Press Release – Islamabad Conclave: Working Session V “Addressing Pakistan’s Non-Traditional Security Challenges”

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Press Release
Islamabad Conclave -2021
December 10, 2021

The Centre for Strategic Perspectives (CSP) at the Institute of Strategic Studies Islamabad (ISSI) hosted the fifth working session of the Islamabad Conclave titled, “Addressing Pakistan’s Non-Traditional Security Challenges.” The session was moderated by Director CSP, Dr. Neelum Nigar and the keynote speaker at the occasion was Ambassador Shafqat Kakakhel, Chairperson BoG Sustainable Development Policy Institute (SDPI). Other distinguished speakers included, Ms. Florence Rolle, Country Representative in Pakistan for Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO); Dr. Steffen Kudella, Resident Representative Hanns Seidel Foundation (HSF); Dr. Ning Shengnan, Senior Research Fellow, China Institute of International Studies (CIIS) and an intervention by Dr. Adil Najam Inaugural Dean, Frederick S. Pardee School of Global Studies; Professor of International Relations and Earth & Environment.

In her introductory remarks, Dr. Nigar stated that the global security environment has drastically changed over the last two decades as the security challenges now are increasing from multiple non-traditional realms primarily being non-military in nature. The non-traditional security has now assumed utmost importance in the overall national security paradigm. She was of the view that the NTS has proved itself as a threat irrespective of national boundaries as the concept of security is no longer the state but people and their survival and well-being. The world if witnessing NTS challenges and Pakistan is no exception as it is increasing facing issues related to climate change, population bulge, and food water and energy security amongst others.

Ambassador Kakakhel while expressing his views stated that impacts of climate change such as erosion of the glaciers feeding Pakistan’s rivers, disruption of the pattern of the monsoon winds which will cause floods or droughts, and higher temperature are likely to reduce the quantity and worsen the quality of Pakistan’s water resources. Being an arid dominated country, irrigation is indispensable for Pakistan’s agriculture sector as it is the backbone of Pakistan’s economy which provides over forty percent of jobs while sustaining the livelihoods of majority rural population. He went on to say that in Pakistan, many policies about Climate Change have been postulated but their effective implementation needs to take place. Moreover, reduced supply of water due to climate change will not only adversely affect Pakistan’s agricultural outputs, but also hydropower generation. This will cause water borne diseases threatening our food, energy and health security while slowing down our socio-economic development and efforts to alleviate poverty. He further pointed out that lack of resources will reduce budgetary allocations for defense and deterrence coupled with inadequate resources for addressing the basic needs of the people; especially the weak and vulnerable sections will only exacerbate social tensions. Furthermore, he was of the view that diminished flows of the western rivers could spark tension between Pakistan and India and undermine the effectiveness of the Indus Waters Treaty. Given that all the four rivers forming Pakistan’s Indus Basin originate or transit through India and Afghanistan continued, unhindered access to the waters of those rivers a crucial imperative of our national security. During his remarks he stressed that Pakistan must recognize the climate crisis as threat to its national security and make efforts to protect its domestic and external peace and security, including adaptation to the effects of climate change through internal measures and regional and global cooperation.

Ms. Florence while sharing her views on the climate change and the impact on agriculture, food and water security stated that there is a strong linkage between the three as water determines food security and nutrition which are important life blocks of eco-system. Water of good quality and quantity is essential for drinking and sanitation, food production; crops, livestock and fisheries, as well as for food processing, food transformation and preparation. Furthermore, the quality of drinking water is also important for absorption of nutrients by humans; in addition, water also supports economic growth and income generation and access to food. She stressed that Pakistan water has been and still is in the epicenter of the lives like the Indus basin which is the life bloc for many in this region as back as 5000 years ago. During her talk she highlighted two SDGs; SDG 2, ending hunger and SDG 6 sanitation. The global situation regarding food hunger and sanitation is very bleak and has deteriorated and remains unoptimistic. Since 2015 the number of people affected by severe food and water insecurity has increased along with population effected with micro nutrition, obesity and stunted growth while more people are now living in areas with water shortages. Moreover, there is an alarming increase in total demand for food globally that stands in contrast to the deteriorating situation of water resources around the world and Pakistan stands in the middle of the situation.     

Dr. Kudella during his remarks underlined the importance of strengthening of human security to deal with the non-traditional challenges. He stated that the political paradigm of human security questions traditional security concepts: it does not focus on the protection of the nation state as a main reference point for the critical observer, but on the protection of the individual human being. He was of the view that the traditional understanding of security is not consistent with the increasing global threats such as economic security, food security, health security, environmental security and others. He stressed that the concept’s vast broadness makes it multidimensional, but relatively undetermined too. Human security does not have any clear conceptual boundaries: its vagueness could possibly lead to ineffectiveness for practical policy formulation. He further argues that the concept of human security cannot replace other security concepts, but only complement them. Its reference to the individual security of human beings is helpful as an eye-opener for the vulnerabilities of societies, groups and individual persons, including minorities. He highlighted that the meaning of human security, as it is mostly understood today, is highly dependent on non-traditional security analysis. The field of non-traditional security analysis appears to be of utmost relevance for today’s Pakistan. Once a nation has ensured its traditional security, non-traditional security is its new responsibility. This responsibility must also cover the individual level of the citizens, which is what the idea of “human security” successfully highlights.

Dr. Ning Shengnan in her remarks spoke about the geo-economic salience of Pakistan. She was of the view that Pakistan has great potential of geo-economics as it at the geographical location that connects the East and the West. Pakistan lies at the juncture of South and Central Asia, especially guarding the transport hub between Indian Ocean and Central Asian countries. It is also seated at the strategic economic channel between East Asia and Middle East. It has both land and sea ports, young demographic structure and varieties of agricultural and mineral resources endowment. During her remarks Dr Shengnan highlighted the economic performance of Pakistan; during the 2020-2021 pandemic, while other economies struggling in recession; Pakistan’s GDP grows by an outstanding 3.94 percent and achieved current account surplus and accumulated a four-year high foreign exchange reserves whilst gaining an additional 29 percent growth in workers’ remittances from abroad. She went on to say that with all these achievements, Pakistan is now holding an advantageous position in the global recovery race. Also, the government is readjusting its focus to economic growth, and this creates a more favorable policy environment for doing business.  While talking about the BRI initiative she was of the view that BRI could help in realizing Pakistan’s geo-economic potential as the China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) contributes in activating Pakistan’s potential of a trading nation along the most important trade routes. China itself is an enormous market to which Pakistan could export its products. More importantly, the industry shift from China could provide Pakistan with investment and technologies and facilitate its industrialization and modernization process. She stressed that the current geo-economic situation of the world is changing; the global economy is shifting from globalization to regionalization and dividing into at least three large regions: North America, Europe, and East Asia. Under this scenario, Pakistan owns two aspects of economic opportunities as a connecting hub between the East and the West and also as an indispensible part along the Asian supply chain.

Dr. Adil Najam while making an intervention shed light on the idea of climate change and how it impacts different nations differently. He stressed that water stands at the middle of the climate change crisis whether it is the issue of drought, mass flooding, rain, glacier melts including extreme events. He was of the view that the distinction that is made between traditional and non-traditional security should be eliminated as both translate into existential crisis. When an issue threatens the existence of a society it becomes an existential threat whether traditional or nontraditional in nature; it becomes a security issue. Dr. Najam also highlighted the need for climate diplomacy and cooperation which has largely failed. Being the head for G77 Pakistan can take a lead role in addressing the concept of climate diplomacy and cooperation and bring together developing countries around the world to deliberate on the climate change crisis.