Contemporary conflicts have increasingly involved economics as the core component of strategy. States have traditionally used economics to further their national security objectives which can range from simply accessing or denying raw material resources like crops and water to transforming these very resources into more lucrative finished products and commodities to gain greater revenues. It is a bit saddening that despite the tremendous potential in the many sectors identified by vast group of national and international institutes, Pakistan continues to cadre into the ranks of developing countries. The nation needs to realize that the global transformations have jotted geo-economics to the forefront where fire power alone will not serve as the security guarantor in international relations. It is an acknowledged fact that countries with fragile economies are more likely to resort to “appeasing actions” that they would certainly have not considered were their economies sound. As an element of national power, it is imperative on the nation to maintain viable economy to ensure a standard of living for its citizens. Robust economic power serves as a tool “to deter, compel, coerce, compete and leverage” state to state relationships to further national security objectives.
Few countries can claim to produce all goods and services. However, in an age of rapidly transforming global dynamics where forces of jingoism and nationalism are challenging the long accepted notion of globalization and free trade in favour of a more protectionist environment, energy autarky is an element that most states including China and the United States are striving for. It is believed that China has heavily invested in “One Belt and One Road” projects across the continents to address the issues encountered as a result of the “Malacca and Hormuz Dilemma”.
For countries like Pakistan which has a hefty import bill dominated by petroleum commodities needs to go for an energy autarkic approach. It is a fact that has been repeated all along the history that a nation cannot engage in protracted conflict with a weak economy. In these scenarios, government are impelled to generate “a stream of revenues” from the public and businesses that would entail sacrificing their own economic well-being. Within the government during points of crisis, the competition for resources becomes very tough that limits funding of new developmental projects. Pakistan needs to get serious to revamp the economy, there remains certain weaknesses and flaws that require immediate remedy. The country needs to realize the potentials of globalization which allows for nations to conduct businesses with allies, former enemies and potential rivals but also with geographically distant regions.
Pakistan needs to expand its trade with several countries including the immediate neighbours. The seaborne trade has the potential to increase ties with the Indian Ocean Region (IOR) countries including the members of Indian Ocean Rim Association (IORA). There is need to adopt the “comparative advantage” principles of David Ricardo which advocate that only those products maybe produced which provide for lowest-cost and most-effective producers. This would allow for greater economic growth and improved standard of living. The country needs to consider both the angles of acquiring cheap outsourced import services, which on the other side destroy domestic industries. It is added that, reliance on foreign imports can further complicate the financial and credit situation, knowing that the most-prized commodity; oil is generally imported on deferred payment basis.
National leaders can take several paths at this juncture, whereby most of government programs are fully funded by state exchequer. Leaders must therefore find new sources of federal revenues. Increased taxes have traditionally been an obvious source of resources, however it needs to be understood that they come at dire expenses of future economic growth hampering the avenues for individual and business investments. Borrowing is another short-term remedy which due to In the future, security conflicts among nations may change from predominantly military contests to ones primarily featuring other elements of national power. Global economic growth has created new power houses like China and India, whose example Pakistan must critically study and adopt.
A new ray of hope had been reignited among the masses of Pakistan, who remain to have high expectations with the government’s vision of “Naya Pakistan”. The austerity measures undertaken are unprecedented at least on paper, a fact which privately most members of opposition would agree to. Those running the helm of state affairs may be required to distinguish between “equity” and “equality,” when it comes to policy-making including levying of taxes, on segments of society, most of which fall under the lower income bracket.
Christopher Jafferlot writing in The Pakistan Paradox: Instability and Resilience concludes that the country must focus on strengthening the institutions rather than the orthodox approach practiced by preceding leadership which tended to focus more on the short-term measures rather than long-term solutions such as institutional building.