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Pakistan launches National Security Policy, says ‘peaceful resolution of Kashmir’ issue at core

Pakistan PM Imran Khan launched 62-page-long 'public' version of NSP, while 'main' version will remain classified and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis.

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New Delhi: Pakistan Prime Minister Imran Khan Friday launched an “all-encompassing” National Security Policy 2022-26, which ranges from foreign policy to infrastructure development to technology. Meanwhile, opposition parties in the country have reportedly been left fuming, as they were not consulted while the policy was being drawn up.

While the new National Security Policy talks of seeking peace with India and no hostility with New Delhi for the next 100 years, Islamabad is firm on its stand that this is based on India listening to its demand on Kashmir.

Khan launched the ‘public’ version of the NSP, consisting of 62 pages, that boasts of having “bold visions and big ideas”, and being a document that will bring “domestic stability and regional peace based on mutual co-existence, regional connectivity, and shared prosperity are essential prerequisites to optimising national security”.

The ‘main’ version of the policy will remain classified and will be reviewed on an ongoing basis by the government.

“Cognisant of Pakistan’s complex security requirements, the National Security Policy adopts a directional tone, providing strategic guidance on priority areas for policy action while identifying opportunities for and challenges to our national security in the medium and long term,” the country’s National Security Advisor Moeed Yusuf has said in the policy.

According to the Pakistan government, strengthening the economy and achieving economic security remains at the core of the policy, something Imran Khan claimed all previous government have failed to do.

“Pakistan’s evolution happened in an insecure environment and our national security became one-dimensional and understandably so, because one of our neighbours was seven times bigger than us. We had a conflict with them in 1948 and 1965 and hence our mindset became only one-dimensional and that was military security,” the Pakistan PM said, hinting at India, while launching the policy.

He said the policy is going to be “multi-dimensional” and “all-encompassing”, adding that if the economy is not strong, then nothing can be achieved by a nation, as it has to “run to” the International Monetary Fund (IMF) every other day (for grants and loans).

“When you borrow from the IMF, you have to agree to their conditionalities and that leads to compromise of your security,” he stressed.

According to local media reports in Pakistan, the country is once again headed towards another IMF loan, which will be over and above the $6 billion bailout package it received in 2019.

Also read: Pakistani passport ranks lower than North Korea’s. Twitter says Thank you, Imran Khan

Opposition parties fume

The Imran Khan-led Pakistan government has been working on the document for the past seven years, it mentions. However, according to the opposition parties, their inputs were reportedly not taken when the policy was being drawn up.

When the NSP was approved by the Cabinet, opposition senators had staged a walkout for bypassing the parliament. Pakistan Peoples Party (PPP) Senator Sherry Rehman had then said the government did not present the draft of the security policy in the house, and that it had very little to offer and was nothing more than just a piece of paper.

Pakistan’s National Assembly also witnessed a massive verbal duel Thursday, when the ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) was able to pass the controversial Finance (Supplementary) Bill, popularly known as the “mini-budget”, and the State Bank of Pakistan (Amendment) Bill. Both bills had been tabled on 30 December 2021.

Kashmir remains ‘bargaining chip’

A top source in the Pakistani government told ThePrint that normalising trade ties with India will have Kashmir at its core, and that will continue to be the bargaining chip on smoothening the transit routes too.

Islamabad wants India to declare statehood in Kashmir, hold elections there soon, and to also not promote a demographic change there, the source said, adding that Pakistan is also willing to reinstate normal diplomatic ties with India which it had downgraded owing to the scrapping of Article 370.

In the public version of the policy released Friday, Pakistan has said, “A just and peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute remains a vital national security interest for Pakistan. India’s illegal and unilateral actions of August 2019 have been rejected by the people of Indian Illegally Occupied Jammu and Kashmir (IIOJK).”

It also stated, “Indian occupation forces continue to undertake human rights abuses and oppression through war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocidal acts in IIOJK. In addition, India continues to create false propaganda around the Kashmiri resistance to hide its illegal actions.”

The policy also stated that Pakistan “remains steadfast in its moral, diplomatic, political, and legal support to the people of Kashmir until they achieve their right to self-determination guaranteed by the international community as per UNSC resolutions”.

Specifically on India, the policy says, “Pakistan, under its policy of peace at home and abroad, wishes to improve its relationship with India. A just and peaceful resolution of the Jammu and Kashmir dispute remains at the core of our bilateral relationship.”

 It also said that the “rise in Hindutva-driven politics in India is deeply concerning and impacts Pakistan’s immediate security”.

‘Policy amounts to nothing without direction change’

According to Sharat Sabharwal, former Indian High Commissioner to Pakistan, the new policy “amounts to nothing unless Pakistan changes its internal and external directions”.

“They talk of geoeconomics and then they deny transit through their country to a big economy like India, so what geoeconomics are they talking about in the National Security Policy, anyway?” Sabharwal asked.

Sabharwal said Pakistan did not have the stomach to make a move on Kashmir when a comprehensive formula was drawn up between 2004 and 2007.

“Pakistan has to stop using Kashmir as a plank to target India if it truly wants peace with India. Attempts were made in the past too, but it have not taken forward any backchannel talks,” he added.

The veteran diplomat also pointed towards the fact that while Pakistan is increasingly becoming dependent on nuclear power, its defence budget is growing every year, leaving no legroom in other sectors of the economy.

(Edited by Poulomi Banerjee)

Also read: Pakistan Taliban ex-spokesperson who fled says ISI forced him to lie about India ‘terror funding’


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