Every state has fundamental national security interests based on which it interacts and intercedes with other states in the regional/international arena. The pursuance of these interests often creates alliances and regional grouping, resulting in conflicts and wars. John Collins defines national interests as the basic needs and wants of a nation; he has given several national security interests of a state such as survival, sovereignty, self-sufficiency, fundamental institutions, values and honour (John M. Collins, Grand Strategy, 1973). The fulfilment of these national security interests requires means, which are described as elements of national power (Hans J. Morgenthau, Politics Among Nations, 1948). Ray Cline has given a mathematical formula to determine the national means available, (Ray S. Cline, World Power Assessment 1977);

PP = (C + E + M) x (S + W)

PP is Perceived Power

C is Critical Mass i.e. Geography and Population

E is Economy

M is Military

S stands for Strategic Purpose i.e. National Interests

W stands for Will to carry out/implement the National Interests

Importantly, it is not the entire nation that determines or formulates national security interests but a few elites who are at the helm of affairs and knitted in the decision-making apparatus formulate various policies and strategies to attain these interests. Graham T. Allison has presented three decision-making models (Essence of Decision: Explaining the Cuban Missile Crisis, 1971); Rational Actor Model (RAM), as the dominant individual process, Organizational Process Model (OPM), which is the interplay of various national institutions, and Bureaucratic Political Model (BPM), which is the political competition within the bureaucracies.

However, Clausewitz considers that national decision-making is concentrated at the Centre of Gravity (Carl von Clausewitz, On War, 1832), and this Centre of Gravity differs from state to state. Therefore, national security interests are a combination of goals/objectives to be achieved through available national means with effective policies/strategies formulated by the national leadership.

The creation of Pakistan was a miracle, within seven years, a nation-state was born due to a selfless leadership who had a clear vision helped by national fervour.

Right from the beginning, Pakistan had to fight for its survival, which ultimately led to the dismemberment of the country in 1971 due to a leadership crisis, the absence of a constitution, a lack of clear vision and policies, and military intervention. Nonetheless, Pakistan made successful inroads into various fields; Oil and Gas Development Company (1961) and Pakistan Steel Mills (1971) were established with the assistance and support of the Soviet Union.

Importantly, Pakistan gave a loan of $25 million to West Germany in 1963, and in the 1970s Pakistan became the principal factor in the socio-economic uplift of the Arab Gulf States. However, since the mid-1970s, due to institutional clashes, lack of sound vision and long-term policies, leadership crisis and external manoeuvrings, Pakistan suffered political instability, ultimately giving birth to economic instability.

Despite, tremendous human and material resources, Pakistan could not harness its true potential. Also, the conflict with India and Afghanistan was used to perpetuate political legitimacy and golden opportunities were missed to have lasting peace with the neighbouring states.

In the kinetic realm, Pakistan made tremendous strides and successfully met all the challenges. Starting with the US arms embargo of 1965, Pakistan embarked on a program of self-sufficiency and established Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF), Heavy Mechanical Complex (HMC) and Pakistan Aeronautical Complex (PAC) with the help of China. Subsequently, Pakistan developed its armoured tank, light aircraft, and then state-of-the-art JF Thunder.

In 1974, India conducted its nuclear explosion and Pakistan initiated its nuclear program, despite severe sanctions from the US and the cancellation of a nuclear processing plant by France, Pakistan was able to achieve nuclear parity. In 1986, India held its massive military exercise ‘Brasstacks’ along the Pakistani border in Rajasthan and challenged Pakistan. Through an interview of AQ Khan with an Indian journalist Kuldip Nayar revealing a ‘bomb in the basement’ the situation was neutralized culminating in the ‘cricket diplomacy.’

In 1998 the regional strategic balance of power was drastically altered in the wake of Indian nuclear explosions, despite immense international pressure, Pakistan successfully restored that by conducting six nuclear explosions enunciated the ‘minimum credible deterrence’ doctrine, and continued to enhance the capabilities of its strategic assets. Though the Kargil war (1999) proved to be a misadventure, in the aftermath of the attack on the Indian parliament, India amassed massive troops along Pakistani borders resulting in a military standoff in 2001-02. The 11-month standoff was eased out when Pakistan signalled to use non-conventional weapons to defend itself.

In 2011, the US/NATO forces attacked Salala Chek Post inside the Pakistani territory, Pakistan stopped the US/NATO supplies for nine months, and it was restored only after an excuse from the US. In 2019, India violated Pakistan’s airspace and challenged its sovereignty, the response was very severe, shooting down Indian aircraft and arresting the pilot. In 2024, in response to the Iranian missile strikes inside Pakistani territory, again Pakistan responded severely and swiftly to reestablish its deterrence capability. However, since 1979, the cross-border and home-grown terrorist activities were not ably controlled due to the mismatch of military and political objectives, and as a result of an incoherent counter-terrorism strategy.

The OBL and Raymond Davis cases along with drone strikes and the ‘Do More’ mantra were political expediencies and the result of wrong priorities.

In the contemporary digital and technological age with an unprecedented flow of scientific knowledge, Pakistan cannot afford to have a persistent politico-economic crisis at the alter of its development and progression as a vibrant state. The added emphasis is on non-traditional/human security, to fight the battle of ideas and a war of narratives. Pakistan possesses immense potential as per the Ray S. Cline formula; the pivot geostrategic positioning, 5th largest population with 2/3rd under the age of 35, 4th largest online/freelance workforce, 6th largest labour force, availability of 4th largest irrigation land and 7th largest/powerful armed force.

The country has 2nd largest coal reserves, 5th largest gold and copper reserves and 2nd largest salt mines (See Table I). Importantly, what it lacks is Human Resource Development, Governance, Science and Technology education, and above all sound/viable long-term policies (See Table II).

Unfortunately, even the required official data is not available to formulate any futuristic perspective. Due to the lack of vision and foresightedness, Pakistan never enunciated its national interest publicly and never tried to formulate its national security policy to achieve these. A half-hearted effort was made in 2014 to bring out National Internal Security Policy but it suffered implementation syndrome. Eventually, in 2022, Pakistan’s national security interests were publicly enunciated in the National Security Policy of Pakistan 2022-2026 document (NSD, 2022). The NSP highlighted several important objectives to be achieved; national cohesion, economic security, defence and territorial integrity, internal security, foreign relations and human security.

This may not be the perfect blueprint for Pakistan’s national security interests, let this document be debated, revised and then passed by the parliament to make it a consensus national document. Pakistan should prepare a short-term policy on Vision 2030 and a long-term policy on Vision 2047 (Centennial of Pakistan), the academia is ready to play its role in this regard and let all national institutions join hands together. Pakistan needs a comprehensive national security policy and substantial changes in the decision-making apparatus to formulate and pursue national security interests (Nazir Hussain, “A National Security Policy for Pakistan” 2021).

Moreover, in the economic realm, there is huge potential in the blue economy of Pakistan, which is projected to raise $100 billion in revenues (Nazir Hussain, “Pakistan’s Blue Economy Potential, Challenges and Prospects” 2022). To effectively project the Pakistani perspective and its soft image to the world, a state-of-the-art and internationally standard media outlet is most required.

There are many unplaced priorities and many issues to be revised, such as CPEC and IP gas pipeline projects, which are strategically important for Pakistan, instead of these proving game changers have been compromised due to external pressures.

Pakistan needs to take some hard and unpopular decisions and its national security interests are to be clearly defined with consensus through parliament and publicly enunciated to get the national support.

These are to be converted into policy objectives/strategies to be achieved through a revamped decision-making structured on the Organizational Process Model with vision and foresightedness into sound short-term and long-term goals.

There is an abundance of human capital and national resources, which require dedicated and selfless leadership with full public support to convert and achieve national security interests. So far, Pakistan’s national security interests were being safeguarded randomly with pick-and-chose priority, let there be a comprehensive national priority and step-by-step approach to define, formulate and achieve them with full national zeal, velour and force.


Element                                 Weight                                     Global Ranking              Source

Geography 796,095 sq km 37/196 CIA-World Fact Book
Population 240 million 5 (1.98% growth) UNDP
Economy $1.2688 trillion

$338.24 billion





Irrigation Land 193,400 sq km 4/145 CIA-WFB
Youth Bulge 64% <30 UNDP
Labor Force 78.863 million 6 CIA-WFB
Online Freelancing 5 million 4 Oxford Internet Institute (OII)


Global Firepower Index (GFI) 2024


Financial stability/

Available resources/

Geographic location

560,000 personnel

$6.27 billion Def Budget





IISS/Military Balance



Natural Resources 2nd largest Coal reserves,

5th largest Gold reserves

5th largest Copper reserves

2nd largest Salt mines

Trade Development Authority of Pakistan (TDAP)



Element                                 Weight                                            Global Ranking        Source

Account Balance $11.998 billion (-)

$22.235 billion (-)



Foreign Exchange Reserves $9.927 billion (2022)

$14.458 (2024)


State Bank of Pakistan

Foreign Debt $107.527 b (2019)

PKR36,976.9 (2024) ($127b)


State Bank of Pakistan

Industrial Performance Index  82/152 UNIDO
Human Dev Index 0.544 164/193 UNDP
Education 58% (25 million children out of school) 136 World Population Review
S&T/Global Innovation Index 88 World Intellectual Property Org (WIPO)
Internet users 48.3 million

(21% of population)


Control of Corruption/

Control of Crime

0.318 157 World Governance Index/World Bank
Prosperity Index

Safety & Security/

Personal Freedom/

Social Capital/

Living Conditions

136/167 Legatum Prosperity Index
Global Resilience Index

Business Environment/

Economic Risks/

Political Risks/

Climate Risks/

Health Risks

25.9 124 FM Global


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