Writer: Zeeshan Naeem
Corona virus is not the “only threat” that we are facing, in fact it has brought plethora of questions for our conventional militarized mindset regarding security and defense of the state and citizens. It is extremely important to understand threat and its referent object before formulating a security strategy.
Territorial boundary right now is the main “origin of threat” in terms of corona virus spread, especially the one linked with Iran has question marked our previous claims and efforts. This is the first area where we need to plant our military minds with full attention, in order to curb down origin of corona virus spread. In this area referent object of security must be the loopholes on the border line connecting Pakistan with Iran.
Secondly the mass who is already there, into our crowded cities due to the incapacity and lack of administrative measures, is the second area of threat where we need “presence of mind” rather than the application of reactionary measures or waiting for patients to come into the hospitals. One thing is clear that referent object of security in this area is “human” but confusion erupts with realization that cases are spread all over.When cases are spread all over, it is extremely difficult to highlight or pinpoint areas of threat particularly and without specifying areas of threat exactly, security strategy for containing and countering this threat will go in vain.
This is the confusion that was reflecting in the words of Prime Imran Khan when he addressed nation about the measures and spread of corona virus on Tuesday 17th March, as he said; I want to tell all of you, this virus will spread. He also said that; Due to the economic constraints it was decided not to lock down cities as that could result in people “dying from hunger”. This is what we call academically a “security trade off” but one thing we must not forget that; the way cases are raising on daily basis; simple graph will tell you that sooner or later we have to adopt this measure.
If we cannot afford to lock down whole cities at least we can pin point areas more specifically where cases are higher in comparison to other areas and we must implement lockdown-like measures with surveillance in those areas, so that corona may not spread to other cities. Our first priority for lockdown-like measures should be the areas in close range with Iran border which are highlighted as “origin of threat” and secondary areas must be the towns where we have established quarantine camps for incoming mass, within Punjab, Sindh and Baluchistan. Whenever it comes the question of how much security and at what cost, obviously you cannot invest all into it, you have to specify areas of threat and then with full attention you can contain or counter threats emanating our of those specified areas.
Third area where we need to work on collectively is the subjective aspect of security, named as subjective security. Security is not only about absence of threat but also about “absence of the fear of threat.” Obviously while alarming people about the spread of corona virus sometimes we intentionally create fear within the minds so that; people may take threat seriously and carefully but we don’t understand how much fear is required. People ignore this point but it is really important, because more fear means panic leading to a chaotic situation in long term, simply counterproductive.Flow of information within social media, as well as electronic media is third area of concern in the context of security, and the referent object for this area is nothing but subjectivity of the people.
Fourth and the last element that is most important in all this scenario is time. Sometimes short term measures taken by the governments bring chaos in long term. Right now referent object of security is simply “human” but in long term if reality gone wrong even economy and then state itself will not be spared by the wrath of reactionary public. It is understandable that; situation in hand is not allowing government to focus on long term measures but we can’t ignore it completely and this is the area where we need to conduct seminars and conferences in near future to have good policy proposals in hand.
Challenges in life are the opportunities, questioning our previous mentalities and behaviors, so that; we can review, where we went wrong and this is how human civilization cross the bridge of progress. Yes, it is God who decides the fate of community but it is also God who has given us revelation and the art of reasoning to overcome obstructions and obscurantism hanging above our heads.
Everyone will be held responsible for what he did here in good or bad times, if not here surely in hereafter. Reality right now, under the eruption of corona is constantly changing and information emerging out this is ambiguous and contradictory. If it’s not a war, surely it is a war-like situation, what our rulers need is the “presence of mind” as recommended by famous military theorist Clausewitz.
Zeeshan Naeem is Student of Defense and Strategic Studies, department, at National Defense University, Islamabad)