Governance and State Security

Governance and State Security
Ensuring state security and effective governance are two interrelated factors critical to the stability and progress of any nation. In Pakistan, a country with a complex security landscape and historical challenges in governance, striking a balance between the two has been a persistent endeavor. Over the years, Pakistan has faced a complex security landscape characterized by terrorism, regional tensions, geopolitical complexities, and internal political instability. State security involves the protection of a country's sovereignty, territorial integrity, citizens, and institutions from internal and external threats. Governance, on the other hand, encompasses the mechanisms and structures through which a country is governed, including its political, economic, social, and security systems.

Pakistan's security landscape has been a subject of constant concern due to various internal and external threats while its democratic journey has been tumultuous. The recent surge in terrorist attacks across the country has once again raised questions about the state’s overall security while the challenges of governance deepen as the government battles for control, legitimacy, and upcoming elections.

Despite numerous large and small-scale military operations, terrorism remains one of the most formidable challenges to state security in Pakistan today. Terrorism has been a tenacious challenge for Pakistan, emanating from both domestic and external sources. This year alone has seen a rise in terrorist attacks claimed by TTP, BLA, and their associated groups in different parts of the country. Combined, these militant groups have orchestrated deadly attacks across the country, targeting mostly security forces, and vital infrastructure. The presence of insurgent movements along our western border with Afghanistan remains active, with shadow assistance from across the border, which has been allowing militants to move freely and supplying them with weapons left behind by allied forces, further complicating our security measures.

In Balochistan, terrorist groups have been using female suicide bombers to target convoys of security forces while frequently targeting checkpoints and military compounds. The country has witnessed a surge in terrorist attacks whenever internal political stability has been at its weakest. Terrorist groups take advantage of the country’s attention and resources that are diverted to tackling governance transfers, creating a serious security lapse.

However, a stable government is better equipped to address security challenges and respond to threats with confidence and composure, earning public trust and support in the process. The allocation of resources, including budgets for security and defense, is heavily influenced by governance decisions. Adequate funding and careful allocation of resources to security agencies are essential for ensuring the protection of the nation at this given time.

Effective governance involves the formulation of policies and strategies to address various challenges, including security threats. Effective security policies and seamless coordination between relevant agencies are pivotal to protecting the state. This means that our threats need a security and governance-driven approach to counter them. An adequate-functioning governance system not only provides the groundwork for effective security measures, but also ensures the protection of governance institutions and the rule of law. The National Action Plan came as a reaction to the APS attack, but to tackle terrorism, Pakistan needs a practical, solution-driven, and preemptive policy encompassing the new trends of terrorism and its soft spots. Good governance practices can prevent internal conflicts, deescalate differences within the provinces; particularly in Balochistan and the tribal areas and address underlying grievances, reducing the likelihood of security threats arising from within the country.

Addressing social, developmental, and political issues through peaceful means can contribute to a more secure and harmonious nation. Additionally, the quality of governance at home directly affects a country's ability to engage in diplomatic efforts and form alliances with other nations. Strong international alliances and diplomatic relations can enhance collective security against shared threats in the region while complementing the country’s economic security and development.

However, the state’s security is a combined responsibility of the state’s governing institutions and the security apparatus. Maintaining a delicate balance between civilian and military institutions’ understanding of the security threats is hereby crucial for a stable and secure country. Governance serves as the foundation of developing and implementing effective counterterrorism and crime prevention strategies while it is the task of the security apparatus to ensure its implementation and issuance of the required resources and operations to strengthen the security environment. The focus on kinetic military actions against terrorist groups without addressing governance and conceptual issues between civil and military institutions has proven to be less effective. Though the role of Pakistan’s National Counter Terrorism Authority has been commendable, the authority has become ineffective in providing actionable strategies that law enforcement agencies can incorporate into their workings due to the lack of supportive resources required for the task. This not only highlights issues with governance but also underscores the gap between policymakers and the implementers on the ground. This impedes Pakistan’s counterterrorism gains made over the years as hardcore terrorists refuse to surrender and accept the writ of the state.

In Pakistan’s case, state security has become synonymous with its military, which also undermines the presence and the role of the local law enforcement and governing agencies. It is the cooperation between state governing institutions and the security apparatus that is vital for ensuring the security and stability of a country. A well-coordinated and balanced approach, where governance institutions set the basic framework for counterterrorism and crime prevention strategies, and the security apparatus effectively implements them, is essential. This also means we need to reconsider our definition of terrorism and terrorist.

Hence, bridging the gap between policymakers and implementers is crucial to streamline security efforts and safeguard the nation effectively. It is only through a collaborative and cohesive approach can a nation forge a path toward lasting security and prosperity.

Aisha Saeed is an independent media and foreign policy analyst.