With all due respect to the erudite readers, let’s begin with the fundamentals, as many individuals who hold political positions in our country may not even have a clear understanding of it. Politics is the process through which people living in groups make decisions. Politics is the process of reaching agreements between individuals in order to facilitate coexistence within various social units, such as tribes, cities, or countries. In large groups, such as countries, some individuals may dedicate a significant amount of their time to negotiating such agreements. These individuals are known as politicians. Politicians, and occasionally individuals from other professions, may come together to establish a government. A government is a group of people who have the power to rule over a territory, in accordance with administrative law. This territory may be a country, a state or province within a country, or a region. There are many types of government, such as democratic, parliamentary, presidential, federal, or unitary. The study of politics in universities is called political science, public affairs, government, political studies, or public administration.
In everyday life, the term “politics” refers to the way countries are governed and how governments create rules and laws to effectively manage human society. Politics can also be observed in other groups, such as companies, clubs, schools, and places of worship. A constitution is the rulebook for a state. It sets out the fundamental principles by which the state is governed. It describes the main institutions of the state and defines the relationships among these institutions, specifically the executive, legislature, and judiciary. The state and its institutions work closely together to achieve national interests in accordance with the constitution. According to Hans Joachim Morgenthau (February 17, 1904 – July 19, 1980), a German-American jurist and political scientist who was a prominent figure in the study of international relations in the 20th century, “The meaning of national interest is survival—the protection of physical, political, and cultural identity against encroachments by other nation-states.” The Brookings Institution defines national interest as “what a nation deems necessary for its security and well-being. National interest encompasses the overall and ongoing objectives for which a nation takes action.”
In describing the national interests that nations seek to secure, a two-fold classification is generally made: vital components and variable or non-vital components of national interests. According to Morgenthau, the vital components of national interests that a foreign policy seeks to secure are survival and identity. He subdivides identity into three parts: physical identity. Political Identity and Cultural Identity. Physical identity includes territorial identity. Political identity refers to the politico-economic system, while cultural identity represents the historical values that a nation upholds as part of its cultural heritage. These components are referred to as vital because they are crucial for the nation’s survival and can be readily identified and examined. A nation always formulates its foreign policy decisions with a view to securing and strengthening its security. The attempts that nations are currently making to secure international peace and security are driven by the recognition that the security of each state is inseparably linked to international peace and security. Security is, thus, a vital component of national interest. Each nation always strives to safeguard its vital interests, even if it means resorting to war.
The non-vital components are those parts of national interest that are determined either by circumstances or by the necessity of securing the vital components. These factors include decision-makers, public opinion, party politics, sectional or group interests, and political and moral traditions. “These variable interests are the desires of individual states that they would undoubtedly like to see fulfilled, but they are not willing to go to war for them.” “Whereas the vital interests may be considered as the primary goals, the secondary interests can be referred to as the objectives of foreign policy.” These objectives, as listed by Dyke, include prosperity, peace, ideology, justice, prestige, aggrandizement, and power. Though each state defines these objectives in a manner that suits its interests in changing circumstances, these objectives can be described as common to almost all states. The following are the five popular methods or instruments that a nation usually employs to secure its national interests in international relations: diplomacy, propaganda, economic means, alliances and treaties, and coercive means. Most importantly, interventions, non-intercourse, embargoes, boycotts, reprisals, retaliation, severance of relations, and peaceful sanctions are popular coercive measures that a stronger nation can use to compel a weaker nation to adopt a specific behavior or refrain from actions that are deemed harmful by the nation implementing the coercive measures. War and aggression have been declared illegal means, yet they continue to be used by states in the actual course of international relations. Military power is still regarded as a significant component of national power and is frequently employed by a nation to achieve its desired goals and objectives.
For a layperson, the security responsibility of a state refers to the assurance of physical security for the state and its citizens. For every individual in a governed society, it encompasses the protection of life, property, self-respect, honor, and freedom of speech. On the welfare side, it includes the provision of food, housing, clean air, and safe drinking water, quality education and healthcare facilities, energy security, employment and business opportunities, and sufficient purchasing power to meet the expenses of a healthy family life. Not to mention the state’s responsibility to ensure the respect of its passport, the safety, and the well-being of its citizens living abroad. This, in a nutshell, encapsulates the national interest with regard to the “security and well-being of its citizens.”
The tumultuous history of politics in Pakistan, along with the successes and failures of civil, military, and hybrid governments over the past 76 years, needs to be evaluated. This evaluation should consider the aforementioned features and fundamentals of state governance, particularly in relation to the attainment of both vital and non-vital national interests. For Pakistani politicians and rulers, their tactic to stay in power is to keep the people deprived and dependent, always struggling for basic essentials of life, and entangled in the Thana (police station), Katchehry (lower courts), and patwari (land record office). When controlling both houses of parliament, the elite focus on passing bills and ordinances to absolve themselves of any crimes committed and to consolidate their power. This strategy has been consistently employed throughout Pakistani political history. We don’t have to go far to find examples. The bills and ordinances passed by the incumbent PDM Government in the last year clearly demonstrate this, and the past is equally unpleasant. For the majority of Pakistani people, it has remained a game of power politics without considering national interests. Hardly any government, political or military ruler, or state institution would score passing marks when tested on the touchstone of the aforementioned factors related to politics, state governance, and the achievement of national interests. A comparative graph illustrating progress on these elements during the same period by Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, China, and Israel could be highly instructive and serve as a reflection for the often loud and arrogant ruling elite of Pakistan. Every man on the street, as well as on social and electronic media, has a dozen solutions for every problem that the state of Pakistan is facing. However, it seems that only the highly paid experts have a dozen problems for every possible solution. Is it a problem of competence or character that keeps Pakistan constantly struggling in a vortex? Worthy readers may like to revisit my articles published in February 2019 titled “Leadership: Is Competence or Character More Important?” and “A Challenged State” which were published in April 2021.
“You told me once that we shall be judged by our intentions, not by our accomplishments. But we must intend to accomplish—not sit intending on a chair.” ~