Pakistan is located in Southern Asia, covering an area of almost 800.000km2, with neighbors such as China, India, Afghanistan and Iran. The population of Pakistan is almost 200 million people which are roughly separated in 4 major social groups: Punjabis, Pathans, Sindhis and Balochs. Although famous for their long-time dispute with India over the Kashmir region, Pakistan is facing serious security issues with the Taliban which are controlling the northern part of the country. The fact that the Taliban forces are spread throughout northern Pakistan and wide areas of Afghanistan doesn’t come as a surprise, but their growing presence near Islamabad represents a major threat to the Pakistanis army and their nuclear arsenal.
Written by Igor Pejic
Pakistan has waged many battles against Al-Qaeda and other radical groups with the support of the US and other international forces, yet this help doesn’t come without a price. Assistance in fighting against terrorism was provided via unmanned aerial vehicles – drones which were operated by the US Central Intelligence Agency division. Although deadly for militants, drone strikes have caused many civilian casualties while operating since 2004. After the tragic incident in Salala which ended in more than twenty dead Pakistani soldiers, drone strikes have been halted and the relations between Pakistan and NATO have become colder. Nevertheless the US still treats Pakistan as one of the most important allies in the region and the biggest non-NATO ally. This is mainly due to the Pakistan’s nuclear armament. If somehow the Taliban tribes get the better of Pakistan’s army and acquire nuclear weapons they will probably deliver the nuclear warheads around the globe .
Although facing this worst-case scenario, Pakistan is relentless in their pursuit for better and larger nuclear arsenal. The country tested its first nuclear weapon in 1998 and since then it has one of the fastest growing nuclear arsenals in the world, adding as much as ten weapons per year. Increasing plutonium production and uranium-enrichment program, Pakistan could have the fifth or even third largest arsenal by 2020. Delivery systems have also been upgraded. Mirage-5 and F-16 squadrons are supported by short and medium range ballistic missiles such as Hatf-II 180km, Hatf-III 300km, Hatf-IV 700km, Hatf-V 900-1200 km range. This also includes short range missiles as 60km Hatf-IX and dual cruise missiles Hatf-VII 700 km range. All these systems contribute to ”full spectrum deterrence” and make a clear statement that the country is capable of defending its territory by conventional weapons as well as using tactical “nukes”.
Until 2008, the main concern for the Pakistanis military was India and their territorial claims over the Kashmir region. After 2008, Pakistan’s military has been actively battling Taliban insurgents and other radical groups which threaten the stability of the country. The Military has about 644,000 active troops deployed across ground forces – 550,000; Navy 23,800; Air 70,000 and Paramilitary of 304,000 units.
The Army of Pakistan has about 550,000 active units (500,000 reserves) and is divided into 9 corps, each of which has its own HQ across the country.
I Corps-Mangla Cantonment, Punjab
– 6th Armored Division headquartered at Gujranwala
– 17th Infantry Division headquartered at Kharian
– 37th Infantry Division headquartered at Kharian
– 11th Separate Armored Brigade
– Separate Air Defence Brigade
– Separate Artillery Brigade
– Separate Infantry Brigade
II Corps-Multan, Punjab
– 1st Armored Division headquartered at Multan
– 14th Infantry Division headquartered at Okara
– 40th Infantry Division headquartered at Okara
– Separate Armored Brigade
– Separate Air Defence Brigade
– Separate Artillery Brigade
– Separate Infantry Brigade
IV Corps-Lahore, Punjab
– 2nd Artillery Division headquartered at Gujranwala
– 10th Infantry Division headquartered at Lahore
– 11th Infantry Division headquartered at Lahore
– 3rd Independent Armored Brigade
– 212th Infantry Brigade
– Separate Artillery Brigade
V Corps-Karachi, Sindh
– 16th Infantry Division headquartered at Pano Aqil
– 18th Infantry Division headquartered at Hyderabad
– 25th Mechanized Division headquartered at Malir
– 31st Mechanized Brigade headquartered at Malir
– 2nd Separate Brigade headquartered at Malir
– Separate Armored Brigade
– Separate Artillery Brigade
X Corps-Rawalpindi, Punjab
– 12th Infantry Division headquartered at Muree
– 19th Infantry Division headquartered at Mangla
– 23rd Infantry Division headquartered at Jhelum
– Force Command Northern Areas – headquartered at Gilgit
– 111th Infantry Brigade headquartered at Rawalpindi
– 8th Armored Brigade headquartered at Kharian
– Independent Artillery Brigade
XI Corps- Peshawar, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa
– 7th Infantry Division headquartered at Peshawar
– 9th Infantry Division headquartered at Kohat
– Separate Armored Brigade headquartered at Nowshera
XII Corps- Quetta, Balochistan
– 33rd Infantry Division headquartered at Quetta
– 41st Infantry Division headquartered at Quetta
– Separate Infantry Brigade headquartered at Turbat
– Separate Armored Brigade headquartered at Khuzdar
– Artillery Division headquarters at Pano Aqil
XXX Corps- Gujranwala, Punjab
– 8th Infantry Division headquartered at Sialkot
– 15th Infantry Division headquartered at Sialkot
– 2nd Separate Armored Brigade
– Separate Anti-Tank Brigade
– Separate Artillery Brigade
XXXI Corps- Bahawalpur, Punjab
– 26th Mechanized Division headquartered at Bahawalpur
– 35th Infantry Division headquartered at Bahawalpur
– 13th Separate Armored Brigade
– 101st Separate Infantry Brigade
Army Air Defence Command – HQ at Rawalpindi
– 3rd Air Defence Division headquartered at Sargodha
– Air Defence Division headquartered at Malir
Army Strategic Forces Command – HQ at Rawalpindi
– 21st Division headquartered at Pano Aqil
– 22nd Division headquartered at Sargodha
The Directorate of the Military intelligence also known as “Military Intelligence” (MI) is the intelligence office for Pakistan’s Army, its headquarters are based in Rawalpin. The MI is composed entirely of uniformed officers who are tasked with gathering intelligence, finding and eliminating sleeper cells, and other anti-state elements which threaten the country. The MI works in coordination with the Air and Naval Intelligence of the Pakistan Army. The agency was created in the 50s by Major General Robert Cawthom, The agency was most active in the 80s when was the countering the operations of the Pakistan Communist Party and during the Kargil Conflict in 1999.
The directorate for Inter-Service Intelligence also know as Inter-Service Intelligence (ISI) is the primary intelligence service of Pakistan. The agency is responsible for providing crucial national security and intelligence for the government of Pakistan. ISI was established in 1948 in the aftermath of the Indo-Pakistan war in 1947. From the beginning, the agency has been led by a three-star general officer in the Pakistan Army. Currently the HQ of this agency is in Islamabad with three separate wings: Internal wing – dealing with counter-intelligence and political issues inside Pakistan; External wing – handling external issues; Analysis and Foreign Relations wing. This agency made great efforts in helping the Taliban and Mujahedeen during the Soviet war in Afghanistan, and later in the 90s, ISI provided crucial information and situation assessment for the Taliban while fighting the Northern Alliance.
Departments of Inter-Service Intelligence:
– Covert Action Division responsible for paramilitary and covert operations as well as special activities.
– Joint intelligence coordinating all the other departments in the ISI.
– Joint intelligence bureau responsible for gathering political intelligence.
– Joint counterintelligence bureau responsible for surveillance of Pakistan’s diplomats and diplomatic agents abroad.
– Joint intelligence “North” exclusively responsible for the Jammu and Kashmir region and the Northern Areas.
– Joint intelligence miscellaneous responsible for espionage, including offensive intelligence operations, in other countries.
– Joint Signal intelligence bureau operates intelligence collections along the India-Pakistan border.
– Joint intelligence technical deals with development of science and technology to advance the Pakistan intelligence gathering.
– Special Service Directorate which monitors the terrorist groups activities that operate in Pakistan against the state of Pakistan.
– Political internal division monitoring the funding of the right-wing political science sphere against the left-wing political science circles.
The state has a couple of special forces groups, most of which are in the military with the exception the Elite Police unit and SCU.
The Special Service Group (SSG) is an elite group for land operations and the parent force of the other special units in Pakistan. SSG is a regiment-sized group divided into 10 battalions with headquarters in Tarbela. The group was formed in the 50s and has a long history of various operations. One of their first assignments was to repel the Afghan incursions into Pakistan. Later on they participated in the Indo-Pakistan war in 1965 and 1971. During the Soviet invasion of Afghanistan some of the troops in the SSG came into contact with the Soviet forces, allegedly there were clashes between Soviet paratroopers and the Special Service Group. The SSG participated in international missions as well. Regions such as Afghanistan, Saudi Arabia, Libya, Bosnia, Kosovo were one of them.
The Pakistan Marines are an expeditionary naval warfare branch of the Pakistan Armed Forces and consist of high-ranking officers and personnel of Pakistan’s Navy. The Marines are responsible for providing force projection from sea using the capabilities of the Navy, thus delivering combined-arms task forces. Established in 1990, it’s estimated that around 2,000 active units are in the Pakistan Marines. Looking at the military leadership structure, the Marines are a component of Pakistan’s Navy, actively participating in training, logistics, executing expeditionary operations with the Navy. The primary task of this group is defending the naval installations and monitoring the disputed Sir Creek border with India. Pakistan’s Naval Station Qasim is the naval base of the Pakistan Marines with the responsibility of maintaining various tasks: logistics, operational readiness, conducting basic training for Marines, supervision, ceremonial duties etc.
The Special Service Group Navy SSG(N) is the elite force of Pakistan’s Navy. The SSG(N) is deployed in various occasions including direct action and special reconnaissance missions, unconventional warfare, hostage rescue and counter-terrorism. The SSG(N) numbers between 700-1000 units, however the actual strength is classified. The formation of this group began after the Indo-Pakistan war in 1965. Following the advices of the US Navy, Pakistan decided to create its own special warfare unit. Recognizing the need for unconventional warfare, the government of Pakistan allowed the creation of SSG(N) in 1966. Much of SSG(N) is modeled by the US Seals, some of the troops are even sent to the United States for specialized training. The current HQ is based in Karachi.
The Special Service Wing SSW is a special operation unit of Pakistan’s Air Force. The unit is based upon US Army Rangers and US Air Force Special Tactics Squadron. The group was formed after 1965, same as SSG(N), the Air Force personnel and soldiers were merged with the Special Service Group with most of the members actively participating in the Afghan war in the 80s. The HQ of the group are based in Kallar Kahar-Punjab. The size of the SSW is between 800-1200 units.
The Elite Police or Police Commandos is a branch of Punjab’s Police which specializes in counter-terrorism and VIP security duties, as well as acting against serious crimes and high-risk situations. The group was formed in 1998 and expended in 2004 with more than 5000 new personnel. In the beginning, the main focus of this special force unit was counter-terrorism but in time its duties had been expended.
The Special Combat Unit (SCU) was formed in 2015 as a counter-terrorist group with the capability of rapid deployment. The HQ and trainings are currently being held in Nowshera. The group can be classified as light infantry with 150 troops. Although trained in military manner, SCU is a police special unit.
Armored: 2 armored divisions with 7 separate armored brigades.
Mechanized: 2 mechanized infantry divisions with 1 separate mechanized brigade.
Light: 18 infantry divisions with 5 separate infantry brigades.
Aviation: 5 composite aviation squadrons and 10 helicopter squadrons.
Combat Support is provided by 9 (corps) artillery brigades with 5 separate artillery brigades and 7 engineering brigades.
MAIN EQUIPMENT BY TYPE:
The Main battle tanks of the army are Al-Khalid and Al-Zarrar which were produced in a joint cooperation between Pakistan and China.
Armored personnel carriers – 1,390:
APC (T) 1.260: M113 Talha
APC (W) 120 BTR-70/BTR-80
PPV 10 Dingo II
ARTILERY – 4,500:
The self-propelled artillery 375: 155mm 315: 200 M109A2; ε115 M109A5 203mm 60 M110/M110A2
Towed 1,659: 105mm 329: 216 M101; 122mm 570: 80 D-30 (PRC); 490 Type-54 M-1938; 130mm 410 Type-59-I; 155mm 322: 144 M114; 148 M198; ε30 Panter; 203mm 28 M115.
Multiple rocket launcher: 88 107mm Type 81; 122mm 52: 52 Azar ( Type-83); some KRL-122; 300mm 36 A100
Mortar 2350 : 81mm; 120mm AM-50; M-61
Man-portable anti-tank systems or MANPATS 11,100: 10.500 HJ-8/TOW; 600 9K119 Refleks (AT-11 Sniper)
Guns 85mm 200 Type-56 (D-44)
Helicopters: ATK 42: 25 AH-1F Cobra with TOW; 16 AH-1S Cobra; 1 Mi-24 Hind
Pakistan’s Navy is securing the long shore from Iran to India with battleships as well as military submarines. In their arsenal there are vessels of national production such as Jalat II and Jurat ships which serve as costal guard or fast attack craft. The ambitious project regarding the nuclear submarine should be put into production between 2017-2020.
Submarines: 2 Hashmat (FRA Agosta 70) with 4 single 533mm ASTT with F17p HWT/UGM-84 Harpoon AShm.
3 Khalid (FRA Agosta 90B – 1 wit AIP) with 4 single 533mm ASTT with F17 Mod 2 GWT/SM-39 Exocet AShM.
Princpial surface combatants/Frigates: FFGHM 4 Sword (PRC Type-054) with 2 quad launcher with YJ-83 (c-802) AShM, 1 octuple launcher with HQ-7 SAM, 2 triple 324mm ASTT with Mk 46 LWT, sextuple Type 87 A/S mor, 1 Type 730B CIWS, 1 76mm gun, (capacity 1 Z-9C Haitun Hel).
FFGH 3: 2 Tariq (UK Amazon) with 2 twin Mk141 launcher with RGM-84D Harpoon AShM, 2 triple 324mm ASTT with Mk 46 LWT, 1 Phalanx Block 1B COWS, 1 114mm gun, (capacity 1 hel). 1 Tariq (UK Amazon) with 2 quad Mk141 launcher with RGM-84-D Harpoon AShM, 2 single TT with TP 45 LWT, 1 Phalanx Block 1B CIWS, 1 114mm gun, (capacity 1 hel).
FFHM 3 Tariq (UK Amazon) with 1 sextuple launcher with LY-60 (Aspide) SAM, 2 sinlge TT with TP 45 LWT, 1 Phalanx Block 1B CIWS, 1 114mm gun, (capacity 1 hel).
FFH 1 Alamgir (US Oliver Hazard Perry) with 2 triple 24mm ASTT with Mk46 LWT, Phalanx CIWS, 1 76mm gun.
Patrol and costal combatants: PCG 2 Azmat (PRC Houjian mod) with 2 quad launcher with YJ-83 (C-802A) AShM, 1 AK630 CIWS.
PBFG 2 Zarrar each with 4 single each with RGM-84 Harpoon AShM.
PBG 4: 2 Jalalat II with 2 twin launcher with C-902 (CSS-N-8 Saccade) AShM. 2 Jurrat with 2 twin launcher with C-802 (CSS-N-8 Saccade) AShM.
Mine warfare / Mine countermeasures: MHC 3 Munsif (FRA Eridan)
Amphibious: Landing craft UCAC 4 Griffon 2000
Logistics and support: AGS 1 Behr Paima. AOL 2 Madagar
The Air Force is placed under three regional commands: the Northern in Peshawar, the Central in Sargodha and the Southern in Masroor. This allows better control of the country’s air space and strategic position in case of a foreign aggression.
Forces by role
Fighter: 2 squadrons with F-7p/FT-7p Skybolt. 3 squadrons with F-7PG/FT-7GP Airguard. 1 squadron with F16A/B Fighting Falcon. 1 squadron with Mirage IIID/E (IIIOP/EP).
Fighter/Ground attack: 1 squadron with JF-17 Thunder (FC-1). 1 squadron (forming) with JF-17 Thunder (FC-1). 1 squadron with F-16C/D Block 52 Fighting Falcon. 3 squadrons with Mirage 5 (5PA).
Electronic Warfare/ ELINT: 1 squadron with Falcon 20F.
Tanker: 1 squadron with II-78 Midas.
Transport: 1 squadron with C-130B/E Hercules; CN-235M-220; L-100-20. 1 VIP squadron with B-707; Cessna 560XL Citation Excel; CN-235M-220; F-27-200 Friendship; Falcon 20E; Gulfstream IVSP. 1 squadron with EMB-500 Phenom 100; Y-12 (II).
Air Defence: 1 bty with CSA-1 (SA-2 Guideline); 9K310 Igla-1 (SA-16 Gimlet). 6 bty with Crotale. 10 bty with SPADA 2000.
After the Indo-Pakistan war in 1971 which resulted in a crushing defeat for Pakistan (loosing roughly 150,000 km2 of territory), the country sought a way out of that bad situation. Pakistan Nuclear development program began in January 1972, with the idea to have the bomb ready by 1976. With much complication of the project, as well as lack of professional staff, the first test was conducted in May 1998. Pakistan is the first country with Muslim majority to have nuclear weapons, though the need for these weapons of mass destruction derives mainly from the fact that India possesses such as well.
Although having serious security issues in the country, and not being a member of the Non-Proliferation Treaty, Pakistan has never been labeled as a country that has an offensive chemical or biological program. On the anniversary of the first nuclear test in May 2009, the Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif claimed that Pakistan’s nuclear security is one of the strongest in the world.
Pakistan’s nuclear program still pushes forward. There are reports which state that the country is building new and more sophisticated weapons adding tritium (few grams of tritium can result in an increase of the explosive yield by 300% to 400%) and building modern research facilities. As stated by the former Indian Foreign Secretary Shyam Saran: “Pakistan’s expanding nuclear capability is no longer driven solely by its oft-cited fears of India, but by the paranoia about US attacks on its strategic assets.” As of 2014, the focus of nuclear development shifted to smaller, tactical weapons that can potentially be used on the battlefield.
Thus we come to Pakistan’s military branch for nuclear weapons – Strategic Forces. This military wing is in charge of the nuclear assets, their maintenance, security, administrative control etc. The number of strategic forces varies between 12,000 and 15,000 units and also includes a portion of the Air Force. The Strategic Forces command all land-based strategic nuclear forces. Operational control rests with the National Command Authority (NCA).
HQ Rawalpindi, Punjab Province
Nuclear Doctrine – promotes deterrence by guaranteeing an immediate massive retaliation to aggressive attacks against the state.
Delivery systеm (missiles):
Hatf II – supersonic short-range ballistic missile (SRBM); production – Space research Commission (SUPARCO); weight – 1,750 kg; range – 180 km; warhead – single conventional high explosive (HE) 500 kg or nuclear explosive (NE) ; engine – single stage solid propellant; launch platform – transporter erector launcher (TEL).
Hatf III – SRBM; production – National Development Complex (NDC); weight – 5,256 kg; range 290-320 km; warhead – conventional HE 700 kg or NE; engine – single stage solid fuel rocket motor; launch platform – TEL.
Hatf IV – SRBM; production – NDC; weight – 10,000 kg; range 750-900 km; warhead – single conventional HE 1,000 kg or NE; engine – solid fuel rocket; launch platform – TEL.
Hatf V – medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM); production – Missile factory, Pyongyang; weight – 15,850 kg, range 2,300 km; warhead – singe HE or NE; engine – single stage liquid fuel rocket engine; launch platform – TEL.
Hatf VI – MRBM; production – NDC; weight – 25,000 kg; range 2,000 km; warhead – conventional HE or NE; engine – two stage solid fuel rocket motor; launch platform – TEL.
Hatf VII – MRBM; production – NDC; weight – 1,500/2,000 kg; range 700 km; warhead – conventional HE or NE; engine – Turbofan; launch platform – TEL.
Hatf VIII – Air launch cruise missile (ALCM); production – Air Weapons Complex (AWC); weight – 1,100 kg; range 350 km; warhead – single conventional HE 450 kg or NE 10-35 kt; engine – Turbofan; launch platform – combat aircraft.
Hatf IX – Tactical ballistic missile; production – NDC; weight – 100 kg; range 60 km; warhead – plutonium nuclear warhead 0,5-5 kt; engine – single-stage rocket motor; launch platform – TEL.
Power of nuclear warheads:
Yield of two test bombs used in 1998 by Pakistan is estimated for Changai-I 40 kt of TNT and Changai-II 20 kt of TNT.
Hatf VIII or Ra’ad missile carried by fighter jets is estimated yield between 10 and 35 kt of TNT.
Hatf IX or Vengeance is a low yield tactical missile with estimated blast yield between 0,5 and 5 kt of TNT.
Most powerful warheads in the arsenal are carried by Hatf V or Ghauri missiles with the estimated yield between 300 and 500 kt of TNT. This warhead is very similar to the US warhead W88 with the yield of 475 kilotons. Note that nuclear explosions of 500 kt usually eradicate everything in 4 mile radius.
MSL Strategic 60+:
MRBM e30 Ghauri/Gharui II (Haft V)/Shaheen-2 (Haft VI in test). SRBM 30+: e30Ghaznavi (Hatf III PRC M-11)/Shaheen-1 (Hatf IV; some Abdali (Hatf II). LACM Babur (Hatf VII; Ra’ad (Hatf VIII in test).
Artillery/MRL : Nasr (Hatf IX likely nuclear capable; in development)
Air Force: 1-2 squadron of F-16A/B or Mirage 5 may be assigned a nuclear strike role.