Concept of security in 21st century

saddam hussain samo
Saddam Hussain Samo on concept of security in 21st century

The concept of security in 21st century is totally different from the past. Long ago, there was no electricity, Internet, electronics devices, industries, nuclear plants and so on. During that time, the core aim of the people of different tribes and empires was to protect their territories from foreign invaders. Thus, the concept of the security in ancient periods was to defend the boundaries by erecting huge physical army. It is also called traditional security. However, in the present century, where the border clashes have taken back seats owing to the creation of Nation States, International laws and introduction of nuclear bombs, the countries are, now, facing different security challenges that arise primary out of non-military sources. Therefore, the concept of security in 21st century is non-military and include: energy security, economic security, water security, cyber security, environment security, health security, food security, and community security among others. it is called non-traditional security as well. Today, states concentrate on protecting its peoples from these security challenges that are thriving in the current century.

The concept of security in 21st century is explained below in details:

Energy Security:

The most pressing stress of the leaders of almost all countries is to ensure the un-interrupted supply of energy in the form of oil, gas or electricity to its people for the smooth industrial operations. At present, the energy acts as an engine to run a country and contributes to its overall development. The most of the export in the current century is comprised of industrial manufactured goods. It is because of these industries, China is the leading exporter of the world and improving the economic conditions of its people at a relatively fast pace. To ensure the energy security, the United Sates has signed a deal with Saudi Arabia and enjoys good cordial relations with the Kingdom, although Riyadh does not follow the principles of democracy as per American standards.

The classic example of China can be cited here to further clarify the importance of energy security in 21st century. China is the industrialist country and the largest exporter of the world. However, it requires oil to run its factories. It purchases most of its oil from Saudi Arabia, which is an ally of the US. To ensure the energy security, first it initialed a program called China Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) to bypass its old traditional route that was surrounded by its rivals. In addition to this, it has agreed to invest over $400 billion in Iran’s oil and transport sector to decrease it reliance for energy on the US allies like Saudi Arabia.  Thus, the energy security is more important for the countries than military security in 21st century.

Economic Security:

The next important concept of security in 21st century is economic security. It is a responsibility of all leaders to protect the economy of their country by adopting numerous measures within the canons of International Law. This concept can be better understood in the context of on going trade war between the US and China. Trump, in order to ensure economic security of its people and country, has launched a trade war with China to shrink its trade deficit with Beijing because American have lost 40 per cent of their jobs in manufacturing sector owing to surge in cheap import from China. Besides, its trade with China has grown from $8 billion in 1986 to a whopping $576 billion in 2016 with America facing the trade deficit.

To ensure the economic protection, Trump has imposed 25 per cent tariff on imported steel and 10 per cent on imported aluminum. Besides, he has imposed anti-dumping duties on Chinese washing machines and solar panels. Moreover, he imposed 25 per cent tariff on $200 billion worth of Chines import in 2018. In 2019, he decided to raise the tariff from 25 to 30 per cent. 

From the day of independence, Pakistan focused on the military security and completely ignored the economic dimension. As a result, today, inflation has crossed 10 per cent, and foreign debt above $100 billion figure. Tax to GDP ration is paralyzed at around 12 per cent. Every year, our government runs short of money and is forced to take loans. With no economic security, the residents are facing numerous difficulties as if the country is under the situation of war. Thus, the economic security is very important.

Water Security:

Another important concept of security in 21st century is water security. There is no denying the fact that while human beings can survive centuries without democracy, but they cannot live even three days without water. The example of Sindh province in Pakistan can be highlighted here to explain the significance of water security. The agriculture of Sindh province is wholly dependent on Sukkur barrage that has already surpassed its expiry date. Once this barrage collapses, Sindh will turn into a desert and people will start to hunt one another as wild beasts for survival. Hence, it is the responsibility of Sindh government to pay heeds towards the water security in the province.

Besides, the condition of whole Pakistan regarding the water security is also abysmal. The country has completely failed to increase its water storage capacity or repair the already existing, but poor infrastructure that were revealed by 2010 floods. The Indus River is a backbone of the country that supplies water to the entire Pakistan. Without this river, Pakistan would turn into semi-desert region. According to some reports, the glaciers feeding the Indus River are fast melting and will disappear in the coming centuries. Thus, Pakistan should take water security seriously and invest in improving its conservations and efficient use.

Cyber Security:

Cyber security is the most crucial security of 21st century. Decades ago, this concept was non-existing. It developed after the advent of digital age comprised of computer and Internet. Owing to the current technology, almost all handwritten files, some secret data of government, corporation or individuals are stored online. Besides, some major plants like nuclear power plants are operated with the help of digital technology.

On the one hand, the advancement in technology has made day-to-day life easy for the people because it enables them to operate anything with ease. On the other hand, these technologies have also created some serious security challenges like threats of cyber attacks. The leaders of developed countries have successfully updated their cyber security, but the nations, having poor technological know-how are the susceptible to these attacks.

While Pakistan has developed enough nuclear weapons to deter India or other countries from launching a conventional war, it lags behind in cyber security, which needs to be improved. In 2018, Data of over 8,000 account holders of about 10 Pakistani banks was sold in a market of hackers. Bank Islami lost around Rs. 2.6 million of its customers in foreign transactions due to cyber attack. It was among the serious cyber attacks witnessed by Pakistan.

Environmental security:

The concept of environment security is brought into the limelight recently because the human activities, in particularly, the burning of oil in industries and automobiles have been contributing to the environment pollution since the industrial revolution of 1750s. Atmospheric concentration of CO2 has been increased by more than 40 per cent since pre-industrial time. Human activities are, currently, releasing over 30 billon tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year. Environmental pollution is described as change in physical, chemical and biological properties of nature by the human activities and is divided into four broad categories namely air, water, soil and noise pollution.

The environmental degradation carries severe impacts on the health of the people. It causes skin and respiratory problems, kills aquatic animals and turns rainwater acidic. It also contributes to the global warming and climate change that are the two daunting challenges of 21st century.

To ensure environmental protection, many countries are switching from non-renewable to renewable energy sources. The European countries are taking the lead and have carried out some stringent measures in these regards. The European Union has pledged to reduce carbon emission by 40 per cent till 2035. The United Kingdom (UK) has set a target to ban fuel engines cars by 2040 and is investing in the research and development of electrical vehicles as an alternative. Thus, the security from environmental pollution is among the top priorities of the countries in 21st century.

Health Security:

It is a responsibility of states to protect health of the people from deadly viruses, biological warfare and diseases caused by the aftermath of natural disasters like flooding. The COVID-19 pandemic has already exposed the poor health security of many countries including Pakistan. Some countries seemed unprepared for such a serious health challenge.

In the 21st century, the prospects of diseases have increased owing to the environmental pollution and natural disasters. For instance, Floods contaminates freshwater supplies, heighten the risk of water-borne diseases, and create breeding grounds for disease-carrying insects such as mosquitoes.  As already described, the environmental pollution also causes skin and respiratory diseases. The importance of this security has surged with the increase in environmental pollution.

Food security:

Food security is a relatively old concept. In ancient periods as well, the empires ensured to store food for the coming time. The importance of this security has been multiplied very recently keeping in view the rise of population of the world to around 7.8 billion. It is among the first priorities of the countries to ensure the enough food is available for the residents.

Taking the lenient view of this security can cause a revolution because people cannot live without it even one day. Pakistan has also taken this security seriously. For instance, it keeps a strict control on the crop of wheat and stores it in its own godowns to prevent its shortage. However, Pakistan has ignored the issue of climate change that can badly affect its food security. For example, Irregular rainfall, drought, floods and storms caused by climate change can decrease its agriculture yield. Pakistan witnessed less than an expected cotton yield last year. It was because of irregular rainfall that took place during harvest time of the crop. As a result, cotton yield witnessed a downward trajectory. Undoubtedly, it was a cash crop, but similar events can occur against the food crop.

Community security:

Providing the security to different communities living in the countries comes under this dimension of security. Although, the United States has given equal rights to black community, the recent incident of the dead of a black man, George Floyd, revealed its shortcoming in its national security policies. The citizens of the US protested under the hash tag of #blacklivesmatter to get security for the black community.

In Pakistan as well, some communiies in particularly Hazaras are the victim of sectarian violence and ethnic cleansing. This community is limited in numbers and Shia by faith. The government of Pakistan did little to ensure its protection.


Thus, the concept of security in 21st century is different from the past concept that revolved around the military. At present, energy security, economic security, water security, cyber security, environmental security, health security, food security and community security come under the concept of security in 21st century. Pakistan has achieved enough military strength and now requires focusing on these dimension of security.


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