Non-traditional security (NTS) threats are the challenges to the survival and well being of people and states that arise primary out of non-military sources. After the advent of nuclear technology, formation of nation states, development of international laws and expanding of economic cooperation among states in 20th and 21th century, the direct military confrontation took a back seat and new types of security challenges started to flourish that were named as non-traditional security threats. Although, these security threats are non-military in nature, they have potential to damage any country more than a military confrontation.
The following are the major non-traditional security threats faced by Pakistan
- Climate change:
Climate change is among the most serious security threat faced by Pakistan that has potential to completely collapse the country. Anatol Lieven writes in his book, “Pakistan A Hard Country” “what is certainly true is that if floods and other ecological disasters on this scale (flood of 2010 in Pakistan) become regular events as a result of climate change, then Pakistan will be destroyed as a state and an organized society.” Pakistan is the 7th most vulnerable country to climate change, although, it stands at 135 among the countries contributing to the global carbon emission. As such, climate change acts as a major non-traditional security threat to Pakistan.
- Water crisis:
Another serious non-traditional security threat confronted by Pakistan is water crisis. Pakistan is an agrarian country and its economy and livelihood many people mostly depends on agriculture. It contributes 18.5 per cent to country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), employs 38.5 per cent people to national labour force and is total 70 per cent of the export. The existing agriculture of Pakistan is because of Indus River. Its reliance on a single river system makes its water security highly risky. God forbids, if the water of the river depletes owing to any factor, it will led to the economic collapse of Pakistan. Besides, agriculture of Sindh province is largely 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. Many experts have predicted that Pakistan will face serious water crisis in near future owing to climate change. Thus, water crisis is the biggest threat to the survival of Pakistan.
- Poor economic status of Pakistan:
Pakistan’s poor economic position is the most immediate and pressing threat to the survival of the country. At present, the country does not have enough money collected from taxes to fulfill its expenditure. As a result, it is pushed to take loans every year from the international donors to fulfill its expenditure. All efforts to put the economy in the right direction have reduced to the ashes. The foreign debt and debt servicing are keep accumulating. So far, the total external debt and liabilities have reached around $ 106.8 billion, according to the State Bank of Pakistan. The total debt servicing of Pakistan, as mentioned in recently concluded federal budget for 2021, stands at Rs 2946 billion. These both figures are increasing at an alarming pace every year and all the efforts of economist have failed to keep them in strict check. Thus, a time is not far away, if the present economic position of the country prevails, when Pakistan will be declared bankrupt once its foreign debt reaches half its total GDP. Hence, the poor economic status of Pakistan will contribute to its economic collapse in future. Thus, the weak economic position of Pakistan can be listed as a serious non-traditional security threat faced by Pakistan.
- Youth bulge and unemployment:
Another major non-traditional security threats are youth bulge and unemployment in Pakistan. Normally, the higher population of youth is perceived as a window of opportunity for speeding up economic development. However, in Pakistan, the same population can cause social and political instability. A youth bulge is dividend if an economy has potential to absorb its capacity. It becomes liabilities if an economic growth rate is sluggish and employment opportunities are limited. In the case of Pakistan where GDP growth rate has reached in negative figure and unemployment is at peak, the youth bulge will contribute to chaos and instability in the country and finally led it to anarchy. Around 3 million unemployed youth are entering in the market every year and Pakistan needs at least 9 per cent GDP growth rate to adjust the unemployed youth, which is nearly impossible. Hence, the experts consider the youth bulge and unemployment among the serious threats encountered by the country.
- Population growth rate:
The most daunting threat for Pakistan is the unchecked population growth rate. In 1951, Pakistan’s population was around 34 million. It increased to approximately 131 million in 1998 census. Today, it has risen to a staggering 208 million with an anticipated projection of 400m by 2040. With the dwindling resources, the unchecked population growth will become our biggest enemy and thwart progress. Hence, it is not wrong to say that the population growth rate acts as an impediment to the well being of the people.
- Cyber attacks:
Pakistan has developed enough physical security to protect its nuclear weapons, but it is the most vulnerable to cyber attacks, which are declared as new types of warfare. Pakistan’s banks were already attacked in 2018 when hackers stole around Rs 2.6 million via Debit card of Bank Islami. Pakistan’s sensitive and confidential governmental records are at the risk of being stolen by cyber attacks that could cause a major damage. Thus, it is imperative for the administration to adopt protective measures to counter the cyber attacks
Thus, the major non-traditional security threats faced by Pakistan are climate change, water crisis, weak economic position of Pakistan, youth bulge, unemployment, rising population and cyber attacks among others. Pakistan, now, needs to divert its attention from traditional security to protect the country from the most serious threats of 21st century that are totally non-military in nature.