Pak launches National Security Policy plans to tackle economic woes

By Sajjad Hussain
    Islamabad, Jan 14 (PTI) Pakistan launched its first-ever National Security Policy on Friday, showing that the country plans to reduce strategic challenges by fixing the chronic issue of imbalances in the external payments and domestic anger by reducing the gap between the rich and poor.
    Section IV of the policy titled as Securing our Economic Future delves into the economic challenges and prescribes policy intervention to address the problem.
    “The economic security dimension of the National Security Policy focuses primarily on reducing three challenges for national security emanating from the economic sphere: external imbalance, vertical inequalities, and horizontal inequalities,” according to the policy.
    It suggests that the country should “achieve economic security and sovereignty through sustainable growth, inclusive development, and financial solvency.”
    It says that external imbalance emanates from consistently higher foreign exchange outflows as compared to inflows and in order to exercise the full spectrum of sovereign choice in both domestic development objectives and international affairs, addressing the issue of external imbalance is essential.
    “Long-term sustainability depends in large part on Pakistan’s ability to correct its current account deficit. This will primarily be achieved through a dedicated focus on export growth and export-oriented foreign direct investment enabled by ease of doing business, as well as increasing foreign remittances,” according to the policy.
    It showed that the first axis of vertical inequity is socio-economic inequality manifested in the gap between the rich and the poor, which can have a disruptive effect by way of social unrest and political instability.
    “Equitable economic development is therefore a national security priority which will be pursued by preventing elite capture of policy, removing barriers and expanding opportunities for low-income households, and providing access to entrepreneurship and ownership,” it said.
    Talking about horizontal inequalities, it says that removing disparities in economic development between various regions of the country is also a key national security priority because disparities in prosperity and opportunity between regions have been used by sub-nationalist elements to generate a narrative of grievance based on under-development in their regions.
    It says that sustainable growth and inclusive development are hallmarks of a secure nation but with approximately 2 million new entrants to the workforce each year, Pakistan requires consistently high growth to ensure employment opportunities commensurate with their education levels and skills.
    “As Pakistan supplements its geo-strategic focus with an added emphasis on geo-economics, it envisions itself as a melting pot of global economic interests offering economic bases to its partner countries for development partnerships,” says the policy.
    It says Pakistan’s prized geo-economic location provides a unique opportunity through north-south and east-west connectivity for South and Central Asia, the Middle East, and Africa,
    China-Pakistan Economic Corridor and other connectivity initiatives provide an opportunity to expand our export and industrial base while building rewarding economic relationships in our wider region,” it says.
    It says that energy security was vital for economic progress and Pakistan aims to increase the share of installed capacity through renewable sources to 30 per cent by 2030 and together with prioritising investments in hydropower projects, the country’s share of clean energy should reach 60 per cent by 2030.
    The policy also suggests building human resources to make a globally competitive workforce, especially in the skilled and semi-skilled categories, which will help create opportunities for citizens abroad.
    “Greater focus on skilled and semi-skilled manpower export will contribute to even more robust and influential diaspora presence, while increasing the sustainability of remittance inflows,” it says.
    Giving policy guidelines, the policy says that “economy and trade (should) ensure a prosperous and growth-oriented Pakistan that is economically vibrant and a major partner in the global economy through trade, investment, and connectivity initiatives.”
    It says the major policy objective should be to promote economic policies to join the ranks of upper middle income countries by focusing on enhanced productivity, investment, and savings, addressing the external imbalance, and astute fiscal management.
    “Channelise Pakistan’s geo-economic location for trade and connectivity. Prioritise equitable development initiatives that focus on uplifting our most vulnerable citizens and our least developed areas,” according to the policy. PTI SH RUP RUP

(This story has not been edited by THE WEEK and is auto-generated from PTI)