The Security Paradigm shift & Pakistan

By Prof. Dr. Tanweer Khalid

Honorary Secretary, The Pakistan Institute of International Affairs, Karachi

Global power shifts are significant as they tend to ‘displace or restructure the existing international order generating political and strategic turbulence’. The 21 century sees power shifting to Asia while regional states in Asia are interacting to broaden their power. These shifting strategic priorities have made the world more complex.

Asia has remained dominated by European Colonists for nearly two centuries and now by the United States of America by its cumulative financial strength over the last two decades contributing to the global slight of powers towards Asia where China, India and Japan are coming up as Asia’s leading global players.

The end of US unipolar domination of world affairs, Asian powers are emerging as multiple poles in Asia’s strategic structure with Russia joining as a Eurasian power it is leading towards an unbeatable triangle. We need to understand more of geo-political, geo-economic and security dynamics of Asia because this paradigm shift has implications for South Asia in general and Pakistan in particular.

Security is an essentially contested concept with no universally accepted definition. To Pakistan the exact essence of national security cannot be realized without attaining a resilient economy because the contours of a new economic and political geography within South Asia are clearly emerging with enhanced activity among China, Pakistan, Russia, Iran, Afghanistan and Central Asian States. A new global economic order is now emerging to replace the one that existed since the end of World War II.

This is invariably complex as it depends on continuously shifting set of economic relationships. This transition already has an influence on the thinking patterns, politics, cultures and economic development in the region. This new geography is primarily driven by economic proximity rather than a security-led paradigm.

Several countries have taken progressive steps by merging trade with Foreign Policy objectives. Pakistan needs to do the same and develop medium-term economic growth goals to be owned and delivered by the highest office of the state. The twin phenomena of ‘strategic peril’ and ‘economic promise’ pose a daunting challenge to synchronize with the global transformations.

South Asian governments have been unable to meet the challenges in face of perceived external threats to their security and great power ambitions pursued through domination over others. Economic shift to Asia has profound implications for the balance of strategic power.

The security of South Asia is better thought of as a series of concentric but overlapping circles. The centre of gravity of the world economy is now Asia-Pacific hence great power interest in South Asia is not limited to Afghanistan but broadened to include its potential as a market, as a source of military power and extends to interests in its stability.

The rice of China in her guest for primacy first in Asia and then globally with a hierarchical view of an international order in the BRI (Belt Road Initiative) poses challenges to the established order of western supremacy and uncontested American primacy. Pakistan placed in the political geography of major power politics has economic and strategic implications with any change in the interests of these states.

Pakistan enjoys an all weather friendship with China and is the recipient of aid and infrastructure as an emerging developing economy. It will be an indirect part of Chinese effort of linking East Asia, Middle East, Africa and Europe by the New Silk Road. Pakistan is also an ally of the United States. In face of China becoming the largest economy in 2014 in face of purchasing power, the fastest growing G-20 economy, the world’s largest exporter with an enormous leverage in influencing trade networks, the US will find it increasingly difficult to region its position of global economic dominance.

China and Pakistan have long been sharing strong political, cultural and economic relations amplifying their engagement to secure their respective interests within and outside the region. Sino-Pakistan link is being eyed by India as being focused against it but there is also the Indo-US strategic partnership being viewed by China as a close tilt towards the US particularly after the signing of the civil nuclear deal in 2005.

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