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Security challenges to Pakistan

By Wajid Hussain
NS threatThe first duty of a government is to maintain law and order, so that the life, property and religious beliefs of its subjects are fully protected by the state” Quaid e Azam Muhmmad Ali Jinnah [1]

The pivotal concern of Pakistan’s national life is security, both internal and external i.e. country’s defense from hostile forces from within and without. Pakistan is facing extensive challenges to its security which have direct linkages to external threats. The vulnerable security of any state is a sweet dish for major key players of international politics as well as for reginional players to secure their interests.  Nevertheless, rise of terrorism in the aftermath of American attack on Afghanistan in October 2001 has worsened the security situation of the county to an unprecedented degree. Mover over it has brought a lot of foreign influence in the region but especially in Pakistan because Pakistan has a special geo-stragtic location in the region.

Pakistan’s security challenges can be categorized in tradinational challenges and non tradinitional challenges.

As for as traditional challenges are concerned, terrorism remain to be the primary threat to the internal security of Pakistan. However, crimes do have a strong nexus. Drug cartels, criminal gangs have joined hands with terrorists for economic gains. Terrorism and crime are the main challenges with hosts of threats enablers and multipliers as given below.

  • Tribalism and feudalism
  • Political expediencies
  • Weak governce
  • Extremism
  • Sectarianism
  • Weaponiztam [2]

These tradinaltional threats have peculiar manifestation in various regions of Pakistan. It may be noticed that the main players involved in the internal security environment are polity, clergy, militants, feudal elite, tribal chieftains and criminal mafias. Foreign players are virtually a rider clause in each case.

One of the most vital region in witch these activates are carried out is Federally Administered Tribal Areas (FATA). It is the chief boiling point and a source of terrorism in the country. It not only promotes terrorism in different parts of the country but also a safe heaven for theorists and criminal gangs. The terrorists of this region are continuously challenging the authority of the government. Tehrike-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) is the chief organization which is operating in these areas and moreover is a composition of twenty eight different groups.[3]

Along with the transnationalist TTP, the evidence of foreign player’s intervention in the region has been noticed various times.[4] The modern weapons and training of these high profile terrorists shows the participation of foreign players in Pakistani areas.

About 4000 people had been killed in 2012 among which 600 were security personnel and remaining were civilians[5].  Terrorists attacked 1485 times on security forces and the security forces arrested 1138 terrorists during 2012. [6]

The above facts and figures show the vide range activities of terrorists in all the parts of the country and chiefly in tribal areas.

On the other hand another region is Balochistan in which the terrorist’s activities are carried out. This region has different dynamics of militancy. In Balochistan, militant groups with some 159 training camps in various areas of the province (40 are supported by Indian Raw) housing some 2000 to 5000 guerrillas who are operating hundreds of militant acts[7]. These groups are not only targeting security forces but also destroying state assets. Militancy in Balochistan is clearly supported by abroad. Hosts of foreign players are supporting unrest in the province due to its resources and geo strategic location. Raw is certainly playing negative role in Balochistan. It is important to note that former Indian Raw agent B Raman in his report to Sonia Gandhi in 2009 had written, “The Balochs have stood by Mahatama Gandhi and Congress party during the independence struggle against the British. They had opposed the partition of India and creation of Pakistan. If India had to be partitioned, they would have preferred an independent Balochistan. The Bolochs were the closes to Gandhi’s heart. Due to reasons of realpolitik, we let them down during their first war of independence. The same realpolitik would dictate painful inaction by us now too. But that does not mean we should hesitate to draw the attention of the international community to the ruthless massacre of the Boloch nationalists by the Pakistan army. We owe our moral support to them. The struggle for an independent Balochistan is part of the unfinished agenda of the partition. [8]

This was the statement of a former Indian Raw agent but on the other hand Wahid Baloch, president of Baloch society of North America, in a statement said,

“We love our Indian friends and want them to help and rescue us from tyranny and oppression. In fact, India is the only country which has shown concern over the Baloch plight. We want India to take Balochistan issue to every international forum, the same way Pakistan has done to raise the so-called Kashmir issue. We want India to openly support our just cause and provide us with all moral, financial, military and diplomatic support.”[9]

This clearly shows the Indian hand in terrorism in Pakistan. Some scholars also referred to an undeclared proxy war between Iran and Saudi Arabia in the province of Baluchistan[10]. Baluchistan poses a serious threat to national security, sovereignty and integrity of Pakistan.

Beside these two regions Karachi the economic hub of Pakistan is facing numerous tides of instability. But Karachi has different dynamics of instability as compared to FATA and Balochistan. Vital security issues in Karachi are street crimes, car snatching, burglary, kidnapping and the most critical target killing. Each act of crime is lamentable and can not be endorsed. Certainly more than the crimes, it is processional religiosity and dirty politics (political mafias) which are responsible for the miserable plight of Quaid’s city. Different political parties are involved in this dirty game. These political parties are occupied in different areas of the city. They are involved in killing the opposite members of their rival panty. They collect money by using force in their dominated areas. This situation has a worse impact upon the economy of the country because the city generates the lion share of 67% for the national exchequer and 35% of the GDP.[11]

Processions and law and order situation stops the wheel of industry and according to an estimate one day procession cost the loss of approximately three to five billion rupees. [12]

Certainly Karachi needs a different kind of treatment in internal security campaign of the country.

Beside these areas, Madrassas or religious seminaries too have a role in security related issues in Pakistan. These Madrassas are promoting extremism because these are teaching purely sect-based education which results in extremism. This extremism leads to intolerance for other sects. This adds to extremism in the society. Starting with about 189 in 1947. [13] Pakistan today has thousands of Madrassas but no one knows the exact number, estimate ranges from 12,000 to 40,000.[14]

According to government records, there are 15,148 Madrassas with more than two million students. [15]

These Madrassas have approximately 1700 foreign students, 1000 had reportedly left Pakistan.

Sectarian violence is also a serious threat to Pakistan national security. In the recent years Pakistan is facing sharp sectarian violence. This sectarian violence can be categorized into inter-faith violence and sectarian violence. The former involves against members of non Muslims faiths, particularly Ahmadis, Hindus and Christians, who along with Parsis, Sikhs and Buddhists account for fever than 4% of 180 million strong populations. [16] Sectarian violence on the other hand, unfolds between the two main sects of Islam, Shias and Sunnis, but violent incidents between the Braveli and Deobandi sub sects of Sunni Islam are also on rise. The current sectarian violence can be traced to the rise of Pakistani Taliban in the mid 2000’s. This sectarian violence certainly is the outcome or aftermath of the U.S led war against terrorism.

Sectarian violence in Pakistan mainly manifests as tit for tat target killing of rival sects. No doubt sectarian violence is the most dangerous threat to Pakistan’s national security after terrorism.


Another security thereat to Pakistan is the deployment of 700000 troops of India in Jammu and Kashmir. Indian troops withdrawal form Kashmir is vital to prevent another Indo-Pak war. The conflicts between India and Pakistan are a permanent source of threats to national security of both countries. Indian authorities have been quick to look towards Pakistan as the main cause of India’s internal security issues such as the attack in Mumbai in November 2008.[17]

On the other hand, Pakistani forces have recovered weapons of Indian origin in operations against non state actors in Baluchistan and the Swat valley, suggesting that there has been a serious attempt on the part of India to destabilize Pakistan internal security.

The ongoing US led war against terrorism in Afghanistan will also have a dramatic effect on Pakistan’s security. Will this action succeed or will it serve only to push more militants into Pakistan. [18]Pakistan is already facing a tough battle against militants in tribal areas, and greater number of militants would add to the miseries of already fragile security of Pakistan.

As for as non traditional threats are concerned, water security is the most serious challenge for Pakistan due to several factors, particularly the increasing pressure of population, massive expansion of tube well irrigation, reduced levels of precipitation cause by climate change and the melting of glaciers. [19]India is also building dames on the rivers that flow in Pakistan and thus the water level in these rivers is decreasing day by day. RaviRiver is almost draining. Some think tanks are arguing that the next possible war between India and Pakistan would be upon water issue.

With respect to Pakistan another problem in this regard is melting of its glaciers, all of which could disappear within the next thirty years.[20] For a country that is already facing water stress, this is a terrific blow.

The second major non traditional threat to Pakistan’s security is climate change. Climate change will negatively affect human activities and livelihoods in Pakistan through increasingly frequent extreme weather events and changes in temperature precipitation. A rise in extreme weather would dangerously result in number of people killed, injured or made homeless. As early discussed the large scale melting of glaciers due to rise in temperature will result in flooding, soil erosion and wasted drinking water. It will also result in a permanent water shortage and desertification. [21]

This desertification and shortage of water will further lead to another non traditional threat, the shortage of food. Only eight percent of Pakistan is permanently cropped.[22] Although agricultural sector is producing sufficient productivity but the growing rate of population and above mentioned dangers of soil erosion and water shortage will result in food shortage in future if proper attention is not paid to this issue.


[2] Ibid

[3] Ibid

[4] Ibid

[5] Jang Daily 25 February 2013

[6] Ibid



[8] Ibid

[9] Ibid

[10]Pakistan and south Asia’s security nexus: scenarios for the future. Chandirmani Sunjay, Finaud Marc, Koser Khalid


[11] Ibid

[12] Ibid

[13] Ibid

[14] Ibid

[15] Ibid

[17]Pakistan and south Asia’s security nexus: scenarios for the future. Chandirmani Sunjay, Finaud Marc, Koser Khalid

[18] [18]




[21] Ibid

[22] Ibid

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