In Nepal whose politics and national security is weakened more by internal factors, the country must frame security policy by involving experts
Security policy of a country must necessarily be short, clear and implementable. Otherwise, it misleads, it means nothing. As such any country, rich and poor or democratic or autocratic, have their own security policy. Advanced countries may fence their borders, recruit large military strength, keep fighter planes standby, have educated population and provide best jobs to people. Poor countries lack them all for need of money. Even so, poor country cannot afford to neglect security of its borders and defending the country even by cutting expenditure on food, if necessary. A well-functioning country invariably makes its security policy appropriate for its soil. So what should Nepal do?
Nepal needs to come up with well-defined short-term goals of 10 years, midterm goals of 20, and long-term goals beyond 30 years. This way, we can implement them properly. But these three-phase security policies do not apply in case of an external threat.
As we are implementing the constitution, we need to identify national interest and frame security policy. In Nepal whose politics and national security is weakened more by internal factors, the country must be attentive to framing national security policy by calling and involving experts and scholars from National Planning Commission, civil society, media and ministries.
For identification of national interest, formulation of national security policy is akin to military appreciation plan just before marching to war to fight enemies when the strength status of the enemy decides whether to take defensive or offensive measure.
Though Nepal does not have permanent or temporary enemies to pose threat to our security, arguably Nepal does not have friends to wholly support in time of threat and crisis either. Likely external threats include economic blockade imposed by immediate neighbor, border encroachment, inflow of refugees, international terrorism, secessionist forces, communal conflicts, religious extremism etc. Nepal’s immediate neighbors are extremely cautious if any transnational users pose threat to them by using our soil.
In this situation, Nepal needs to identify possible threats and be prepared for the same by making national interest our guidelines. Nepal needs to be clear whether China and India are its friends or enemies. Of the two which one poses threat and which of them poses a greater security threat. And if they do, how do we mobilize or deploy our security forces and secure help and support from other countries or the UN. What will we do to eliminate poverty, enhance foreign relationships and maintain social harmony? We need to be clear on these issues.
First, we should redefine national security policy then we need to formulate a security doctrine. The identification of national interest and making of national security policy must precede making of the doctrine. Else it cannot function. There should be collective consultation and collaboration among Ministries of Finance, Agriculture and Livestock, Land Reforms, Education, Physical Planning and Construction, Defense, Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs, National Planning Commission and civil society. The scope, function and chain of command among the institutions must be clear.
The status of threat to national security from internal factors is not less than 90 percent. Of this around 70 percent source of threat is posed by combination of poverty, ever increasing corruption, politicization in judiciary, arbitrary administration, caste conflicts, instable politics, desire to earn money without hard work in civil servants and security organs and unregulated INGOs.
We can counter or minimize security threats by expediting momentum of development supported by stable politics and good governance. This demands 90 percent of the budget. This momentum of development should be contributed not by army, police, bomb, arms and ammunition but by doctors, engineers, masons, carpenters, sculptors, hydroelectricity experts and educationists. Planning Commission, Ministries of Finance, Education, Construction and Development and Foreign Affairs should define their roles in this.
When needed, the ministry concerned and PC must seek suggestion from Nepal Army, Nepal Police, Nepal Armed Police Force and National Investigation Department because roads, railroads, tunnels, airports, bridges, canals, water reservoirs, hydro projects and communication set up that are developed need to be easy to use for security forces. Our constitution should be oriented in a manner that strengthens national security. This is a universal practice.
History is the source of energy for national pride, and politics is the practice to achieve that. In the post-2007 order, our history has been distorted. So just about everyone is saying what they think is true. We need to right-size government offices as well as security organs because too little remuneration gives rise to corruption. If we have the fair size of security forces giving remuneration enough for survival won’t be a problem.
Second, we must update education to address the need of the time and country. Education that produces unemployed manpower will only invite conflict. Education directed to generate skilled manpower generates discipline. Japan did that. It cultivated discipline and character in its citizens to rise from devastation of World War II. Their education helped cultivate confidence, character and discipline in people. We don’t have such education here. We need to do all we can, to enhance our security and to ensure that the country, as well as us, are safe. All else is secondary.
The author, retired Brigadier General of Nepal Army, has Master’s Degree in International Security from Cranfield University, UK