Pakistan’s policies on Arms Control, Non-Proliferation and Disarmament issues

  1. Nuclear non-proliferation

Pakistan is a strong supporter of multilateralism and continues to play a leading role for international peace and security. Pakistan considers that peace and stability can only be ensured through a strong non-discriminatory rules-based international order. A  robust  non-proliferation  regime  is  the  central  pillar  of  such  a  rules-based order. Therefore, Pakistan stands committed to the objectives of nuclear non-proliferation and disarmament for the benefit of all humankind.

After 1974, when the first nuclear test was conducted in our neighborhood, Pakistan made several proposals for keeping South Asia free of nuclear weapons and missiles. These included simultaneous application of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards on all nuclear facilities and bilateral arrangement for their reciprocal inspections; simultaneous accession to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT); regional CTBT; Zero Missile Regime in South Asia; and signing of a Non-Aggression Pact. Unfortunately, none of these proposals met a favorable response.

Pakistan was not the first to introduce nuclear weapons in South Asia. It was forced to develop nuclear capability for self defence. After 1998, Pakistan proposed the establishment of a Strategic Restraint Regime (SRR) in South Asia. The SRR is premised on three interlocking and mutually reinforcing elements of conflict resolution, nuclear and missile restraint and conventional balance. If taken up in earnest, this proposal can lay the foundation of lasting peace and stability in the region.

Pakistan will continue to contribute towards achieving non-proliferation objectives on an equal footing as a partner of the international community. We seek a non-discriminatory global regime on non-proliferation that is principle-based, inclusive and underpinned by the cardinal principle of equal and undiminished security for all states. Genuine progress on disarmament necessitates a conducive regional and global security environment as well as the resolution of long-standing disputes and conflicts.

  1. CTBT

Pakistan has consistently supported the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). It actively participated in the negotiations that led to the finalization of the CTBT in the Conference on Disarmament. Pakistan voted for the Treaty when it was adopted by the U.N. General Assembly in 1996.  Pakistan has been an accredited Observer State of the Preparatory Commission of the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO). Despite being a non-signatory state, Pakistan been supporting the objectives and purposes of the Treaty. Pakistan observes unilateral moratorium on nuclear testing. Secondly, it has announced that it was not the first country to test and will not be the first to resume testing of nuclear weapons in South Asia.

  • Outer Space

The outer space domain is being used by an increasing number of States, both for civilian and military purposes. While our dependence on outer space applications is on the rise, the risk of its weaponization is also growing. The development and deployment of Anti-Ballistic Missile systems and their integration into space assets as well as the testing of Anti-Satellite weapons further jeopardizes the peaceful uses of outer space. These concerns need to be addressed in a comprehensive treaty on Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS).

Pakistan regularly co-sponsors the resolution on PAROS under UN General Assembly each year, calling on the CD to establish a working group on PAROS as early as possible. Pakistan has also been co-sponsoring every year since 2013 the resolution titled “No First Placement of Weapons in Outer Space”. 

While recognizing the value of Transparency and Confidence building Measures (TCBMs) as well as other non-legally binding measures in promoting trust and confidence among states, Pakistan does not see such voluntary measures as a substitute for legally-binding treaty-based obligations. There are clear gaps in the international legal regime governing the use of outer space with grave security implications. These gaps can only be plugged by concluding a treaty on PAROS that prohibits the placement of weapons in outer space and also bans the threat or use of force against outer space objects.

  1. New and emerging technologies

The relentless pace of emerging weapons technologies, driven by scientific innovations, carries serious implications. The rapid development of new weapon systems in the conventional domain poses a threat to peace, security and stability at the regional and global levels. The development of Lethal Autonomous Weapon Systems (LAWS) has emerged as a major cause of concern for the international and regional peace and security as they lower the threshold of war.

Developments in the field of Artificial Intelligence (AI) need to be appropriately tackled and regulated. They should not outpace the evolution of regulations governing them. States currently developing such weapons should meaningfully engage with the international community in addressing their concerns.

Pakistan strongly feels that an international legally binding framework should be evolved to regulate different aspects of LAWS.

Cyber warfare poses serious challenges to international peace and security. The hostile use of cyber technologies is fast approaching the stage where it can be characterized as weapon of mass destruction, and not just disruption.It is time to move the issue to a universal multilateral setting, including at the Conference on Disarmament (CD), to develop an international consensus on addressing the security and arms control related dimensions of this vital issue.  

The trans-border unauthorised use of armed drones outside of international armed conflict, especially against civilians, constitutes a violation of International Law, the UN Charter, International Humanitarian Law as well as International Human Rights Laws. Their use also contravenes State sovereignty and the UN Charter restrictions on the legitimate use of force for self-defence purpose only. Moreover, the threat of non-state actors and terrorists acquiring armed drones cannot be ruled out. All of these factors necessitate the development of appropriate international regulations on the employment of armed drones.

  1. Conventional Arms

Pakistan is a party to the Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons (CCW) and all of its five Protocols, and remains fully compliant with their provisions. Pakistan is proud of its active contribution to de-mining and ERW clearance efforts world over, particularly under UN peace-keeping operations, to which Pakistan remains one of the largest troop contributors. The success of the CCW lies in the delicate balance that it seeks to maintain between humanitarian considerations and the legitimate security interests of States.

CCW also provides the most appropriate forum for addressing the issue of Improvised Explosive Devices in a comprehensive and balanced manner. Pakistan shares the concerns about the acquisition and use by non-state actors and terrorists of IEDs as well as various types of conventional weapons.

At national level, Pakistan has developed the necessary legislative, regulatory, enforcement and institutional mechanisms to address the range of issues relating to conventional arms’ regulation. These are consistent with the practices being followed by the Wassenaar Arrangement.

Given the direct and causal relationship between conventional weapons asymmetries and reliance on nuclear deterrence, Pakistan underscores the need for the CD to address the issue of balanced reduction of armed forces and conventional armaments as a part of a comprehensive and balanced Programme of Work.

  1. FMCT

Pakistan supports negotiations on all agenda items including PAROS, NSAs, Nuclear Disarmament and FMCT, at the Conference on Disarmament that promote the objectives of disarmament and non-proliferation equitably and through consensus based approach. Pakistan would like any Fissile Material Treaty (FMT) to include in its scope not just the future production of fissile material but also the past production. A treaty which only results in a cut-off in the future production of fissile material would bring no added value to the cause of nuclear disarmament. It will freeze the existing asymmetries in fissile materials at the global and regional levels and therefore jeopardize the objective of security and stability.

  • Nuclear safety and security

Pakistan considers nuclear safety and security as a national responsibility and accords it the highest priority. It has been proactively engaged with the international community to promote nuclear safety and security. It has ensured that nuclear and radioactive materials and all related facilities are protected throughout Pakistan.

Pakistan has established a unified command and control known as ‘National Command Authority’ (NCA) chaired by the Prime Minister which exercises control over nuclear security and other aspects. Strategic Plans Division serves as the Secretariat of the NCA.

The  Pakistan  Nuclear  Regulatory  Authority  (PNRA),  an  autonomous body,  has  developed  a  sustainable  nuclear  safety  regulatory  system  for  power reactors, and established response and recovery capabilities for radiological sources. PNRA  continues  to  review  and  update  its  regulations  in  light  of  extensive national experience and IAEA safety standards. The regulatory oversight program of PNRA  is  based  on  international  proven  practices  and  has  been  subjected  to  peer reviews  by  the  experts  from  other  nuclear  regulatory  bodies  through  various  IAEA Expert Missions.

The details of Pakistan’s nuclear security regime can be accessed at:

  • Implementation of UNSC resolutions

Pakistan shares the concerns about proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) and their means of delivery to non-state actors. Pakistan has been fully implementing UNSCR 1540 since 2004. Pakistan has shared the periodic national reports with the 1540 committee, outlining legislative, regulatory, administrative and organizational steps that have been undertaken including in pursuit of UNSCR 1540 implementation.

Pakistan is fully implementing the UNSC sanctions resolutions aimed at preventing proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), banning unauthorized economic and financial activities and imposing travel bans, assets freeze etc. on the listed entities and individuals.

In this regard, the Ministry has issued series of Statutory Regulatory orders (SROs) to implement UNSC resolutions. The same may be accessed at:

  1. Chemical and Biological Weapons

Pakistan is a party to the Conventions prohibiting Biological and Chemical Weapons – the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) and the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC).

Pakistan signed the CWC on 13 January 1993 and ratified it as a “Non-CW Possessor State” on 28 October 1997. Pakistan has fulfilled its national implementation obligations under the Convention. As per Convention’s requirement (Article VII), Pakistan established its National Authority (NA) in Ministry of Foreign Affairs, as National Focal Point to carry out liaison and coordination with the Organization on Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW) for all matters related to the Convention.  A national legislation has been promulgated for the purpose of meeting national obligations under the CWC.

The CWC NA is headed by a Director General who functions under the Foreign Secretary. NA draws upon services of technical experts from relevant departments.

Pakistan has continued to meet all its CWC obligations and has declared several facilities relating to industrial and agricultural chemical production. The NA has regularly submitted Annual Declarations on a National Programme for Protection Against Chemical Weapons. The NA has successfully facilitated several inspections, which have recognized the requisite standards of safety, security and accounting.

The NA has also continued to effectively engage with all national stakeholders through regular outreach activities. It has prepared an inspection manual and has regularly conducted mock inspections of our declared chemical industries. National assistance and protection exercises are regularly organized.

Pakistan ratified the BTWC in 1974.As a multilaterally negotiated and non-discriminatory instrument, Pakistan fully subscribes to BWC’s objectives.

Pakistan has instituted comprehensive legislative, regulatory and administrative measures to regulate life sciences in Pakistan and to strengthen export control systems on biological agents and toxins.

Pakistan along with other State parties submits Confidence Building Measures (CBMs) as a useful tool for increasing transparency and building trust among States Parties in implementation the Convention.

Pakistan will continue to remain engaged with the BWC process and support the effective implementation of the Convention in a balanced and comprehensive manner including its institutional strengthening. Pakistan believes that the most credible and sustainable method of strengthening the Convention is through multilateral negotiations aimed at concluding a legally binding Protocol that deals with all Articles of the Convention and includes appropriate verification provisions. 

Pakistan also attaches great importance to the safety and security of biological agents, facilities, technologies and equipment. In accordance with BTWC and International Health Regulations (IHR) 2005, Pakistan has introduced stringent bio-safety and bio-security measures in the country.Pakistan Bio-Safety Rules 2005, National Bio-safety Guidelines 2005, Plant Quarantine Act 1976 and Animal Quarantine Act 1979 deal with safety aspects of bio-related materials and facilities.

  1. Export controls

In pursuance of its commitment to non-proliferation, Pakistan has instituted a comprehensive legislative, regulatory and implementation system on transfer of sensitive goods and technologies and ensuring their safety and security at all stages. The Export Control Act on Goods, Technologies, Materials and Equipment related to Nuclear and Biological Weapons and their Delivery Systems Act– 2004 further strengthens controls on export of sensitive technologies related to nuclear and biological weapons and their means of delivery.

Pursuant to the Export Control Act 2004, the Strategic Export Control Division (SECDIV) was set up in 2007 as part of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, to administer export controls. An Oversight Board was also set up to monitor the implementation of Export Control Act 2004 including the functioning of SECDIV. Export Control (Licensing and Enforcement) Rules were notified in 2009. These rules set out complete procedures for licensing, enforcement, investigation, prosecution and implementation of the Act.

Export Controls in Pakistan are consistent with the practices, guidelines and control lists maintained by multilateral export control regimes including the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and Australia Group (AG).

Further details on Export Controls and SECDIV can be accessed at:

  1. Export Control Regimes

Multilateral export control regimes have significantly contributed to global non-proliferation efforts. In support of these global efforts, Pakistan continues to engage with all multilateral export control regimes. These regimes include: Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), Australia Group (AG), and Wassenaar Arrangement.

Pakistan believes that international export control regimes, while preventing proliferation of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs), should not hamper international cooperation in the peaceful uses of dual-use technology, which is essential for socio-economic development of the developing countries. Any regime, which is inclusive and takes into account the legitimate technology requirements of its partners for socio-economic development, is more likely to achieve a buy-in from states and pave the way for universal adherence. Following a non-discriminatory and objective criteria-based approach can also ensure that these export control regimes are continued to be seen as important components of global non-proliferation architecture.

Pakistan applied for membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) in May 2016.

Pakistan has been adhering to the NSG Guidelines and follows latest standards of nuclear safety and security, which have been recognized by the IAEA.As a country with significant nuclear programme and the ability to supply items controlled by the NSG, Pakistan’s participation in the NSG will further the non-proliferation objectives of the Group. Pakistan, therefore, sees its NSG membership as a mutually beneficial proposition.

Pakistan maintains that the NSG should consider and assess applications of all non-NPT countries against the same objective and non-discriminatory criteria. In doing so, the NSG will not only promote its non-proliferation goals but will also be seen as a rules-based organization.

  1. Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy

Pakistan continues to utilize its enormous potential of nuclear energy for sustainable socio-economic development. It is committed to utilize maximum benefits from the peaceful applications of nuclear energy in the diverse areas of power, health, agriculture, hydrology, industry environment and basic sciences.

In nuclear power sector, Pakistan is committed to keep all its civilian nuclear power facilities under IAEA Safeguards. Currently, five NPPs are in operation and two 1100 MWe each near Karachi are expected to be connected to the grid in next two years. Pakistan is proud to have more than 42 years’ experience in safe and secure operations of NPPs under IAEA safeguards. Pakistan believes that safe and sustainable nuclear energy is essential to advance its economic development plans while reducing carbon emissions, which contribute to climate change. Our Energy Security Plan of producing 40,000MW by 2050 aims to meet the future requirements of a growing population and economy. To realize this plan, Pakistan seeks international civil nuclear cooperation and looks forward to the removal of barriers for gaining equitable and non-discriminatory access to civil nuclear cooperation and membership of technology control regimes.

Eighteen cancer hospitals in Pakistan are providing facilities in nuclear medicine to nearly one million patients annually and contributing to SDG-3 on ‘good health & well-being’. For SDG-2 on ‘zero hunger’, the Agri & biotech institutes of Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission (PAEC) had developed 111 different crop varieties and millions of acres had been treated through Integrated Pest Management (IPM). As per SDG-7, for the provision of ‘affordable and clean energy’, five nuclear power plants are currently operational in the country and two more are under construction. The Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission is also contributing to the goals of ‘quality education’ under SDG-4 and ‘industry, innovation & infrastructure’ through promoting research and development in several training institutes, which is linked with SDG-9. These efforts have resulted in increased collaboration with CERN, including through manufacturing equipment for the world’s largest particle accelerator.


Science Diplomacy initiative

The role of science in diplomacy is not new. On the one hand diplomats have been instrumental in promoting scientific and technological collaboration between states while on the other S&T cooperation has been employed as a tool of diplomacy for soft, and sometimes hard, power projection. In the 21st century, however, science diplomacy has assumed increased significance given the scientific dimensions of the challenges related to climate change, environmental degradation, public health, energy, water and food security. Furthermore, the efforts for finding smarter and more cost effective solutions to the contemporary challenges necessitate international cooperation due to the global and trans-boundary nature of these challenges. Accordingly, science, technology and innovation have been recognized among the key drivers for the achievement of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda.

  1. With a view to leveraging international technical assistance available for Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and improving Pakistan’s access to smart technologies for addressing challenges related to climate change and environmental degradation, water conservation and management, child nutrition, disease surveillance and control, efficient agricultural methods etc. the Ministry of Foreign Affairs has launched the Science Diplomacy Initiative. The areas of focus under the Science Diplomacy initiative are aligned with the socio-economic development priorities of the current government and the UN SDGs. As such, Science Diplomacy will be employed as a tool for pursuing foreign policy objectives, in particular the goals outlined for economic diplomacy.
  2. The broad objectives of the Science Diplomacy initiative include the following:
  • Pursuit of foreign policy objectives and facilitating national development.
  • Fostering Pakistan’s international STI collaborations.
  • Bringing sharper focus in the foreign policy realm on SDGs implementation and government’s socio-economic development agenda.
  • Human resource development, capacity-building and training of Pakistani workforce at all levels.
  • Linking Pakistani centers of excellence with foreign centers of excellence in S&T with focus on addressing developmental challenges and pro-poor technologies.
  • Establishing and strengthening linkages and research collaboration between Pakistani universities and their foreign counterparts, standardization of research in Pakistan, human resource development, technical and vocational education for producing skilled manpower. Marketing of local universities for foreign students.
  • Matching labour skills with international labour market for enhancing employment opportunities for youth.
  • Improving competitive edge in trade and exploring markets for Pakistani technological products, goods and services, such as peaceful applications of nuclear technology in health, agriculture, industry.
  • Showcasing Pakistan’s progress in Science, Technology and Innovation.
  • Popularization of Science in Pakistan through collaborations at the national and international level.
  1. Several MoUs between Pakistani universities and International universities of good repute have been finalized. Efforts in this field have resulted in increase in post-graduate science scholarships for Pakistanis. The Science Diplomacy Division is also promoting international partnerships of public and private sector entities in health, agriculture, biotechnology and efficient management of water resources. The initiative seeks to mobilize scientists and professionals of Pakistan origin as well as local experts for promoting science diplomacy related activities and programmes through the creation of science and development councils under the auspices of Pakistan Missions abroad.
  2. It goes without saying that the success of the Science Diplomacy initiative of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs will move forward through close coordination and collaboration with the concerned Ministries/Departments and public and private sector entities which are relevant STI and the implementation of SDGs. Accordingly, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is continuously engaged with relevant stakeholders from the public and private sector in planning and carrying forward the Science Diplomacy initiative in a manner to maximize synergies and avoid duplication of effort. The role of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs is that of a facilitating platform while actions in specific areas will be lead by the relevant stakeholders. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs looks forward to closely engaging with the relevant Task Forces of the Prime Minister assigned the tasks for reinvigorating S&T and promoting knowledge-based economy in Pakistan.
  3. Besides its obvious socio-economic dimension, Science Diplomacy will afford us an opportunity to showcase Pakistan’s achievements in S&T and project a positive and progressive image of Pakistan and enhance Pakistan’s influence in the developing countries and the Muslim world.


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