Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday said that national security was more than just a matter of focusing on military might, adding that it encompassed inclusive growth as well.
“We all know our focus was on military [power] but it (national security) is actually an all-encompassing thing. You can’t have national security until there is inclusive growth,” the premier said while addressing the opening session of the Margalla Dialogue 21 with the theme “Breaking Past, Entering Future”.
He said no country could be secure where a small segment kept getting richer and those at the bottom were left behind — and the same applied to certain areas or cities developing while other parts of the country were left behind.
He explained that such inequality became the basis for discord in society, adding that whenever people protested or there was violence then it had its roots in unequal development and injustice.
“It is a very important issue of national security that how can we have equitable [and] inclusive development.”
The prime minister said a similar focus was needed on human development as well and called upon the audience to highlight the issues in Pakistan’s three-tiered education system.
He lamented that three education systems were running in parallel in the country with English-medium, Urdu-medium and religious schools. “Do we think there will be no fallout of this?” he asked.
He pointed out that English-medium schools were subject to further segmentation, while Urdu-medium schools had seen a decline in quality and there was a lack of job opportunities for students of religious schools.
Prime Minister Imran attributed the above imbalance to lack of research in the country and reliance on second-hand research from abroad. “This is why it is important to have an all-encompassing national security dialogue,” he stressed.
Importance of think tanks
The premier hoped that more think tanks would be established in Pakistan that competed with each other in quality of research and global credibility. “Then we will be able to properly put our national narrative in front of people,” he said.
He lamented that since the Salman Rushdie affair, foreign media and think tanks concentrated on Pakistan’s extremes and generalised the whole society. “If you concentrate on any society’s extremes then you will say a lot of bad things about it,” he added.
He held the “unjust” three-tiered education system as being majorly responsible for the extremes in Pakistani society since it produced three groups that had no connection with each other.
“I expect that now the time has come to research, bring original thought and define our country instead of someone from outside doing it. The more the credibility of your think tanks increases, the easier it will be for us to define ourselves in the world.”
However, Prime Minister Imran said the problem of a lack of narratives was not unique to Pakistan. He pointed out that there was a lack of think tanks in the rest of the Muslim world which could respond to criticism or Islamophobia.
He regretted that Muslims in the West had to face hardships but there was no response from the Islamic world’s leadership.
“If there were think tanks in the Muslim world then they would have taken up the issue [of atrocities in Indian-occupied Kashmir]. It is our misfortune the kind of racist government is there [in India] and the fascist policies it has and what it is doing with its minorities and especially in Kashmir.
“Unfortunately there are no think tanks in our Muslim world that can project this issue,” he said.