The Islamabad Institute of Conflict Resolution (IICR), Islamabad organized a Seminar on May 5, 2014, in collaboration with Department of International Relations, Kinnaird College for Women, Lahore titled Security Threats and Challenges to Pakistan: A Way Forward. The eminent speakers were Ms. Amina Khan, Research Fellow, Institute of Strategic Studies, Islamabad and Mr. Faisal Islam, practicing lawyer and the Managing Partner of the Firm, Faisal & Partners. Ms Arifa Kayani, Head of Department International Relations welcomed the guests.
Ms. Sabah Aslam, Executive Director, Islamabad Institute of Conflict Resolution (IICR), in her opening remarks said that the main agenda of the seminar is to critically scrutinize the current and future security threats to Pakistan. Strengthening Pakistan’s internal and external position to tackle these problems is a central theme to generate new ideas to achieve peace and stability in Pakistan.
She said that the war on terror, the non-state actors, Taliban issue, terrorism, small arms proliferation and many other relating problems all have severe impacts on the economy of Pakistan. These challenges are not only threatening peace and stability of Pakistan but also hindering economic growth.
Further Ms. Aslam said that a pragmatic approach is required to deal with these issues; it is never too late, the leadership, and the policy makers still can do for the betterment of Pakistan by adopting and devising of such policies against all these threats with
practical implementations. The youth of Pakistan is today’s Pakistan; they should realize their role and can contribute in the transformation of Pakistan.
Mr. Faisal Islam said that today Pakistan is trapped in a lot of problems and facing a lot of challenges. He said that the root causes of all that is very much internal vulnerabilities. Lack of education is the biggest cause of almost all the problems. He said that we do not have proper education system; there are three different types of education system running in our country. We are creating classes among our people. How it is possible to bring them all on the same minimum level, and that minimum level is that we should adopt one education system and all should be proud of that. The class approach has to be change. Security threats and challenges faced by Pakistan today are due to weak societal setup. Democracy needs to be strengthened in our country.
Ms. Amina Khan explained the eminent security threats and challenges to Pakistan, both internal and external, and Pakistan’s first national security policy. She said that increasingly complex external environment and internal precarious dynamics have created a lot of security challenges that are complex and not easily resolvable.
Ms. Amina said that internal challenges faced by Pakistan include a fractured state and society, weak governance, weak and fragile institutions, extremism and weak economy. Pakistan faces different types of terrorism and external security challenges too such as spillover effects from Afghanistan, strained relationship with India, and uneasy relation with Iran due to Saudi Arabia’s presence, and above all drone strikes which is disturbing relations with U.S.
She said to resolve all these issue, a pragmatic and holistic approach is needed. Pakistan from last ten years is in a phase of war. Instability and insecurity in FATA, Balochistan, and Karachi is actually a threat from within. It is weakening the state from within. Terrorist groups and Taliban are again a big question for the state. So far we don’t have a policy vis-à-vis TTP. Ethnic issues, Sectarian problems, and natural disasters for instance in Balochistan, Karachi and Peshawar are also disturbing the security environment. Jundullah in Balochistan which is Iran based Sunni terrorist organization is operating in and from Balochistan. Jundullah is also posing a security threat and becoming an element of instability in the province. Moving to FATA, she said that there are a lot of issues because of which FATA become a problem. It is part of Pakistan but is treated separately; rules that govern FATA are not applicable in any other part of Pakistan. TTP is operating in FATA because of number of reasons including immense poverty, illiteracy, lack of governance, no rule of law etc. We need a policy for FATA but independent of Afghanistan. As FATA and Afghanistan both are separate and independent entities. Afghanistan is a neighbouring country with a lot of instability and FATA is part of us. Moreover, she said that Post 2014 Afghanistan would be a major issue in coming days as one of Afghan leadership and even Taliban recognizes PakAfghan border i.e. the Durand Line. Pakistan has to settle this issue. As it is a porous border and it is an eminent threat too. Cross-border movements should be controlled in order to save our country from militants’ infiltrations. Since independence Pakistan has strained relations with Afghanistan, the government should now develop some workable relations with Afghanistan especially in post withdrawal scenario. Otherwise the situation would be difficult to handle.
Furthermore, she said apart from major security challenges, growing population is also a matter of concern for Pakistan with weak economy and poor education. Illiterates go into hands of militants and became a problem for Pakistan. Government should relook into education policies. She concluded by mentioning the main tenets of Pakistan’s first security policy and need of its implementation. She said that a way forward for that are mainly improved education, national consolidation, good governance and rule of law, effective and integrated terrorism policy.
Ms. Rukhsana David, Principal, Kinnaird College for Women, Lahore concluded the seminar and signed a memorandum of understanding at the end of seminar to promote cooperation in the field of academic research between the two prestigious institutes.