Pakistan's Nuclear Weapons Program

Authored by: Hannah Haegeland , Arzan Tarapore

Routledge Handbook of the International Relations of South Asia

Print publication date:  October  2022
Online publication date:  October  2022

Print ISBN: 9781032159881
eBook ISBN: 9781003246626
Adobe ISBN:


 Download Chapter



This chapter traces the origins and evolution of Pakistan's nuclear weapons program. The program originated after the decisive 1971 war, which split Pakistan in half. Pakistan's leaders thereafter sought to guarantee the state's survival, but other motivations—including domestic politics and the pursuit of international prestige—also propelled the program. Nuclear weapons have served to deter India from using force, but they have also added evolving forms of instability to the India-Pakistan rivalry. Since the 1998 tests, Pakistan's nuclear posture has sought to compete with Indian military developments, in effect lowering the threshold for nuclear use. Looking forward, Pakistan's nuclear weapons program will face a series of new strategic conditions, including the changing roles of third-party actors like the United States, the cascading effects of US and Chinese nuclear developments, the prospects of US-China conflict in the region, and the evolution of transnational terrorism after the US withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Search for more...
Back to top

Use of cookies on this website

We are using cookies to provide statistics that help us give you the best experience of our site. You can find out more in our Privacy Policy. By continuing to use the site you are agreeing to our use of cookies.