Nuclear Command, Control and Communications (NC3): The Case of Pakistan
Feroz Hassan Khan
The Pakistani command and control (C2) system evolved over a four-decade period following a national consensus that deemed the development of a nuclear deterrent a critical component of national security. Until the 1998 tests, Pakistan insisted its program was for peaceful purposes only; even two decades later, a culture of secrecy and deliberate ambiguity continues to surround the program. Pakistan political governance vacillates between a presidential system and parliamentary system under constitutional amendments, which has affected the credibility of political control over national security. Military the strongest institution in the country is the keeper of national security. The nuclear domain is the exclusive purview of the Strategic Plans Division (SPD) at the Joint Service Headquarters (JSHQ). After the passage of National Authority Act in 2010, JSHQ and SPD were bestowed with powers as the de jure and de facto authority on all nuclear matters on behalf of the Prime Minister.
Providing a fresh historical perspective, Feroz Khan illustrates the unique challenges facing Pakistan’s NC3 systems. When considering the rapid pace of technological advancements, Khan concludes, “as NC3 gains sophistication, control of partial or full pre-delegation regimes would likely be refined to overcome the never/always dilemma of deployed arsenals in the field.”
The paper is accompanied by a Fourth Leg podcast: An Altogether Different Set Of Challenges.