Is the ‘first-ever’ National Security Policy a paradigm shift?

Is the ‘first-ever’ National Security Policy a paradigm shift?
Photo by jawadpics via Pexels, 2021


Nicola Costantin

Pakistan and Human Rights Researcher

Global Human Rights Defence

Pakistan, for the first time in its history, has released a National Security Policy (NSP) for the year 2022-2026 (Pakistan Today, 2022). Essentially, the unclassified part of the NSP consists of 62 pages document which articulates the national security framework: from national cohesion to securing the country’s economic future, and internal security, to foreign policy (National Security Policy of Pakistan, 2022). This new document represents a critical development within Pakistani society, bringing a ‘paradigm shift’ over national security, and its relationship with human rights and rule of law. 

On the one hand, NSP makes significant claims about strengthening the rule of law, ensuring fundamental freedoms, equality for all citizens, and fostering ‘unity through diversity’ by promoting interfaith harmony and minority rights (National Security Policy of Pakistan, 2022). Moreover, the document underlines the importance of women, emphasizing how ‘no security policy can be successful unless it adopts a gendered lens’ (National Security Policy of Pakistan, 2022).  

On the other hand, this policy has been formed outside the classical democratic process (Daur, 2022). Though the NSP claims to have consulted more than 500 different stakeholders, the National Assembly and Senate were bypassed, leaving outside from the debate the oppositions and the minorities represented within the Parliament (Banerji, 2022). It seems not a case that the word ‘democracy’ and ‘parliament’ aren’t mentioned even once within the document, while rule of law was mentioned 5 times and human rights 3 times. Another contradiction concerns the rights of minorities. As previously mentioned, while the NSP searches a greater cohesion among the society, it labels minorities as ‘sub-national narratives’, while the major aim is to ‘foster patriotism and social cohesion through national values’, i.e. preservation of the Islamic character (National Security Policy of Pakistan, 2022). 

In conclusion, this document might be a step forward to a more inclusive society that respects human rights and rule of law, especially for minorities and with a gendered lens. Contrarily, it might result in an old paradigm with a new packaging, namely a new tool for the elite to consolidate the power over any aspect of the country’s society in the name of ‘national security’. The future result might depend on how the NSP will be used.


Pakistan Today. 2022. PM launches public version of National Security Policy. Retrieved March, 15 2022, from:

Daur, N., 2022. The Jargon-Laced National Security Policy Has Several Hidden Meanings. The Friday Times. Retrieved March, 15 2022, from:

Banerji, R., 2022. Pakistan’s National Security Policy: Why this will be just another eyewash and not make any reversal of policy direction. Firstpost. Retrieved March, 15 2022, from:

National Security Policy of Pakistan, 2022 - 2026. 2022.  Retrieved March, 15 2022, from: