National Debt as a Threat to National Security

The national debt most of the time challenges the national security of the state, especially for developing countries like Pakistan. Political and economic instability are the main causes behind it. Imran Khan was ousted in a no-confidence vote, and the key reason for his removal from office was the political and economic instability.

Economic and political instability increases the national debt and when a country is not in a position to pay it back, it ultimately challenges its national security just like in the case of Srilanka.

Internal and external factors are important for national security, as Pakistan is now facing both of them. The national debt of Pakistan is around PKR 42.9 trillion (USD 248.7 billion) whereas its external debt is PKR 14.9 trillion (USD 86.4 billion). The Ex-Prime Minister of Pakistan, Khan published a National security policy (2022-2026). The main idea is anchoring human security to economic security. Pakistan is facing very low social-economic indicators and the NSP policy was adopted to achieve the well-being of individuals.

Politics and economics are unified with each other, Pakistan is a very good example of it, especially in 1950, and even after the independence, the economic condition of Pakistan was not good, the government at that time didn’t have enough money which they could spend on common people and this led towards endless political clash in Pakistan.

On the other hand at that time India had a more stabilized economy than Pakistan and was well supported by the Western powers. After the independence, Pakistan had two options, one was to join USSR and the other was to join the American block, America was a much more stable and leading world economy so Pakistan without a second thought joined the American block.
On November 23, 2016, approximately 172 largest tax non-payers got waived off, each of their loans worth over 50 million including all politicians, agriculturists, businessmen, and retired generals.

Each year foreign debt rises and the main reason for the increase in these debts is the political interests of our establishment and politicians. The former military ruler Pervez Musharraf and state-owned banks wrote off 80% of loans which were mainly funded by America because both sides had their own interests since Pakistan wanted to gain more economic interests while America had security interests.

This way America made Pakistan stay indebted and challenged its national security. Economic and Political shakiness leads to the National security threat.

The total debt and liabilities of Pakistan have crossed up to 50 trillion in Pakistani rupees and PKR 20.7 trillion under the Ex-government of Pakistan till November 2021, a total increase of 70% total debt of the country that’s why Khan mentioned this debt as a National Security issue. State Bank of Pakistan issued Pakistan Debt and Liabilities, Government Domestic debt 28,076.3, Government external debt 14,918.6Debt from IMF 1,371.0, External Liabilities 2,116.3, Private sector External debt 3,134.0, Total debt and liabilities of 53,544.3 (billion rupees)
Most of the taxes were collected to pay the debt, and because of these debts, Pakistan’s national security was very much compromised as the Pakistani economy was controlled under the policies of IMF, World Bank, and other Multinational institutions.

The public suffered most from their policies as it raised prices of commodities, and mainly the price was higher of those products which are most commonly used, people had no choice but to buy those products, as we witnessed a rise in the inflation rate, employment very much increased especially for the young generation, Pakistan’s total foreign debt climbed up to 23 billion dollars for the budget of 2022-23 as repayment of commercial loans and a major amount of 6 billion dollars out of the total obligation.

Pakistan’s economy is now very much dependent on China which is mostly based on CPEC, there is a fear that the neo-colonial approach of China as it invests heavily in developing countries, and when they are not able to pay back, China takes control of their ports and natural resources just like they did with Srilanka’s port of Hambanthota and this also challenged the national security both military and non-military.

Due to alterations in the governments of Federal and Punjab, the concept of separation of power was disturbed, and institutions of state challenged each other, Establishment got involved in state politics which not only disturbed the political and social environment but it also destabilized the economy of Pakistan.

To go further into debt the very first step is to sustain the separation of power. Pakistan’s national debt rises which creates economic instability, and then it becomes the main reason for regime change or governmental change in Pakistan, separation of power is the main reason of all problems, especially the debt crisis which Pakistan is facing now. Judiciary, Executive body and legislature should realize and know their limits, there is no point that the head of the Army gives economic and political advices, Chief Justice has no right for surprise visits in hospitals or to collect dam funds, and Pakistani institutions sould keep one thing in mind that legislation is the supreme power, the legislature should realize that political stability should exist within the institutions.
Provinces should agree to cut down their NFC awards to support the generation of more revenue for the federal government so that the government can depend less on foreign institutions.

It may help the federal government to pay back the debt from national and international institutions. To solve this national security issue first is to maintain the political stability in the country, political parties should be united for the economic and social welfare and they should avoid any political decision which may affect the agreement with IMF as we witnessed the political instability in March and April 2022. Political parties should be united otherwise our national security remains in danger.

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