The international system of cooperation, competition, and conflict are rather anarchic, without logical fundamental rules and principles. That makes our world more complicated and dangerous. With the passage of time, new events occur, beginning locally and spreading globally. Such events may change the system rapidly for good and for bad, making it both more dynamic and forward-looking but also more backward-looking.
In the international system, the survival of states is the most important priority, and with time and circumstances, the states not only change their policies but also shape their structures and behavior to prevail and expand. Currently, many international events happen, including trade wars and other efforts, and states are fighting for improved regional and global positions. This has started a new race of competition among states. Many states, especially the larger ones, focus more on acquiring and improving advanced and destructive technologies.
With technological advancement, the world has become more insecure, with new, non-traditional threats gaining importance over traditional threats.
In the past, one threat was usually faced only by one state at a time. Now, more often, one threat is faced by many states at the same time. These threats that are faced by all states, multifaceted in nature, can be termed as non-traditional threats. Non-traditional threats are more dangerous, complicated, and unpredictable. This shift gives rise to new defense thinking and what is known as ‘fifth-generation warfare’. In ‘fifth-generation warfare’ the destruction would be massive, but the bloodshed low or zero. According to international theorists and thinkers, 2020 is the year in which states may again use illegal biological weapons and other hitherto not used weapons in ‘fifth-generation warfare’ and through that gain increased regional and global political and economic poser.
New deadly viruses and diseases are emerging, and theorists believe that it has to do with the testing and planning of biological warfare. As we all know, or believe is the case, in December 2019, a deadly virus emerged from an animal market in Wuhan, China, and after a few days and weeks, the virus had spread to more than 160 countries. The spread of the Coronavirus was within weeks declared a global pandemic by the World Health Organization. The whole world is suffering from a deadly virus, and no vaccine has yet been found to counter the spread of the virus. All developing and developed countries are victims of this novel pandemic.
The Coronavirus pandemic is a new, non-traditional threat to all countries. Depending on their ability and financial strength, all states have invested large amounts of money for measures that they hope will reduce the spread of the pandemic. Yet, in spite of the WHO declaring Corona a global pandemic, still many developed and developing states kept maintaining and even increasing their military spending. At the same time, the health, education, and other social sector fields remain underfunded by many states.
So far, there are some 39,282,036 confirmed cases of people infected by the Coronavirus, and 1,104,435 have lost their lives. Still, the health sector at large and treatment facilities that can help Coronavirus patients remain underfunded; decision-makers and politicians and other decision-makers keep focusing on traditional threats.
Pakistan has a defense budget of Rs. 1,289 billion for the fiscal year 2020-21. The health budget is only Rs. 25.25 billion.
However, it is higher than the previous year when it was only Rs. 11 billion. We are on the right track, yet, the budget is a thousand times lower than the defense budget.
We usually claim that we are surrounded by hostile states and that is why we need to spend more on defense. Also, our most hostile state, India, has the same issue and it, too, spends more on the defense sector rather than health. India is one of the worst affected countries from the raging non-traditional threat, the Corona pandemic; almost 8 million people have been infected and around 112k people have lost their lives from the pandemic.
I hope that politicians, experts, and ordinary people will in the future give more attention to non-traditional threats to security than hitherto. True, it will take time to realize the seriousness of the situation and change the course of our thinking, policies, allocation of funds, and action. But we must not slumber and take too much time; the matter is indeed urgent. And, experts say that the Corona pandemic was just the first of its kind and probably not the deadliest either.
by Akhter Khan.
The writer is a master’s student of IR.