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National Command Authority (NCA)

Other Name: N/A
Location: Islamabad
Subordinate To: Prime Minister of Pakistan (Chairman) [1]
Size: Approximately 12 members [2]
Facility Status: Active [3]

In February 2000 Pakistan's National Security Council (NSC) established the National Command Authority (NCA). [4] The NCA is the nation’s highest decision-making authority on nuclear and missile policy issues, and oversees all nuclear and missile programs. [5] The International Institute for Strategic Studies notes that although the makeup of the committee would appear to grant substantial civilian authority over nuclear and missile policy, “in practice, the military would probably prevail on nuclear decision-making during wartime or a military crisis.” [6] The Strategic Plans Division (SPD) executes and administers NCA policy. [7]

Originally chaired by the President of Pakistan, President Asif Ali Zardari ceded chairmanship to the Prime Minister of Pakistan in 2009. [8] According to Zahid Hussein,  Zardari’s move may have simply reflected ongoing power struggles within the Pakistani government and within the Pakistan People’s Party, and/or resulted from tension between the military and President Zardari rather than being a true reorientation of nuclear and missile policy leadership. [9] The NSC’s core membership consists of top civilian and military officials, including the Foreign, Defence, Interior, and Finance ministers, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, the Director General of the Strategic Plans Division, and the Chiefs of Staff of the Army, Navy, and Air Force. [10]

Sources:
[1] Zahid Hussain, “Zadari Cedes Power to Pakistani Premier,” The Wall Street Journal, 30 November 2009, p. A15.
[2] Nuclear Black Markets: Pakistan, A.Q. Khan and the Rise of Proliferation Networks – A Net Assessment, (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2007), p. 110.
[3] “Gilani holds National Command Authority Meeting,” Dawn (Karachi), 5 April 2010.
[4] Umer Farooq, “Pakistan Tests New Missile and Revises Command Structure,” Jane’s Defence Weekly, 16 February 2000.
[5] Nuclear Black Markets: Pakistan, A.Q. Khan and the Rise of Proliferation Networks – A Net Assessment, (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2007), pp. 109-111.
[6] Nuclear Black Markets: Pakistan, A.Q. Khan and the Rise of Proliferation Networks – A Net Assessment, (London: The International Institute for Strategic Studies, 2007), p. 111.
[7] President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, “Ordinance No. LXX of 2007: The National Command Authority Ordinance of 2007,” published in the Gazette of Pakistan, Extraordinary, 13 December 2007, www.na.gov.pk.
[8] Zahid Hussain, “Zadari Cedes Power to Pakistani Premier,” The Wall Street Journal, 30 November 2009, p. A15.
[9] Zahid Hussain, “Zadari Cedes Power to Pakistani Premier,” The Wall Street Journal, 30 November 2009, p. A15.
[10] Iftikhar A. Khan, “NCA rules out signing of treaty on N-material,” Dawn, 15 December 2010, www.dawn.com.

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This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Monterey Institute of International Studies and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents.

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