International Relations

India’s National Security Implications of Pakistan’s Internal Unrest

The events of May 9, 2023, in Pakistan, which saw violent protests and attacks on military sites, are predicted to have far-reaching ramifications for the country. Given India’s limited influence over the situation in Pakistan, the ramifications of these developments raise concerns about the implications for India’s national security.

Factors Contributing to Internal Unrest in Pakistan

  • Political Turmoil: Over the years, Pakistan has seen political instability, with numerous changes of government and power conflicts among political groups. The arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan, as well as following rallies by PTI activists, has given gasoline to the political fire, resulting in even more instability.
  • Unhappiness with government: Public unrest has been fueled by widespread unhappiness with government, corruption, and economic issues. Poverty, unemployment, inflation, and insufficient public services have all contributed to dissatisfaction among the populace, particularly among the youth.
  • Military Intervention: Pakistan’s history of military intervention and its impact on civilian affairs has generated a complex power dynamic. Concerns have been expressed concerning democratic processes and civilian authority over government as a result of the military’s perceived intervention in political matters.
  • Extremism and Radicalization: Pakistan has been battling with the rise of radicalization and extremist beliefs within certain segments of society. Militant organisations like the Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and sectarian organisations constitute a substantial danger to stability. Their capacity to capitalise on social instability and ideological divides exacerbates internal tensions.
  • Disparities in Socioeconomic Status: Pakistan has enormous socioeconomic disparities, with a large section of the population living in poverty and without access to basic essentials. Economic disparities, in combination with ethnic and regional grievances, contribute to social unrest and political instability.
  • Pakistan is a diversified country with a variety of ethnic and sectarian groups. Tensions and intermittent violence have resulted from historical grievances, competition for resources, and political marginalisation of particular communities.

Internal Conflicts in Pakistan’s Army

  • Leadership Disputes: There have been examples of friction between political leaders and previous army chiefs in recent years, including the long-running feud between former Prime Minister Imran Khan and two successive chiefs. These leadership clashes have exposed potential cracks in the army’s leadership and prompted concerns about unity and loyalty among its ranks.
  • Perceptions of Political Support: There have been reports that there is support for political players like Imran Khan at various levels within the army. Initially, it appeared that support for Khan was primarily concentrated in the middle and lower levels, as well as among retired service men. These perspectives complicate the army’s internal dynamics and create questions regarding the army’s role in political affairs.
  • Influence over Civilian matters: Pakistan’s army has a long history of intervening in civilian matters and wielding power over the country’s democratic processes. This meddling has frequently been viewed as eroding democratic institutions and popular authority over administration.
  • Institutional Cohesion: Recent incidents, including as the attacks on military sites and subsequent arrests, have put the army’s unity to the test and exposed potential flaws within the Pakistan Army structure.

Implications for India’s National Security

  • Regional Stability: Internal upheaval in Pakistan might have an impact on regional stability. A political and economic breakdown in Pakistan, resulting in widespread instability and social unrest, can create a hazardous atmosphere in the region. India and Pakistan share a long and sensitive border, and any instability in its neighbour directly impacts India’s security interests.
  • Security of Pakistan’s Nuclear Arsenal: Internal turmoil and potential weaknesses within the Pakistani army create concerns regarding the safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal. Extremist groups or terrorist organisations obtaining access to nuclear components or fissile material might have serious consequences for the entire region, including India.
  • The presence of multiple terrorist organisations within Pakistan, such as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), gives a fertile environment for extremist forces to exploit times of chaos and instability.
  • Cross-Border hostilities: In the past, during times of internal unrest, Pakistan has attempted to divert attention and galvanise support by raising hostilities with India. Any inflammatory actions or attempts to shift attention away from domestic difficulties may result in increasing border tensions, threatening regional stability.
  • The Effect on Counter-Terrorism Efforts: Internal turmoil in Pakistan might undermine the country’s institutions and security system, reducing the effectiveness of counterterrorism activities.
  • Concerns about humanitarian and refugee issues: A political and economic breakdown in Pakistan might lead to a major humanitarian disaster, including a substantial influx of refugees across the border into India. This might put a strain on border resources and infrastructure, posing further security issues for India.

Way Forward

  • Governance and Institutional Strengthening: Efforts should be undertaken to improve democratic institutions, increase transparency, and promote good governance. Addressing corruption, strengthening public service delivery, and ensuring the rule of law are all part of this.
  • Counterterrorism Measures: Pakistan must step up its efforts to combat terrorism. This includes thorough intelligence collecting, interagency cooperation, and targeted operations against terrorist networks. Improving border security and collaboration with neighbouring nations, particularly intelligence sharing, can aid in the fight against cross-border terrorism.
  • Addressing Socioeconomic imbalances: It is critical to address socioeconomic imbalances and promote inclusive development in order to diminish the attractiveness of radical ideas. To elevate marginalised populations, investments in education, healthcare, infrastructure, and job development are required.
  • While preserving national security is critical, it must be done in a way that respects civil liberties, human rights, and the rule of law. Maintaining communal cohesion and averting further radicalization requires striking a compromise between security measures and individual liberties.

@the end

Pakistan’s domestic instability in the aftermath of the violent events has repercussions for both Pakistan’s national security and India’s interests. Critical factors include the security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, the potential influence of terrorist organisations, and internal dynamics within the Pakistani army. In view of these developments, India must proceed with caution and caution, focusing on regional stability and adopting a cautious position rather than embracing triumphalism.

And get notified everytime we publish a new blog post.