Syed Rifaat Hussain

Emerging trends

The modern state system which first emerged in Europe in the late 17th century, the Westphalian system, gradually spreading to the rest of the world, is coming under increasing stress. Its fundamental precepts of state-sovereignty, autonomy and territoriality, are fast losing their centrality. There are many who are questioning the relevance of the state-centric model of the international society and security. Proponents of globalization insist that we are living in an interdependent world where distinctions such as territoriality, which was the hallmark of the Westphalian system, is no longer salient.

Related to this is the second development which is the attempt to broaden and deepen the meaning of security. Human security, common security, cooperative security are new additions to the contested construct of military security. Military security is necessary but not a sufficient condition of making people secure. Other than military, non-military dimensions are also gaining in importance and are becoming more relevant in the changing global context.

The third development is the power shift away from Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) countries towards the Asia-Pacific region. This region represented by the economic rise of China and India is fast emerging as the new power house of economic growth and development.  Along with this power-shift, the traditional emphasis on hard power is being replaced by soft power with emphasis on information power. Only those states are likely to survive which play the power game smartly. So there is the new emphasis on the smart power which combines the hard and soft elements of the power.

The fourth trend is the complexity and fluidity of the emerging global order. There are new actors such as Daish/ISIL, Al Qaeda that are posing challenge to the authority of established paradigm of the international politics. Cascading effects of non-state actors have made it very difficult for a state to manage security. The current economic difficulties faced by Greece is the prime example of this complexity. And there is a new trend toward multi-polarity and diffusion of power marked by the rise of China, India, and BRICS.

The fifth trend is the development and induction of new technologies of war-fighting as part of the global drive towards strategic modernization of armed forces. The Revolution in Military Affairs (RMA), has five central attributes at present which will shape the future of warfare in the contemporary world. These include:

  • The ability to strike with great accuracy independent of range;
  • The ability, through the use of stealth, to penetrate defenses with impunity;
  • The emergence of unmanned warfare;
  • The tactical and operational exploitation of space;
  • And the ability to move information rapidly and widely across a joint battle network and exploit the effects of increased joint force integration.

In terms of nano technology, there are three regions of the world which control nearly eighty percent of the knowledge on new technologies. Europe controls twenty-nine percent, Japan twenty-eight percent and the US twenty-seven of the total knowledge on nano technology.

Because of these structural changes, new zones of peace and zones of conflict are clearly emerging. Armed conflict, turbulence, social and political instability will continue to plague developments in the South zone while the Northern zone will remain focused on economic issues. Acts of terrorism and armed violence by non-state actors will continue to haunt both the zones.

As a result of Washington’ pivot to Indo-Pacific policy, Indian Ocean region has emerged as a new zone of great power rivalry which is contributing to greater instability and insecurity in the entire Asia-Pacific region. This is compounding the general sense of crisis of global governance in which all the existing regimes are facing mounting challenges – NPT, WTO, IMF. To cope with this global crisis of governance, new institutions are being developed to manage this crisis –  The Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank AIIB led by China is a case in point.

Five of the ten largest arms importers of arms, according to recent SIPRI data, are located in the Asia-Pacific region and this underscores the continued militarization of the region.

The Rise of a Multipolar World:

In his 2009 book Power Rules: How Common Sense Can Rescue American Foreign Policy, Leslie H. Gelb who is the former president of the Council on Foreign Relations, talked about the emerging new Pyramid of power.

Unipolar World on the International System-as-a-Whole Level of Analysis and a Multipolar World at the Regional Level of Analysis.

                                                    Leslie H. Gelb’s Power Pyramid


First Tier:

According to Gelb, at the top of the emerging power-hierarchy is the United States – a paramount power. Its economy outstrips all the other individual economies and is surpassed only by the entire European Union. China and India will take decades to catch up, if they ever catch up at all. While America now has competitors in technology and technological innovation, it remains the leader in those areas as well. And its military superiority far surpasses its economic advantages. The United States continues to spend about as much on its armed forces as all the other major industrial nations combined. More tellingly, it is in a class by itself in terms of usable military technology—the mix of hardware, software, and organization.

Second Tier:

Right below the United States is, the second tier of countries consisting of China, Japan, India, Russia, the United Kingdom, France, Germany, and just barely Brazil. Call them The Eight Principals, or simply The Eight.

Third Tier:

The third rung of power-hierarchy is occupied by a narrow band of oil-producing states—the Oil and Gas Pumpers—which includes Saudi Arabia, Iran, the smaller Gulf states, Venezuela, and Nigeria (and obviously Russia as well). Their power derives from their large share of the global oil and gas supplies and the investment clout of their profits.

Fourth Tier:

The fourth tier consists of mid-level states with mostly localized potential as The Regional Players. This group includes Mexico, Nigeria, South Africa, Pakistan, South Korea, and Taiwan. Most are far behind the top three tiers economically.

Fifth Tier:

The fifth tier—which can be classified as The Responsible—encompasses as many as fifty states, medium and small, all over the map. Most are responsible world citizens such as Switzerland, Norway, Singapore, Botswana, and Chile.

Sixth Tier:

The sixth tier—The Bottom Dwellers or Problem States—includes about seventy-five states in varying degrees of political or economic disarray, or both. Examples include Sudan, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Bosnia, Afghanistan, Uzbekistan, Nicaragua, and Burma.

Seventh Tier:

The seventh and the final tier consists of the Non-State Actors. They include refugee and human rights advocacy groups (the NGOs), terrorists, the international media, and international business. They are a highly disparate bunch in interests and actions, and they often act in ways contradictory to one another’s interests. They are now thoroughly intertwined with governments, societies, and individuals all over the globe and operate worldwide. It is difficult to measure their influence, but they dwell everywhere and usually manage to get at least a hearing on big issues and a real voice where their expertise is engaged.

The Future Outlook

Technology and new forms of warfare – UAVs, for example – will be widely used and new platforms based on information warfare will be developed and deployed with increasing frequency.

The second trend is emphasis on global surveillance and monitoring – revelations about NSA by Snowden is a case in point.

There is a rise of the global South and relative decline of American hegemony, and as a result of this development the power transition is not complete yet but it is a significant factor.

The Rise of India

There are several factors that underpin the rise of India:

  • Demography – second most populous country IN the world.
  • Democracy – largest democracy in the world.
  • Economic growth rate is that of  fastest growing economies in the world. Some people contest that India is likely to be among the top four economies in the world.
  • Expanding influence – India’s zone of influence has expanded.
  • Internal cohesion and domestic stability will become a critical issue for a rising India.
  • Civilizational and cultural pull – India’s soft power is likely to continue to attract outsiders.
  • Military strength – conventional, nuclear and space capabilities of India are likely to grow as India accumulates new wealth and a big chunk of this wealth is diverted toward defense. India is on course to being one of the largest military forces due to its sustained drive for military modernization.

Challenges for Pakistan’s Defence Sector

Steady economic growth is needed to provide resources required to expand the defense sector. No defence sector can expand in isolation from economic strength of the country. Pakistan needs to get out of this three to four percent of economic growth rate and allow its  economy to grow annually by at least seven to eight percent. There is a challenge of technological innovation because Pakistan is a late starter in this field. India began developing its IT sector much earlier than Pakistan. Now India is at the cutting edge of the emerging technologies which are going to shape the future of warfare. Nearly all cutting edge technologies especially in the field of information warfare lie outside Pakistan. Pakistan does not even have its “Silicon Valley.”

Building new and modern platforms is expensive and it takes time to bring them online. Pakistan’s heavy reliance on overseas suppliers for high-technology aerial and naval platforms needs to be reduced.

Dependency on China is increasing, as seventy percent of Pakistan’s defense imports emanate from China. The majority of defense factories in Pakistan only produce precision components or parts, mainly due to financial constraints and lack of private-public partnerships. Also there is the perennial problem of inefficient use of available funds.

Islamabad also confronts the absence of level playing field in procuring arms from the international markets.  Occasional arms embargoes, owing to its nuclear arsenal and tension with India, starve Pakistan of the vital supply of equipment and components.

The Prospect

These limitations notwithstanding, whatever Pakistan has produced has good international reputation which is garnering interest from international manufacturers in countries such as Turkey. New defence partners, including Malaysia, Serbia and Turkey, could bring new expertise to the Pakistani industry. Annual 10% growth of the defence budget should create opportunities for local industry. Production of JF-17 Thunder, co-developed with China, could lead to export orders, with the two countries going on a sales push in order to secure export contract for the aircraft. New export rules and better government oversight should help boost foreign sales.

All is not negative for Pakistan. If we pay attention to these aspects that have been highlighted, Pakistan’s defence industry has very good prospects of expansion and export.

Prof. Dr. Rifaat Hussain is Head of the Department, Government, Policy and Public Administration, School of Social Sciences and Humanities, National University of Sciences and Technology (NUST), Islamabad.