Published On: Sat, Dec 21st, 2013
Published in Category: Islamabad

National security conference calls for political stability and strong economy.

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ISLAMABAD: Former defence secretary Lt Gen Khalid Naeem Lodhi, Friday, expressed fear that low intensity conflict could continue in the country in near future. He was speaking at the concluding session of the two day conference on ‘Matrix of Regional and National Security in South Asia and Its Post-2014 Dynamics’ that had been jointly hosted by Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) and German Foundation Konrad Adenauer Stiftung (KAS).

During the Conference, thought leaders from different segments of the society deliberated on the changing regional scenario and assessed the conventional and non-conventional threats to the country. The conference concluded with the observation that that political stability and economic strength constituted the key to the solution of national security problems.

The current phase of the low intensity conflict in the country, Gen Lodhi said, was being covertly driven by ‘external players’. The former defence secretary said chances of a major conventional clash with any of the neighbours were remote despite continuation of threat.

Gen Lodhi cautioned that lack of economic progress; failing education and health services; religious and sectarian strife; and political instability in the country posed a bigger threat. He said that the conventional threats to the country have to be seen in the context of political weaknesses, diplomatic failures, international isolation, and absence of positive foreign stakes in the country, economic woes and a diluted deterrence capability.

Dr. Ashfaque H. Khan, dean School of Social Sciences and Humanities, National University of Sciences & Technology, while discussing the linkages between economy and national security, said stronger economy would ensure stronger defence, while a poor economy would lead to violence, social conflicts and political turmoil.

Dr Khan said challenges to the economy were serious, but not insurmountable. He said economic turnaround could be achieved in three years provided the government got out of ‘apna aadmi (our man)’ culture for ensuring financial discipline.

He said that the IMF program signed by this government was full of faults and would do more harm than good to the country. He also sounded sceptical about the youth loan scheme announced by the government.

Journalist Farhan Bokhari speaking on the role of media said media was operating within a weak regulatory framework and it remained to be seen how the media handles this new found freedom without compromising public interest.

Dr Shabana Fayyaz suggested a strategic rethinking of the country’s counterinsurgency approach and adoption of a holistic approach that includes strategic, political and social developmental components for addressing the issue of militancy in the country. Dr Daniel Flaschenberg in his presentation on ‘Regional and International Security Policy Architectures’ said he did not expect much to change after 2014 drawdown of international forces from Afghanistan. The regional balance, he said, would also remain unchanged.

Pakistan’s strategy in this scenario, he said, should be to avoid turning Afghanistan into a chessboard for its national security interests. He called for resumption of Pakistan-India talks and proposed that as a starting point the two countries should begin dialogue on strategically inconsequential matters to build confidence instead of remaining bogged down in bigger issues that are difficult to resolve.
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