Tension in the region between mainly India and Pakistan and increasingly between these countries and Iran, Iraq and Afghanistan are driving forces in the design of both strategic nuclear weapons and conventional combat forces. The tense conflict in Kashmir continues, but the conflict has been suppressed since spring 2003 by withdrawal of troops, full diplomatic relations with India and other tension-reducing measures.
Formally, Pakistan has no nuclear weapons and has not signed the 1996 Cease-fire Agreement (CTBT). To see related acronyms about this country, please check ABBREVIATIONFINDER where you can see that PAK stands for Pakistan. However, in 1998, Pakistan surprisingly conducted a series of nuclear weapons tests after India had done the same. New test operation of arms carriers resulted in an agreement on pre-notification of future tests after a round of talks in 2005 etc. A (fifth) round of talks was started in 2008 at the same time as unrest in Kashmir again arose. Both India and Pakistan appear anxious to diminish the unrest.
The situation that emerged after al-Qaeda’s terror attack on September 11, 2001 against the United States affects Pakistan’s strategic position as a border country with Afghanistan in the form of terrorism, religious extremism and sectarianism.
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In the autumn of 2009, Pakistan can to some extent be said to be in a situation similar to a civil war with major military operations in the northern and western parts. The problem besides the political is the strategic. Politically, Pakistan has been ruled by an elected government since September 9, 2008, a government that then replaced the military government that had been sitting for nine years.
Strategically, the focus is defense against India. The defense is not optimized for fighting guerrilla-type Taliban forces in the mountainous border areas against Afghanistan. Despite this, at least in the short term, they managed to recapture Swat Valley in the summer of 2009. This was followed by a similar operation in South Waziristan, started in October 2009 in collaboration with US aviation and intelligence operations. The opposition in this case is made up of about 10,000 men who formed the 2007 TTB, Tehrik-e-Taliban.
The strategic defense (2009) comprises about 15,000 men with 166 ground robots as well as airborne tactical missiles and seaborne medium-range robots. The conventional defense comprises about 620,000 men enlisted and is organized in an army of 555,000 men with 20 divisions, 15 stand-alone brigades and 2,400 tanks.
The Navy comprises 22,000 men with 8 submarines, 6 fighters/frigates, 8 patrol boats, a naval aircraft with 16 fighter aircraft and 9 armed helicopters, etc. The air force comprises 45,000 men with 380 modern fighter aircraft. Mirage as well as F-16. Semi-military security forces amount to 300,000 men.
The material is of mixed Russian/Soviet and increasingly Chinese and Western origin, e.g. purchase/ production together with China of 150 fighter aircraft (FC-1) and 4 frigates and delivery of 16 F-16 fighter aircraft and an unspecified number of attack helicopters (Cobra) from the USA.
Defense costs decreased in 1985-2008 from 6.9% to 3.2% of GDP. Pakistan participates in UN peacekeeping operations in Ivory Coast (UNOCI), Congo (Kinshasa) (MONUC) and Liberia (UNMIL). The UN has observers in India/Pakistan from nine countries (UNMOGIP).
Pakistan has volunteer military service. The country participates in UN peacekeeping operations. The UN also has a presence in Pakistan (UNMOPIG), mainly with observers. The total strength of Pakistan’s armed forces is 643,800 active personnel (2018, IISS). In addition, 282,000 are semi-military, of which 185,000 are in the National Guard and about 70,000 are border guards. Pakistan has nuclear weapons.
The army has a workforce of 560,000 active personnel. Heavy equipment includes about 2496 tanks (1100 type 59, 400 type 69, 350 Al-Khalid, 320 T-80, about 275 type 85, and 51 T-54 and T-55), and 1605 armored personnel vehicles. The strategic nuclear forces fall under the army and include over 60 short and medium range ballistic missiles. The Army has about 243 helicopters, of which 42 combat helicopters (38 Cobra and four Mi-35) 101 light aircraft, and light drones.
The Air Force has a workforce of 70,000 active personnel. Material includes 153 fighters (66 F-7, 58 F-16, 27 FT-7, and two Mirage III), 224 fighter aircraft (18 F-16, 85 JF-17, 70 Mirage III, and 51 Mirage 5), 10 reconnaissance aircraft, two ELINT aircraft, seven AEW & C aircraft, four tanker aircraft, 35 transport aircraft, 142 training aircraft, 23 helicopters, and medium and heavy drones.
The Navy has a personnel force of 23,800 active personnel, including about 3,200 Marines and about 2,000 semi-military security forces. The fleet includes eight tactical submarines, nine frigates, 17 patrol vessels, three minesweepers, eight landings, and eight logistics and auxiliary vessels. In addition, 14 maritime patrol aircraft, three light transport aircraft, and 17 helicopters.
In 2018, Pakistan participated in UN operations in the Democratic Republic of Congo (MONUSCO) with 2758 personnel and 18 observers, in the Central African Republic (MINUSCA) with 1259 personnel and 10 observers, and in Sudan (UNAMID) with 1170 personnel and six observers.