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National Security and Defense

A Study of 2018 Manifestos of Pakistan’s Political1

efending geographical boundaries and politics. The country witnessed a relative calm after
readiness to protect them in conventional military operations in the turbulent areas. However,
warfare has always been a prominent aspect the strong network of militant organizations still made
of national security. However, with emergence of its presence felt by periodically bombing public
Fourth and Fifth generation warfare, national defense places. After APS Peshawar attack, a comprehensive
and national security have become a broader subject National Action Plan (NAP), was chalked out with the
so much so that a well-coordinated strategy consensus of civil and military leadership to
encompassing almost all spheres of life becomes an completely eradicate the extremism.3 Since then, there
inevitable requirement of defense in the contemporary have been complaints of political leadership that the
world. plan isn’t followed in letter and spirit. The truth is,
militants still continue to successfully launch attacks,
Along with focusing on conventional deterrence the
though less frequently and more in peripheries, rather
acquisition of nuclear weapons in 1998, and its
than in core areas. The manifestos in the defense and
delivery system, Pakistan has achieved a
security perspectives are reasonably threats and
comprehensive nuclear deterrence, thereby averting
challenges oriented under the overall prevailing
the chances of limited all out wars. Nevertheless, the
environments. Following brief review highlights the
persistently tensed relations with India, wars in
salient points.
Afghanistan continuing for the last two decades and
the presence of extra regional forces has given rise to • While addressing Defense and security the
multiple challenges for Pakistan’s internal security in political parties are unanimous on
the realm of hybrid and proxy wars. strengthening, building and developing both
the conventional and unconventional
Pakistan is the hard-hit victim of violence particularly
(nuclear) deterrence value of the armed forces
after 2006. Bomb blasts became frequent in the
with a view to deter war. However, PTI is for
northwest as well as major urban centers in the
revisiting the need and quantum of
country. 2 The security and law and order have thus
conventional forces in the presence of
become a question of core importance in the national

This brief is part of a larger study being conducted at IPS to understand the national mood in light of the approach of various
Political Parties, participating in the elections 2018, on subjects of important issues related to the National Agenda.
Laura Roberts, “Pakistan: timeline of suicide bomb attacks 2007-2011”, The Telegraph, May 13 2011,
Azam Khan, “National Action Plan: ‘New criminal justice system’ proposed”, “The Express Tribune”, December 23, 2014.

comprehensive nuclear deterrence. The party Sovereignty of the country is a related subject
also suggests restructuring of higher defense covered in manifestos. It has been indicated
organization into plenary council and that sovereignty will not be compromised for
specialist group under the umbrella of the sake of security. Security apparatus be
National Security Organization (NSO) more focused and physically poised towards
chaired by prime minister. Similarly, MQM safeguarding the territorial integrity of the
has said it will set up a unified command of country. Further, to safeguard sovereignty, a
armed forces. (p.12). Whereas PML(N) is for multi directional policy be adopted to be
regionalization of peace and security through sovereign in decision making on the principle
a web of agreements with neighboring of equality, mutual coexistence and non-
countries and the strengthening of National interference.
Security Committee (NSC).
There seems a significant focus on internal security.
• Majority of the parties give priority to the Along with that foreign policy, national sovereignty
resolution of Kashmir Issue according to the and extremism have also been discussed under the
spirit of UN resolutions. Mutahida Majlis e prism of security. They have tagged terrorism and
Ammal (MMA) is for a rejuvenated and more extremism as part of wide-ranging threat perception.
potent Islamic bloc and extension of help and All parties while rejecting extremism have also shown
support to people of Kashmir, Palestine and concerns regarding the root causes of extremism.
It is worth mentioning that PTI has proposed to build
• It is said that foreign policy is the exterior an institution – A National Security Organization,
façade and the outer most defense post of a in which all stake holders can come together,
country. It is therefore quite logical that all the strategize and oversee a national security policy. PTI
political parties have laid various degrees of (p.56) While PPP has said in its manifesto that it will
emphasis on the need for an independent encourage provinces to establish their own counter
foreign policy. The common grounds terrorism authority. (P.50)
amongst the manifestos are strengthening the
• Emphasis has been laid on pro-active
foreign ministry with experts in the fields of
implementation of National Action Plan
diplomacy, international law, economy,
(NAP) and no use of own soil against other
media and conflict resolution and
countries. all of them have pledged to its
management. The structural changes be
effective implementation, it seems like they
brought to face and handle multi directional
aren’t satisfied with the spirit with which it
and multi-dimensional challenges. All major
has been followed. Political parties, especially
policy decisions and accords /regimes be
PPP and ANP have been complaining that
routed through parliament.
NAP hasn’t been followed in letter and spirit
Peace through dialogue especially with and have vowed to implement it fully and
neighbors is yet another area of common overseeing by the Parliament. While PML-N
interests amongst the political parties. has pledged to strengthen inter-institutional
Reciprocity and equality be the basis of dialogue. (p.62)
comprehensive strategic dialogue. PTI while
Effective implementation and
vows that to avoid arms race in the region, de-
Parliamentary oversight of NAP.
weaponization, and denuclearization be
perused with India through a meaningful
strategic dialogue. Confidence building and enforce and fully implement NAP.
resolution of conflicts through dialogue has (PTI-p.56)
also been emphasized in the same vein5.

A separate brief on Kashmir and relations with India covers specific details in this regard
A separate brief on the Foreign policy gives specific details of manifestos in this regard.

effectively implement NAP. (MMA- of their national security program. MQM has
p.5 PPP-p.48) also refered to a bill that it presented in 2011
to prevent sell, buying, smuggling and
• Emphasis has also been laid on capacity exhibition of arms. PML- has vowed to
building of NACTA, a body considered to be conduct research to understand the root
vital for counter militancy operations and causes of extremism, to find solutions. (p.62)
policies. All major parties have pledged to Following excerpts present the specific
strengthen its capacity, empower and points.
revitalize it. PPP has intended to place it under
the authority of PM secretariat so that it can MQM has promised addressing the
work as coordination and command center for root causes of terrorism-poverty,
all security agencies. Capacity building of religious extremism, and unjust
NACTA, strengthening it with integrated policies. P.12
intelligence coordination directorate, and
MQM has also vowed a complete
elevating its role to a secretariat level is a
deweaponization of Pakistan. Stating
common ground amongst the political
Weapons free Pakistan, their main
dispensation. ANP has promised to build the
agenda regarding national security.
capacity of NACTA as an important
institution for implementation of NAP. (p.5)
MQM has said that it will immediately PPP says it will have Zero-tolerance
develop NACTA in consultation with Police, policy towards extremism. (P.48)
bureaucracy and public representatives.
(p.12) PTI has stressed that there is a need to While PTI has promised to expose
overcome the NACTA logjam, and it will end links between active and passive
bureaucratic turf wars. (p.56) PML-N in its terrorist and win the latter to isolate
manifesto has promised that it will empower the hardcore elements. (p.56)
NACTA. (p.62) PPP intends for re-designing PTI says for a joint military-civilian
and revitalizing NACTA, placing it under PM action against those who refuse to lay
secretariat. (p.49) arms when the passive extremists are
The role of security apparatus in fighting terrorism and separated from the hardcore lot.
extremism is an essential element of internal security. (p.56)
However, use of military instrument is not the only PML-N has said that it will take
option. It is to be defied with a plausible counter initiative to rehabilitate and
narrative, identification and eradication of root causes, mainstream recruits of militant
establishment of writ of the state through rule of law. organizations through social welfare
• As indicated earlier, addressing the question programs. (p.62)
of militancy and extremism, some parties • Law Enforcement Agencies: Police is the
have vowed to address the question at the root primary security force inside the country,
cause level, i.e. eradicating the causes which hence the most important civil force. There
give birth to extremism and militancy, while are different proposals regarding the reforms
others have promised to take action against in Law Enforcement Agencies. ANP, as part
those who refuse to lay arms. PPP has of the transformation of the local security
promised in its manifesto that it will chalk out forces in the tribal region, has vowed to
a streamlined and cohesive National Security transform them into local Police force. ANP
Strategy, and uniformly apply it in all the (p.5) Other parties have not given program
provinces. While MMA has pledged to regarding the existing paramilitary force in
disrupt and uproot the spy networks of hostile tribal area. There have been debates over the
intelligence agencies, operating in the political influence put upon the force by the
country. (p.5). MQM states in its manifesto ruling parties and using it for political
says that weapon free Pakistan is a core part interests. Another debate has been the use of

armed forces’ personal for maintaining law terrorism authorities, victim support program,
and order. ANP while discussing about the rehabilitation of displaced people, capacity
check posts has promised that all check posts building of paramilitary forces and police-
will be handed over to the civilian Police besides revamping of criminal investigation
force, alongside enhancing their capacity. system and avoidance of injustice through
(p.5) PPP has pledged to enhance the military courts. (PPP P.50) To them, forced
autonomy, intelligence and capacity of police disappearance, extra judicial killings, torture,
force. And make police more alert, responsive confessions under duress and excessive use of
and effective. PPP (p.50) PPP has also said force amount to the negation of rule of law
that it will enhance coordination between and are counterproductive towards
different institutions, to effectively identify eradicating the menace of militancy. (PPP.
and target the criminals, and in this regard will P.49) At the human rights plinth PPP is for
set-up Close interaction of NADRA with abolishing death penalty and ANP is for
Police. (p.50) MQM has pledged for ensuring removal of military check posts, clearance of
independence of LEAs from political control. mines and trial of criminals with due access to
(p.12) It also promises that it will build a self- fair trial. (ANP p.22) The conviction be
reliant Police Service. MQM (p.13) PML-N routed through due process of law.
in its manifesto has mentioned that it will Rehabilitation rather than execution will
reform the Police through smart policing and mitigate grievances against the state and
community policing. PMLN (p.62 reduce extremism.

• Vibrant criminal investigation system and While the above review suggests a reasonably close
judicial application of state laws are the soft understanding of the issues and approaches to be
tools to erase extremism from the society. In adopted there are some other relevant security related
this context Speedy and just trial of areas which have been either not addressed or have
criminals involved in terrorist activities has very little indication by political parties in their
also remained an area of concern, because of respective manifestos. The following aspects of
threats to the judiciary and security of defense and security policy warrants due attention and
witnesses and prosecutors. Political parties emphasis.
have also shed light on it. Realizing the
• There is a notion that certain institutions are
importance of the issue there are also
stronger than the constitution. The narrative
promises of developing prosecution and
that army is the only institution that holds and
judicial infrastructure. MQM says it will
binds Pakistan together as a nation state
bring meaningful changes in judicial and
further reinforces this notion. It gives strength
prosecution system. (p.13) MMA promised
to the idea that Pakistan comes first and then
that it will ensure effective role of judiciary in
its constitution. Whereas, in the modern
establishing law and order. (p.5) PML-N has
statecraft every institution is essential and
said that it will reorient Criminal prosecution
dedicated to perform its function within the
system to make it people centric. (p.62) PPP
parameters in the constitution. There is a need
has promised to strengthen infrastructure
to revisit the existing state institutions and
related to prosecution and adjudicating
make them efficient enough to perform their
terrorists and extremist acts. PPP (p.49)
functions. The country is run through these
• The political parties’ manifestos are also energetic inputs and efforts of all state
emphasizing on the need for safety and institutions. The notion of institution versus
security of all citizens. PPP, ANP and MQM constitution is detrimental to the existence of
have largely dovetailed security with rule of a modern nation state.
law, human rights, reemphasized writ of the
• The country is nowadays in the center of the
state and judicious use of force under the
hybrid war with many of its facets fall in the
overall civilian government supremacy. PPP
domain of gray zone. Cyber warfare, media
advocates establishment of provincial counter
blitz, social media onslaught, hostile

narratives, linear warfare, disinformation, Looking at the political parties’ manifestos, it is
rumors and subtle mask propaganda are tools evident that political parties have consensus on the
of hybrid war at the disposal of enemy and vital elements of the national security and have
hostile intelligence agencies. vowed to further enhance their capacity.
However, there have been instances in the past
• An important target of the hybrid war is when the core issues of national security were put
Pakistani youth. Pakistan is a home to a huge at stake because of some short-lived political
above 60% youth, 6 who are using smart interests. Sometimes, an important decision
phones, internet and many such regarding security is kept in the backyard because
tablets/devices. This bulging youth is a soft of the fear of losing political support. Therefore,
target and their mindset, values, sense of the test for the political parties is to put forward
direction, culture social and religious and give top priority to national security, while
bondages can be manipulated, distorted and taking all stakeholders on board. The political or
shaped by subtle doses through social media7. institutional compulsions and vested interests be
• Cyber-attacks on NADRA, stock market set aside in the pursuance of overall objectives of
banking system and networking of state and defense and security policy. War in any form or
private institution could lead to colossal loss manifestation is not a project or enterprise to be
with dangerous consequences through data, outsourced to an institution, political party or
accounts and information manipulation. More private contractors. The new adage is that defense
so the hackers can cause disruption in vital and security is a serious business and not to be left
national networking and penetrate otherwise alone to the generals or politicians but to the
secure links and codes with a view to cause nation state.
chaos, disenchantment and social strife and
panic syndromes.

Prepared by:
Brig. (Retd) Said Nazir
Senior Research Associate
& Bakht Noor
Trainee Research Coordinator
Institute of Policy Studies (IPS), Islamabad.

For queries:
Syed Nadeem Farhat
Senior Research Coordinator
nadeem@ips.net.pk | www.ips.org.pk

UNDP Pakistan,
A separate brief discusses the agendas given for Youth. The points covered in the agendas are quite comprehensive vis a
vis economic and development aspects yet the dimension indicated here is largely missing.