November 2016

By | Economy | Published 8 years ago


Comprehensive National Power (CNP) is a measure used for determining a country’s relative overall power ranking in the world. The measure takes into account both military factors (known as hard power) and economic and cultural factors (known as soft power). It is calculated numerically by combining various quantitative indices, like a country’s military strength, the state of the economy, the state of its citizens’ health, the rate of literacy, the state of other social and physical infrastructure etc., to create a single number that would reflect the real power of a nation state as opposed to its strength reflected only in its military prowess. The CNP gives more weight to the economic and social aspects of national security over the purely militaristic ones.

This measure was first adopted by China. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, China realised that the views of professional economists were an essential input required to shape strategic foreign policy choices.

Pakistani masked tribesmen patrol with their weapons in a mountain area of Wana, in the South Waziristan tribal territory bordering Afghanistan, 04 April 2007. Forty-four Uzbek and Chechen Islamic rebels were killed 04 April along with seven tribesmen in heavy rocket and mortar clashes in the mountainous South Waziristan region bordering Afghanistan. Pakistani tribesmen beating war drums launched their biggest assault yet against foreign Al-Qaeda militants in a border region after weeks of fighting that have left 250 people dead. Islamabad says the offensive by about 1,000 conservative local tribesmen will cut cross-border attacks in Afghanistan, and shows the success of a peace deal in the lawless South Waziristan region that was criticised by the West. AFP PHOTO/S.K KHAN

Pakistani masked tribesmen patrol with their weapons in a mountain area of Wana

Even earlier, the seminal work of Thomas C. Schelling, Nobel Prize-winner (2005) in economics, on strategy of conflict and the ‘nuclear game’ took economics beyond the more mundane pre-occupation with the economics of war and national security that grabbed the attention of many western economists during and after the Second World War. John Maynard Keynes and Nicholas Kaldor in Britain, and John Kenneth Galbraith and Charles P. Kindleberger in the United States, were intensely engaged, as professional economists, in studying the financial aspects of war and its economic consequences. Galbraith and Kindleberger were, in fact, on the staff of the US Office of Strategic Services during the war. Professional economists continue to be hired by both the US Defence and State Departments and by the British and Commonwealth Office.

The globalisation process has turned the world into an increasingly interdependent entity. No nation state or country can now claim to be absolutely sovereign, in both the socio-economic and/or military sense. However, without an irreducible minimum sovereignty over its economy and culture as well as its military prowess, no country can escape being turned into a subservient state fated to trade its independence for survival. Such nations find themselves constantly threatened by the fate that the nuclear-armed Soviet Union had to face in the Cold War days.

As globalisation is firstly an economic process, it is understandable that security has shifted from the military to the economy. Economic security takes into account the new risks occurring from the combination of globalised competition and the incredible new role of information, for example threats on data, attacks on public research centres, attacks from financial predators against state currencies (as in the UK by George Soros in 1992, at a time when capacities of information were even less developed), stock market manipulation, short selling exports to damage competitors in the world market etc. Globalisation has produced a redefinition of economic security in light of the risks posed by cross-border networks of non-state actors and by the economic volatility of the new global environment.

The inclusion of economic factors and soft power measures within most CNP indices is intended to prevent countries from making the mistake of the Soviet Union in overinvesting in the military at the expense of the civilian economy. The CNP index uses critical mass, economic capacity and military capacity. Due to its indicators, it is often repeatable and easy to define, making it comparable to the Human Development Index in understanding and reliability.

Some Chinese scholars tried to gain a deeper understanding of the ‘rise of China’ phenomenon and China’s global standing by developing the CNP to assess China’s national power vis-a-vis other major powers, particularly the U.S.; India is also said to be developing its own CNP. A new book titled Comprehensive National Power — A Model for India, which is a project of the United Service Institution of India, explains how CNP is calculated and also shows various methods of calculating with tables, charts and diagrams.

Since Pakistan borders both China and India and also nurses a passionate desire to safeguard an irreducible minimum of its sovereignty in this interdependent and globalised world, one would have taken it as a given that by now policy-makers and geo-strategists would have developed its CNP index.

The biggest threat that our economic security faces, and which in turn has the potential to seriously undermine our CNP index, is the shortage of energy resources. Energy consumption in this day and age generally indicates a nation’s level of industrialisation, productivity and standards of living.

National security without economic security is, indeed, a meaningless proposition. Economic security means ensuring, at the very least, water, food and energy security. Countries that have tried to ensure national security by piling up conventional and non-conventional arms and raising highly professional armies to the total neglect of economic security have only ended up like the defunct Soviet Union — wiped out from the face of the earth.

Also, countries that have tried to equate national security with the vested interests of a particular political party, government, institution or individual to the total neglect of the vital interests of the state and its people, too have ended up undermining their own sovereignty and pawning off the future and the fate of their nations to a regional or global bully.

Nations that become pawns of such bullies end up creating tiny islands of super prosperity benefiting no more than a minuscule minority of the population, while the rest of the teeming millions go shirtless, wallowing in a sea of abject poverty.

And these very shirtless millions become easy targets for exploitation by outside interests aiming to destroy Pakistan from the inside or by religious fanatics hell-bent on imposing their own distorted version of faith on the unfed and unlettered populace.

Only those who have never been touched by the insulting agony of poverty would expect these teeming millions to behave like super patriots safeguarding the interests of the nation and the state in the face of lucrative temptations.

One only has to look at the rate at which Pakistanis — educated, skilled and unskilled — are trying to abandon their homeland and go out in search of greener pastures, often risking their very lives, to understand the true measure of the sense of belonging these millions feel for their country.

It is only when a nation makes sincere efforts to bring within the reach of every one of its citizens affordable education, health cover, housing, transport and affordable telecom facilities that one can expect them to feel for the state in which they live and be prepared to die to safeguard the state’s independence and sovereignty.

A nuclear-armed country does not have to fear threats of external aggression. No one, not even another nuclear-armed country, would dare to attack a nuclear-armed Pakistan.  But both  religious fanatics and foreign agents can destroy a nuclear-armed country from the inside if patriotism is inculcated into the poverty-stricken population through fantasy and fiction termed as national history and heritage.

More than outside intervention, Pakistan today is being threatened by a distorted ideology  presented to the illiterate masses as the only true version of religion. This ideology was first injected into the national psyche by the US when, in order to finish their arch enemy — the Soviet Union — in Afghanistan, Washington introduced to a compliant world of Islam a distorted version of ‘jihad’ in the early 1980s.

Today, Pakistan has become the hub of this version of ‘jihad’. Some jihadi groups are fighting the very armed forces of Pakistan that were their mentors and trainers in the days of the first Afghan war. The aim of these jihadi groups is to take over the country itself. Other groups are waging their jihad from Pakistan to take over entire countries in the neighbourhood.

The nation is beholden to the armed forces for launching Zarb-e-Azb against the group of jihadis threatening to take over the country and attacking security installations. But for Zarb-e-Azb, Pakistan too would have become a battleground similar to the ones in Iraq and Syria.

It is necessary, therefore, for state institutions, both security and civil, to sit together at the earliest and draw up a fail-safe policy to get rid of all jihadi groups operating within and from inside the country, no matter for what purpose, to safeguard Pakistan and its ideology as propounded by Quaid- e-Azam, the outline of which he had presented to the Constituent Assembly in very simple words on August 11, 1947.

Meanwhile, we should guard against being rendered isolated in geo-economic terms. Unconfirmed reports are circulating in the region that by heavily subsidising its textile, leather and surgical exports, India is inching towards capturing Pakistan’s markets for these goods, which make up nearly 90 per cent of its export earnings.

During Indian Prime Minister Modi’s recent trip to the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries and Saudi Arabia, India and other member countries are said to have entered into manpower export agreements that are likely to eat into our share of the market from which we earn as much as $15 billion annually. Kuwait is already out of bounds for our manpower export.

More seriously, the US seems to be working in tandem with India as it has started making noises about imposing economic sanctions against Pakistan. Though these voices are still very feeble, what we should be mindful of is this would be the second time we will suffer US sanctions if Washington were to carry out this threat. By early 2000, Pakistan had become perhaps the most sanctioned country after Libya. In October 1990, the US had imposed sanctions against Pakistan under the Pressler Amendment for having crossed the nuclear red-line.  Next, new sanctions were imposed under the Glenn and Symington amendments in May 1998 when we tested our basement bombs. The October 12, 1999 military takeover brought about further curbs.

Recent actions by the US make it almost impossible for Pakistan to remain unperturbed.  Washington has already refused to sell us eight F-16s at a subsidised price and blocked $300 million of the Coalition Support Fund (CSF), blaming Pakistan for not forcing the Afghan Taliban, especially the Haqqanis, out of their sanctuaries inside Pakistan.

Some responsible persons in the US are currently talking irresponsibly about declaring Pakistan a terrorism facilitator. This is not the first time that such threats have been levelled against Pakistan by the US. In 1994, President George W Bush, while waiting to receive incoming president-elect Bill Clinton, left a file declaring Pakistan a terrorist state for his successor to sign which Clinton never signed because by that time his friend Benazir Bhutto had replaced Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif in Pakistan.

If it is our economic isolation that is being contemplated by Modi, it is time to do something concrete for our economic security. In the context of politics and international relations, economic security is the ability of a nation state to follow its choice of policies to develop the national economy in the manner desired. In today’s complex system of international trade, characterised by multi-national agreements, mutual interdependence and availability of natural resources etc., economic security today forms, arguably, as important a part of national security as military policy.