Imran Khan , PTI has evolved into a well organized Party specially for youth of Pakistan . Until 2013, there were only two party rule with majority. But in may 11 Elections last year , PTI emerged as victorious party with simple majority in KPK to form the Government with Moderate religious Party Jamaat Islami in the Terrorist hit and Drone engulfed Province . PPP has always won the most seats in Sindh followed by Urban influenced MQM and PML-Functional . In Punjab , its PML –N and PML-Q to appear victorious but in last elections PML-N was given the clean chit in Punjab to grab the maximum seats . Though the PTI protested against the rigging in the constituencies of Lahore and carried demonstrations but to no avail .
The Baluchistan always gives mix response where no party gets simple majority in the province and forms Government with other coalition partners but the PML-N Chief Mian Nawaz Shareef gave the chance to nationalists of BNP to form the government with PML-N and other parties There are several parties registered with Election Commission of Pakistan but they are not deep rooted as compared to ,main stream parties such as PML –N , PPPP, MQM , PTI , MNP , PML-F , PkMAP and PML-Q . Though the nationalists in Baluchistan contest the general Elections but in Sindh It was very first time that the national parties such as SUP , STP and QAT contested Elections last year but could not win any seat even though they had an alliance.
The Last year Election were a bit change as compared to previous elections as voters were required to place their thumb impressions and CNIC number on the ballot papers on the reserved part of the Ballot paper which was held for record purposes but the other portion of the ballot paper which was given to the voters , did not carry both the thumb impression and CNIC number thus making the whole process questionable and deliberately the possibility of rigging appeared . The PTI even went on to say that the Whole Elections were rigged and demanded re-elections but the demand was put down when they formed their Government in KPK .
Moreover , the fake Degree holding Legislators were first disqualified and then permitted to contest elections making adverse effect upon the future elections taking the fake degree issue into consideration . If you are allowing those who made false statement of their qualifications and submitted bogus degrees to Election Commission ,then how could you expect a Good governance from the candidates . Everybody will raise fingers upon them as they cannot be sincere to the nation whose precious votes were hijacked by the candidate holding fake degree .
The Fake Degree holders should have been given the exemplary punishment and a life time ban on their candidature for Provincial , National and Senate seats .Our neighboring country India has introduced e-voting system for making the Election free , fair and transparent then why can’t we adopt and introduce such system to discourage the possibilities of the rigging and over influence . The world has been benefiting from the technology but we are not availing the services of reputed Technology giants to mock test the e-voting system . Though mock testing was done in KPK for local Government Elections which produced positive results .
As Election Commission of Pakistan is going to hold Local Bodies Election this year in Sindh , Punjab and KPK , why not give a try to the e-voting to ensure maximum transparency and further the reputation of apex election Body which is tasked to hold Local as well as General Elections . The Election Commission should mock test e-voting system in all the provinces and seek feedback from the voters about the system and arrange televised sessions for voter education and introduction of the e-voting system which will probably minimize the chances of bogus voting and rigging in the Elections . At the same time the ballot papers should carry CNIC , Thumb impression box on both parts such as the portion which is reserved for record and the portion for casting vote after stamping the election sign of the candidate of voters’ choice .
Unless the whole Election system is completely revamped and improved , the inefficient candidates will keep on making their way to the assembly whose credibility would always be questioned since systematic flaws directly affect the Governance system due non professional and less educated candidates who will miserably fail to undertake the tasks of Policy making , Legislation and ensuring good governance . These people will be at mercy of the Secretarial Staff to guide them in their operational and legislative duties .The Election commission may also contact the polling staff from NGO’s and Public as in service Staff is influenced by the candidates easily . This will greatly help minimize the rigging chances and encourage the Good Governance System after success of deserving candidates and at the same time will make whole electoral system transparent and fair .
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