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Military of Pakistan
101 JPG.jpg
Joint Services Parade in 2005.
Service branches
Headquarters Rawalpindi
Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Tariq Majid
Secretary of Defence Lt Gen (R) Syed Athar Ali
Chief of Army Staff
Chief of Air Staff
Chief of Naval Staff
Ashfaq Parvez Kayani
Rao Qamar Suleman
Noman Bashir
Military age 16-49 years old[1]
Available for
military service
39,028,014 males, age 16-49 (2007 estimate),
36,779,584 females, age 16-49 (2007 estimate)
Fit for
military service
29,428,747 males, age 16-49 (2007 estimate),
28,391,887 females, age 16-49 (2007 estimate)
Reaching military
age annually
1,969,055 males (2007 estimate),
1,849,254 females (2007 estimate)
Active personnel 619,000 (ranked 7th)
Reserve personnel 528,500
Budget $7.8 billion (ranked 23rd)
Percent of GDP 4.5 (2006 estimate)
Related articles
History Military history of Pakistan
UN peacekeeping missions
Weapons of mass destruction
Ranks Awards and decorations of the Pakistan military

The nuclear doctrine of Pakistan is the nuclear strategy policy stated by Pakistan to be used in the event of a war, particularly against India.

In the event of a war between Pakistan and India, the Indian numerical superiority in men and conventional arms is likely to overwhelm Pakistan. In a deteriorating military situation, when an Indian conventional attack is likely to break through Pakistani defenses, or has already breached the main defense line causing a major set-back to the defense, which cannot be restored by conventional means, the government would be left with no other option except to use nuclear weapons to stabilize the situation. India's superiority in conventional arms and manpower would have to be offset by nuclear weapons. The political will to use nuclear weapons is essential to prevent a conventional armed conflict, which could later on escalate into a nuclear war.

Pakistan's nuclear doctrine therefore is based on the first strike option. In other words, the Pakistani government will use nuclear weapons if attacked by India even if the attack is with conventional weapons. With his experience of a graduated nuclear response, Professor Stephen P. Cohen feels that Pakistan would use what he calls an 'option-enhancing policy'. This would entail a stage-by-stage approach in which the nuclear threat is increased at each step to deter India from attacking. These stages are as follows:

  1. A public or private warning.
  2. demonstration explosion of a small nuclear weapon on Pakistani soil.
  3. The use of (a) nuclear weapon(s) on Pakistani soil against Indian attacking forces.
  4. The use of (a) nuclear weapon(s) against critical but purely military targets on Indian soil, probably in thinly populated areas in the desert or semi-desert, causing the least collateral damage.

Some weapon systems would be in reserve for the counter-value role. These weapons would be safe from Indian attack as some would be airborne while the ground based ones are mobile and could be moved around the country.

Alternate doctrine

Starkly contrasting India, Pakistan has adopted a policy of nuclear first-use. In 1998, Pakistan's foreign secretary Shamsad Ahmed mentioned that Pakistan's policy implies that it will not only use nuclear weapons in a retaliatory strike, it is also ready to take the lead and use nuclear weapons first to counter Indian conventional aggression.

Two major factors have prompted Islamabad to adopt such a posture. First, a first-strike nuclear force is affordable in financial terms and is less cumbersome to build. As first-use policy purports a small nuclear arsenal, it is easier to manage once it is built and its command and control system is less complex compared to a second-strike nuclear force. This is also consistent with Pakistan's policy of minimum nuclear deterrence, another key feature of Pakistan's nuclear doctrine. Second, India's conventional power far outweigh Pakistan's; so a first-use policy is an 'equaliser' of this imbalance. Islamabad's policy in this context is reminiscent of NATO's adoption of a first-use policy during the Cold War period against conventionally superior Warsaw Pact forces in the European theatre. Pakistan's structural vulnerabilities - lack of go-strategic depth, proximity of missile and air bases and storage facilities to international borders and within the range of an Indian pre-emptive conventional strike, further exacerbate Pakistan's military inferiority, which reinforces the Pakistani rationale to adopt a first-use policy.

Despite its adoption of a first-use policy, Islamabad is yet to clearly state the circumstances or the 'red-lines' that will prompt a Pakistani first-use of nuclear weapons. According to a retired Pakistan Air Force officer, for example, Islamabad will use nuclear weapons first under the following conditions:

  1. Penetration of Indian forces beyond a certain defined line or crossing of a river.
  2. Imminent capture of an important Pakistani city like Lahore, Sialkot or the capital city Islamabad
  3. Destruction of Pakistan's conventional armed forces or other assets beyond an unacceptable level. This includes if the Pakistan Army is unable to halt an invasion or can no longer conduct offensive operations to push the invaders back to the international border. Also, if the Pakistan Air Force is destroyed or crippled to an extent where it can no longer conduct aerial operations such as no longer maintaining air superiority, cannot strike enemy targets or can no longer be able to provide air cover to the troops on the ground.
  4. An attack on any of Pakistan's strategic targets such as dams, bridges, military industries or nuclear installations like Tarbela, Mangla, Kahuta, Chashma, Taxila etc.
  5. Imposition of a naval blockade on Pakistan to an extent that it strangulates the continued transportation of vital supplies and adversely affects the war-waging stamina of the country. Pakistan's southern port cities of Karachi and Gwadar are blockaded and the Pakistan Navy is either destroyed to crippled to an extent where it cannot break the blockade or can no longer destroy enemy warships or conduct sea operations.
  6. Indian crossing of the Line of Control to a level that it threatens Pakistan's control over Pakistani-Administered Kashmir.
  7. Chemical or Biological weapons are used against either the Pakistan Armed forces or against the country itself.[2]


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