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Implications of Pakistan’s Internal Un

  Apr 15, 2023

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

Q What is the context  ?

  • The recent events in Pakistan which saw violent protests and attacks on military installations in Pakistan, are expected to have far-reaching consequences for the country. The repercussions of these developments raise questions about the implications for India’s national security, given the limited influence India has over the situation in Pakistan.


Q What are the Factors attributed to the Pakistan’s Internal Unrest ?

  • Political Turmoil: Pakistan has witnessed political instability over the years, with frequent changes in government and power struggles among political parties. The arrest of former Prime Minister Imran Khan and the subsequent protests by PTI activists have added fuel to the political turmoil, leading to further unrest.
  • Dissatisfaction with Governance: Widespread dissatisfaction with governance, corruption, and economic challenges have fuelled public discontent. High levels of poverty, unemployment, inflation, and inadequate public services have contributed to frustrations among the population, especially the youth.
  • Military Interference: The history of military intervention and its influence on civilian affairs in Pakistan has created a complex power dynamic. The perception of the military’s meddling in political matters has raised concerns about democratic processes and civilian control over governance.
  • Radicalization and Extremism: Pakistan has been grappling with the rise of radicalization and extremist ideologies within certain segments of society. Militant groups, such as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) and sectarian organizations, pose a significant threat to stability. Their ability to exploit social unrest and ideological divisions further exacerbates internal tensions.
  • Socio-economic Disparities: Pakistan faces significant socio-economic disparities, with a large portion of the population living in poverty and lacking access to basic necessities. Economic inequalities, coupled with ethnic and regional grievances, contribute to social unrest and political instability.
  • Ethnic and Sectarian Divisions: Pakistan is a diverse country with various ethnic and sectarian groups. Historical grievances, competition for resources, and political marginalization of certain groups have led to tensions and sporadic violence.


Q What is the Internal Dynamics within the Pakistani Army ?

  • Leadership Disputes: In recent years, there have been instances of discord between political leaders and successive army chiefs, including the prolonged discord between former Prime Minister Imran Khan and two successive chiefs. These leadership disputes have highlighted potential fissures within the army’s leadership and raised questions about unity and loyalty within its ranks
  • Perceptions of Political Support: There have been perceptions that support for political actors, such as Imran Khan, exists at various levels within the army. While initial perceptions suggested that support for Khan was mainly concentrated in the middle and lower ranks and among retired service personnel. These perceptions add complexity to the army’s internal dynamics and raise concerns about its role in political affairs.
  • Influence on Civilian Affairs: The Pakistani army has a long history of interfering in civilian affairs and exerting influence over the country’s political processes. This interference has often been seen as undermining democratic institutions and civilian control over governance.
  • Institutional Cohesion: The recent events, such as the attacks on military installations and the subsequent arrests have tested the army’s unity and revealed potential fault lines within the Pakistan Army set up.


Q What are the Implications for National Security of India ?

  • Regional Stability: The events of internal unrest in Pakistan can have spillover effects on regional stability. A political and economic meltdown leading to widespread chaos and social unrest in Pakistan can create a volatile environment in the region. India shares a long and sensitive border with Pakistan, and any instability in its neighbor directly affects India’s security interests.
  • Security of Pakistan’s Nuclear Arsenal: The internal unrest and potential vulnerabilities within the Pakistani army raise questions about the safety and security of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. The risk of extremist elements or terrorist organizations gaining access to nuclear components or fissile material could have severe implications for the entire region, including India.
  • Potential for Terrorist Exploitation: The presence of numerous terrorist organizations within Pakistan, such as Tehrik-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP), creates a fertile ground for extremist elements to exploit situations of chaos and instability.
  • Escalation of Cross-Border Tensions: In the past, during periods of internal instability, Pakistan has attempted to divert attention and rally support by escalating tensions with India. Any provocative actions or attempts to divert attention from internal issues could lead to increased border tensions, posing risks to regional stability.
  • Impact on Counterterrorism Efforts: If internal unrest in Pakistan leads to a weakening of the country’s institutions and security apparatus, it could hamper the effectiveness of counterterrorism efforts.
  • Humanitarian and Refugee Concerns: A political and economic meltdown in Pakistan could result in a significant humanitarian crisis, including a large influx of refugees across the border into India. This could strain resources and infrastructure in border areas, creating additional security challenges for India.


Q What can be the Way ahead ?

  • Strengthening Governance and Institutions: Efforts should be made to strengthen democratic institutions, enhance transparency, and promote good governance. This includes addressing issues of corruption, improving public service delivery, and ensuring the rule of law.
  • Counterterrorism Measures: Pakistan needs to accelerate its efforts to counter terrorism effectively. This includes robust intelligence gathering, coordination among security agencies, and targeted operations against terrorist networks. Enhancing border security and cooperation with neighboring countries, including intelligence sharing, can help in curbing cross-border terrorism.
  • Addressing Socio-Economic Disparities: Addressing socio-economic disparities and promoting inclusive development are essential to undermine the appeal of radical ideologies. This involves investing in education, healthcare, infrastructure, and job creation to uplift marginalized communities.
  • Balancing National Security and Civil Liberties: While ensuring national security is crucial, it should be done in a manner that respects civil liberties, human rights, and the rule of law. Striking a balance between security measures and preserving individual freedoms is essential for maintaining societal harmony and preventing further radicalization.


Q What can be the way forward ? 

  • The internal unrest in Pakistan following the violent events implications for both Pakistan’s national security and India’s interests. The security of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal, the potential influence of terrorist organizations, and the internal dynamics within the Pakistani army are critical considerations. In light of these developments, India must exercise caution and adopt a prudent approach, focusing on regional stability and maintaining a cautious stance rather than embracing triumphalism.