The Crossroads of Human Security in Pakistan

Amidst a myriad of pressing challenges, the human security situation in Pakistan is at a critical crossroads. The people of Pakistan are confronting grave problems concerning the economy, electricity shortages, corruption, lawlessness, a widening gap between the rich and poor, and persistent civil-military controversies. The recent rise in fuel prices, with an increase of 19.5 Rupees per liter, shows no sign of optimism about the betterment of the country’s economy. The country’s economy is also perilously placed, and it only recently received a $3bn loan from the International Monetary Fund in July, staving off a near-certain default.
These issues collectively underscore the alarming state of human security in the country, which is further compounded by a surge in terrorist attacks. During July 2023, violence escalated significantly, with a distressing rise in suicide attacks and the resulting casualties. Recent data released by the Pakistan Institute for Conflict and Security Studies (PICSS) indicates a staggering 15% increase in terror attacks compared to the previous month. This surge has led to a devastating 381% rise in civilian deaths and a concerning 131% increase in fatalities among security force personnel. Furthermore, civilian injuries witnessed an alarming surge of 583%, while security force personnel experienced a 64% increase in injuries during the same period.
Of particular concern is the spike in suicide attacks, with July recording the highest number of such attacks in any single month of the current year. Five suicide blasts resulted in the tragic loss of 69 lives and left 175 others injured. Among these attacks, the suicide blast at a JUI-F election rally in Bajaur district, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, serves as a grim reminder of the ever-present threat of terrorism.
Balochistan, too, faced an alarming increase in militant attacks, resulting in the deaths of 32 people, including 22 security force personnel and seven civilians. The province witnessed 17 militant attacks during July, further exacerbating the already precarious security situation.
The impact of these terrorist incidents on the common people cannot be overstated. Rising inflation, rapidly increasing prices of daily necessities, and an alarming unemployment trend have added to the woes of ordinary citizens. The recent surge in petrol prices, reaching 19.95 Rupees per litre, has further strained the already burdened citizens who are struggling to make ends meet. The economic situation has deteriorated further, pushing more people below the poverty line.
Adding to the challenges faced by the nation, the looming threat of floods presents an additional concern. With the country already grappling with multiple challenges, this year’s floods could potentially be more devastating, further straining the resources and resilience of the nation. Last year’s floods had a profound impact on lives, livelihoods, and infrastructure, and the recurrence of such natural disasters poses a significant risk to human security. The urgency for preparedness and effective disaster management is now greater than ever before.
The multifaceted nature of these challenges in Pakistan is intrinsically interconnected, exacerbating one another and amplifying the crisis. Corruption has entrenched itself deeply within various sectors of Pakistani society, undermining public trust in the government and institutions. The lack of transparency and accountability has only exacerbated the grievances of the people and fueled their disillusionment with the governance system.
The prevalence of lawlessness and insecurity has also added to the growing concerns regarding human security. The rise in criminal activities, such as street crimes and kidnappings, has instilled fear and anxiety in the general populace, further eroding their sense of safety and well-being.
Furthermore, Pakistan is grappling with a widening divide between the rich and poor, which has created a sense of social injustice and inequality. The elite’s opulent lifestyles stand in stark contrast to the plight of the impoverished masses, exacerbating the feeling of alienation and disenfranchisement. Adding to the complexities are the persistent civil-military controversies that have plagued the country for decades. These conflicts have engendered a sense of political instability and undermined the effectiveness of the government in addressing critical national issues.
The decline in law and order comes as Pakistan faces continuing political turmoil, with the ruling alliance of the Pakistan Democratic Movement and the country’s powerful military establishment unleashing a crackdown against former Prime Minister Imran Khan and his party, Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf. “Factions of TTP, as well as IS-K, will take advantage of the unstable political situation for carrying out more attacks against security forces,” he said.
Syed Akhtar Ali Shah, who served as a provincial secretary for home affairs in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa government, said that the fallout of a weak government that cannot establish itself is visible in the current security climate of the country.
“It is only a coincidence that we have elections this year, but the violence has only been increasing and this is not a new crisis. The state has the law, the policies, the framework. But it needs the will to enact these in letter and spirit,” he said.
The urgency of addressing these issues cannot be understated, and it requires a collective and determined approach from all sectors of society. Protecting the lives and welfare of citizens must be a paramount concern to ensure a safer and more stable future for Pakistan. The government and relevant authorities must take decisive action to confront these challenges comprehensively and holistically, while ensuring the safety and well-being of its citizens remain at the forefront of their priorities. Only through collective efforts and inclusive policies can the nation build a more resilient and secure future for all its people.

The writer is a Human Security & Global Politics Researcher and is currently Research Intern at the Islamabad Policy Research Institute. He can be reached at shabbirahmed

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