By excluding stakeholders, the government undermined our national security policy – The Friday Times


The much-talked-about Bajwa Doctrine was a crucial step in developing Pakistan’s security mindset, and it attempted to suggest a paradigm shift in how Pakistan is placed in international politics. , initiated by the famous rationalist and logic Gen Qamar Bajwa and his team. of the highest military command. Security leaders shared their assessment with political leaders for policy formulation and expected the government to initiate a change management process with a holistic view. As a result, the government led by Prime Minister Imran Khan and his cabinet mandated the National Security Division (NSD) led by Dr. Moeed Yousuf to rewrite the national policy framework with the help of relevant ministries and entities. The task required demonstrating that the state, government and society as a whole are on the same page. After this process, the redacted version was released. Since its public release, the content, process and approach to national security policy-making have generated discussion and criticism from a wide segment of political and intellectual circles. To some, from a distance at least, it seems that the methodology, process design and launch of the national security policy unilaterally executed an existing security doctrine and negated a chance for Pakistan to be ready for geopolitical trends. of today.

At present, government leaders and government-organized intellectuals argue that the policy is citizen-centric and focuses on the safety of ordinary Pakistanis. However, surprisingly, citizens, public representatives and other stakeholders such as academia, civil society and the media were left out of the consultation and drafting process. The analysis presented in the Bajwa Doctrine was a seismic change requiring a responsible attitude on the part of political leaders and the National Security Division (NSD). It is unfortunate that an opportunity was not only missed, but likely blocked any discussion of the future policy reset.

Indonesia’s journey in the post-President Suharto era is an inspiring example where that country, led by President Habibi and then President Abdul Rahman Waheed, took a transformative approach to “Million Friends and Zero Enemies”. As a result, Indonesia successfully managed long-standing internal issues such as the conflict in Aceh and East Timor and reset its global standing through its normalization policy. As a result, Indonesian political, security and social leaders have taken ownership of the process of national and international transformation and have remained firmly behind the complex task of managing change and transition.

Many countries, including Indonesia, South Africa and the United States, have used pre-dialogues, as well as training or capacity-building activities to ensure that all parties understand the concepts and approaches, and develop a common language around issues critical to understanding each other. better

So far, the journey has not been without challenges and obstacles. However, this was made possible by responsible and trustworthy leaders who succeeded in securing a new place for Indonesia and improving its international position. Although the original leaders are long gone, their legacy lives on with the strategic framework firmly in place. The largest Muslim democracy in the world, Indonesia, plays an important role in peace within the Muslim world. It is considered a reliable actor within the United Nations system and at the regional level within ASEAN. Indonesia’s credibility allows it to host several high-level forums such as the Bali Democracy Forum, an annual intergovernmental forum on democracy development in the Asia-Pacific region. Furthermore, he generously shares his experience and knowledge through the Institute for Peace and Democracy. He was a leader of the ASEAN Intergovernmental Commission on Human Rights and the ASEAN Peace Institute. Indonesia’s role in conflict management fostering interfaith dialogues in the region and beyond is well known and respected today, due to its consistent and values-based leadership.

Indonesia did not embrace a paradigm shift overnight – it adopted a step-by-step, process-based approach with milestones regularly assessed to match internal and external factors. Indonesian leaders acted responsibly, managed their stance against international pressure and assured the world and citizens that the policy was going nowhere. For theoretical purposes, it can be assumed that after the departure of President Suharto, President Habibi had less international legitimacy and faced strong pressure from outside actors. However, the balancing act resulted in worldwide recognition that President Habibi is the father of democracy in Indonesia. When political leaders enjoyed increased legitimacy globally, the emphasis had been on guiding stakeholders at the national level to entrench security for all citizens. More recently, after twenty years of adopting the “Million Friends Zero Enemies” policy, President Jakowi launched a national orientation program in 2019.

What do we learn from Indonesia in the case of Pakistan in particular?

When designing a process, the mandate holder should remember that their primary role is to bring parties together and should be prepared to work in an environment where internal and external actors have significant influence due to their historical engagement. . Therefore, work must start by listening to stakeholders, to understand the climate and ensure that decision-making stays with them for shared ownership. A critical choice is to adopt a comprehensive or incremental approach. For Pakistan, as for Indonesia, a phased approach might have been better suited to this complex challenge. Furthermore, the use of a “framework approach” for various segments of the process would have been crucial to ensure an acceptable and essentially feasible policy.

Many countries, including Indonesia, South Africa and the United States, have used pre-dialogues, as well as training or capacity-building activities to ensure that all parties understand the concepts and approaches, and develop a common language around issues critical to understanding each other. better. Indonesia has established intergovernmental forums and bilateral cooperation to develop standards, while keeping a careful eye on its national sensitivities. For Pakistan’s National Security Division (NSD), a responsible approach could have been to build the drafting process with previous attempts, as experience has a greater impact on positions. While building on the context, the assignee should have made an effort to learn and share comparative knowledge from similar contexts and be inspired to design a challenge-specific process.

By conducting a selective, consultative and secretive editorial process, the NSD is solely responsible for the lack of legitimacy and the mounting of suspicion. Instead, the NSD should have used comparative experience and considered ways to balance the asymmetry of knowledge and power between stakeholders and adopt effective measures to mitigate it.

Participation, in terms of who is allowed to participate in dialogues or the consultation process, has a profound impact on legitimacy and buy-in to the final product. Dialogues and meaningful participation are essential to ensure buy-in from stakeholders in a complex political process, such as the development of a national security policy. However, the deteriorated relationships and prevailing mistrust between stakeholders require a solid methodology, systematic outreach and dialogue, and a gradual process and preferably through a mandate holder with no baggage.

Partnerships should be formed with formal and informal structures such as parliamentary committees, public universities, NGOs, global entities and multilateral institutions to bring legitimacy and acceptability. Given the political complexity, collaboration on the objectives, agenda and desired outcomes of the consultation is essential. In this model, partnerships are reviewed over time to ensure that the objectives still reflect the needs of all parties involved.


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