Not to be confused with India's Credible minimum deterrence

The Minimum Credible Deterrence (MCD; officially names as N-deterrence[1][2]), is a defence and strategic principle on which the atomic weapons programme of Pakistan is based.[3] This doctrine is not a part of the nuclear doctrine, which is designed for the use of the atomic weapons in a full-scale declared war if the conditions of the doctrine are surpassed.[4] Instead, the policy of the Minimum Credible Deterrence falls under minimal deterrence as an inverse to the Mutually Assured Destruction (MAD), which is widely regarded as the designed to dissuade India from taking any military actions against Pakistan, as it did in 1971.[5] (see: Indo-Pakistani war of 1971) Pakistan has a no first attack policy in place since 1971. This policy was reiterated after the nuclear tests in 1998. Pakistan has vowed never to invade or attack another country under any circumstances. Pakistan's foreign minister Shamshad Ahmad had warned that if Pakistan is ever invaded or attacked, it will use "any weapon in its arsenal" to defend itself.[6]

Developmental history

The comprehensive nuclear weapons policy was addressed by populist prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto in a vision for the country to "walk tall" in global politics.[7] Maintaining equality on every level of scientific development with India was a primary motivation for his government.[4] Domestically, the popular support helped Bhutto to consolidated the political and economical aspects of atomic bomb projects and the control of the Pakistan military in the civilian hands.[4] This led the creation of formation of defence mechanism systematic programmes, known as National Command Authority (NCA), Joint Special Forces (JSF) under the control of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee which is led by its designated Chairman.[4] Externally, the nuclear status was a way to boost Pakistan's prestige, importance and influence on among the friendly and Muslim nations, including rich Gulf monarchies.[4]

On 20 May 1999, in his address at the National Defence University (NDU), Prime minister Nawaz Sharif used the term "minimum credible deterrence" while speaking about Pakistan’s nuclear stance.[8] There, the Prime minister (even the government at present now), made cleared Pakistan's nuclear declaratory statements that India is regarded as its sole nuclear adversary and thus the focus of its nuclear deterrent.[8]

The MCD theory is based on the principles of the deterrence theory and offers the idea of the achieving the second strike capability. The MCD theory is effectively, an ideal form of Nash equilibrium (named after mathematician John Forbes Nash), in which both India and Pakistan, once armed, has any rational incentive either to initiate a conflict or to disarm.

Promulgation and enforcement

The policy framework was announced by Prime minister of Pakistan (at that time) Nawaz Sharif after ordering to perform country's first atomic tests (see the operations: Chagai-I and Chagai-II) in 1998 as part of tit-for-tat policy.[4] In end of 1998, the doctrine and organisation began to be redesigned, and a proceeded to a full-scope scientific, economical and defence review, involving key country's institutions, to develop and test ideas and concepts.[4] The studies and policy were studied at the National Defence University (NDU), National University of Sciences and Technology, Institute of Defence and Strategic Studies (IDSS) and various others.[4]

Since the public atomic tests in 1998, Pakistan Government has adopted considerable recommendations and suggestions to think through its nuclear doctrine, and to integrate the nuclear power dimension into its defence strategy.[4] The definition of potential thresholds has been refined, at least in public statements by Pakistani officials. According to one reliable source, the country adopted a three-point nuclear policy in early 2001 as part of the minimum credible deterrence.[4] The most authoritative of these statements are provided by the officials of the Atomic Command Authority, in the form of four thresholds which were first mentioned by Khalid Kidwai in late 2001.[4]

Policy statements

The theory of "Minimum Credible Deterrence (MCD)" has been frequently being interpreted by the various government-in-time of effect of Pakistan. Although the MCD theory was officially adopted in 1998 as part of Pakistan's defence theory,[8] on the other hand, the theory has had been interpreted by the government since in 1972. On military perspective, for instance, the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), has retrospectively contended that "MCD is not view to enter into a "nuclear race", but to follow a policy of "peaceful co-existence" in the region, it cannot remain oblivious to the developments in South Asia."[9] The Pakistan Government officials have repeatedly emphasized that the MCD is a defence theory, a doctrine that is based on maintaining a balance to safeguard its sovereignty and ensure peace in the region.[10]

In 1974, Bhutto launched a more aggressive and serious diplomatic offensive on the United States and the Western world over the nuclear issues. Writing to the world and Western leaders, Bhutto made it clear and maintained:

Pakistan was exposed to a kind of "nuclear threat and blackmail" unparalleled elsewhere..... (...)... If the world's community failed to provide political insurance to Pakistan and other countries against the nuclear blackmail, these countries would be constraint to launch atomic bomb programs of their own!... [A]ssurances provided by the United Nations were not "Enough!"...
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, statement written in "Eating Grass", source[11]
If Pakistan restricts or suspends her nuclear deterrence, it would not only enable India to blackmail Pakistan with her nuclear advantage, but would impose a crippling limitation on the development of Pakistan's science and technology....
Zulfikar Ali Bhutto, 1969, source[12]
Pakistan's strategy of "minimum credible deterrence" guarantees "peace in the region", and the nuclear weapons programme is moving "strength to strength"...
Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, Times of India, [13]
The People of Pakistan are "security conscious" because of the (1971) severe trauma, and the three wars with (India). Our nuclear development was peaceful... but was "an effective deterrence to India"..... because (New Delhi) had detonated a nuclear device. She, Pakistan,...., thus, had to take every step to ensure its territorial integrity and sovereignty.....
Benazir Bhutto, Prime minister, Benazir Bhutto on Pakistan's nuclear weapons, source[2]
No matter whether we are recognized as "nuclear weapon-state or not, we are a Nuclear power. "Nuclear restraint", stabilization and "minimum credible deterrence" constitute the basic elements of Pakistan’s nuclear policy.,..
Nawaz Sharif, 1998, source[14]
Pakistan does not harbour any aggressive designs against any state, but it is determined to defend its territorial integrity.... That is why we need to maintain a balance in conventional forces suitably backed by minimum credible deterrence. Pakistan will continue to "develop her military potential that guarantees peace with honour and dignity". "Our military capability is basically for the deterrence purpose while peace remains the ultimate cherished goal for Pakistan..."
Yousaf Raza Gillani, describing the official nuclear weapons policy statement in 2012, source[15]

Rationale and Persuasion

The senior officials, economists, game theorists, and strategists affiliated with Pakistan's government has persuaded multiple times for maintaining the Minimum Credible Deterrence.[16] The government officials points out that "Indo-US nuclear deal as well as cooperation in conventional field is likely to grow in India's favour, thus accelerating arms race in the region".[16] Therefore, maintaining "minimum credible nuclear deterrence" would require Pakistan to review its nuclear policy.[16] The government officials maintained that while Pakistan will continue to act with responsibility avoiding an arms race, it will not remain oblivious to the imperative of maintaining "minimum credible nuclear deterrence".[16]

The unnamed official at the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI) stated that "the nuclear weapons programme has been exclusively driven by security considerations to ensure the survival and very existence of the state".[17] In 2012, Prime minister Yousaf Raza Gillani stated the comprehensive policy and quoted:

The State of Pakistan does not harbour any aggressive designs against any state, but it is determined to defend its territorial integrity. That is why, we need to maintain a balance in conventional forces suitably backed by minimum credible deterrence.... She (Pakistan) will continue to "develop her potential military deterrence that guarantees peace with honour and dignity....
Yousaf Raza Gillani, Prime minister of Pakistan (2008-2012), source[15]

In 2010, a high ranking science minister of government of Pakistan publicly announced at the international conference on science after delegating foreign ambassadors and scientists from all over the world: "Our nuclear capability is purely for defensive purposes, first believing in peaceful co-existence and reconciliation and will always strive for peace and prosperity in our region".[18]

See also


  1. Ghumman, Khawar (15 July 2011). "N-deterrence to be pursued". Dawn Newspapers, 2011. Dawn Newspapers Group. Retrieved 23 November 2012.
  2. 1 2 Siddiqi, Muhammad Ali (20 April 1995). "N-deterrent vital to security, says PM Bhutto". Los Angeles Times. Muhammad Ali Siddiqi, Los Angeles. Retrieved 18 November 2011.
  3. Farah Zahra, PhD (Political Science) (12 August 2011). "Credible minimum nuclear deterrence". Daily Times. Retrieved 19 July 2012. The nuclear arms race in South Asia is not purely a quantitative matter; it encompasses a qualitative dimension where the nuclear weapons and delivery systems on both sides are improving in quality as well ... dr. Farah Zahra
  4. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 IISS. "Nuclear policy, doctrine and planning Rationales for nuclear weapons". International Institute for Strategic Studies. International Institute for Strategic Studies. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  5. Kerr, Paul K.; Mary Beth Nikitin (10 May 2012 (first publish in 30 November 2011)). "Pakistan and Nuclear weapons" (PDF). United States Government. United States Congress: Congressional Research Services. p. 1. Retrieved 19 July 2012. Check date values in: |date= (help)
  6. https://books.google.co.uk/books?id=mdWCAgAAQBAJ&pg=PA343&lpg=PA343&dq=pakistan+will+use+any+weapon+in+its+arsenal&source=bl&ots=IrDJV1XGSA&sig=kFMNJHwbZA84idxrapVm7Zd66Ew&hl=en&sa=X&ved=0ahUKEwiq-cDLgp7KAhVBuBoKHaMcCCwQ6AEIRDAF#v=onepage&q=pakistan%20will%20use%20any%20weapon%20in%20its%20arsenal&f=false
  7. See: Nuclear policy, doctrine and planning, Rationales for nuclear weapons at the International Institute for Strategic Studies published page.
  8. 1 2 3 Abidi, Zawar Haider. "Threat Reduction in South Asia" (PDF). Zawar Haider Abidi. Zawar Haider Abidi. p. 6/15. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  9. ANI, ANI (22 March 2011). "Peace-loving' Pakistan to continue credible minimum nuke deterrence policy.". The Yahoo News!. Retrieved 21 July 2012. Pakistan does not wish to enter into a nuclear arms race, but will continue to maintain the policy of credible minimum deterrence, Pakistan's Air Force chief Marshal Rao Qamar Suleman has said
  10. Staff report (28 February 2006). "Pakistan will maintain minimum credible deterrence". Daily Times. Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  11. Khan, Feroz Hassan (22 November 2012). "The Route to Nuclear Ambition". Eating grass: The making of the Pakistani bomb (google book). Stanford, California: Stanford University Press. pp. 119–120. ISBN 978-0804776011. Retrieved 9 January 2013.
  12. Babar (M.Sc. in Civil Engineering), Farhatullah. "Bhutto's Footprints on Nuclear Pakistan". Zulfikar Ali Bhutto "The Myth of Independence". Farhatullah Babar and Courtesy The News International. Retrieved 26 January 2012.
  13. Anjali, Ghosh (2009). India's Foreign Policy Pakistan Factor. New Delhi: Repro India Ltd. p. 92. ISBN 978-8131710258.
  14. Khan, Zafar. "Pakistan's authorization of the nuclear testing programme: External and Internal Pressures" (PDF). Zafar Khan, game theorist and nuclear stategist at the Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI). Islamabad Policy Research Institute (1998). Retrieved 21 July 2012.
  15. 1 2 Staff reports (March 31, 2012 |). "Pakistan to maintain conventional balance: PM". The Nation,. Retrieved 19 July 2012. Our military capability is basically for deterrence purpose while peace remains the ultimate cherished goal for us. We believe that military weakness invites aggression from stronger nations Check date values in: |date= (help)
  16. 1 2 3 4 Rasheed Khalid (2 February 2011). "Pakistan has to maintain minimum credible nuclear deterrence: expert". The News International. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  17. Saman Zulfiqar. "Pak minimum deterrence posture". Pakistan observer. Retrieved 19 July 2012.
  18. Press Release (Our nuclear capability is purely for defensive purposes. We believe in peaceful co-existence and reconciliation and will always strive for peace and prosperity in our region... Ministry of Science (Government of Pakistan)). "Pakistan's nuclear capability is purely for defensive purposes" (PDF). Pakistan Atom Publishers. Pakistan Atom Publishers. Retrieved 19 July 2012. Check date values in: |date= (help)

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