Pakistan’s Deep State Prefers a Shiny New Toy To Focusing on Political & Economic Challenges


Pakistan has many challenges on the political, economic, and social fronts but Pakistan’s deep state’s response to these challenges is to ask for a lucrative and massive internal security infrastructure instead!


In early December, the board of governors of the National Counter Terrorism Authority (Nacta) asked for a new internal security structure on the lines of the US Homeland Security Department. According to analyst Muhammad Amir Rana, “The bureaucratic mindset has developed a habit of suggesting new initiatives, inspired by those in the West, without considering the local context, need and the inherent financial and institutional limitations. There is hardly any interest in and consideration of reforming existing mechanisms for improving their implementation and efficiency.”


As Rana argues, “The logic behind proposing ever-new parallel initiatives is that it gives bureaucracy the room to shift the blame for their lack of competence onto the existing system. Executives and policymakers are convinced, because plenty of donors remain available to provide initial financial assistance for such initiatives. The international donor community has its own limitations and believes in supporting local initiatives suggested by the same bureaucracy directly or by consultants serving the donor community during their deputations. The government does not appear to realise that eventually these new initiatives will become white elephants for the state.”


Rana notes that “Nacta itself was conceived in the context of the Homeland Security Department. However, establishing such an independent body will remain a dream from the Pakistani perspective. First, the Homeland Security Department has a specific background and evolved through a merger of different departments dealing with internal threats. Second, this is a huge body, with 24 departments and an annual budget of $173 billion. Apart from the monetary and organisational aspects of such a huge institution, the nature of the threats the US is facing is different.”


Later, as Rana notes, “Nacta was patterned on the UK’s National Security Secretariat, which coordinates security and intelligence issues across the government and produces assessments on national security issues. However, such a body cannot work in Pakistan because intelligence agencies remain reluctant to share information with a civilian body like Nacta.


Rana concludes by noting that “Nacta can become effective if it focuses on its core coordination mandate and provides policy insights on internal threats.”


Author: Shaista Sindhu