Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 03 July 2018

Summary: Non-signatory Pakistan acknowledges the harm caused by cluster munitions, but views them as legitimate weapons that should not be banned. Pakistan participated as an observer in meetings of the convention for the first time in 2015 and again in 2016. However, it abstained from the vote on a key United Nations (UN) resolution on the convention in December 2017.

Pakistan produces cluster munitions and has likely exported them. It has not disclosed information on its stockpile of cluster munitions. Pakistan states that it has never used cluster munitions, but it has participated in a Saudi Arabia-led military operation in Yemen that has used cluster munitions since March 2015.


The Islamic Republic of Pakistan has not acceded to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.

In October 2017, Pakistan reiterated its opposition to treaties concluded outside the UN framework and said that cluster munitions should be negotiated via the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW).[1] Yet Pakistan has not proposed any new CCW work on cluster munitions since 2011, when states failed to conclude a CCW protocol on cluster munitions. The failure effectively ended CCW deliberations on the topic and has left the Convention on Cluster Munitions as the sole international instrument to specifically address the human suffering caused by these weapons.

Pakistan has often recognized the serious humanitarian consequences caused by the “indiscriminate use” of cluster munitions and welcomed “efforts to mitigate their negative consequences,” but views cluster munitions as legitimate weapons with military utility.[2]

Pakistan participated as an observer in the First Review Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia in September 2015, where it expressed support for “international efforts to address the issue of irresponsible and indiscriminate use of cluster munitions,” but affirmed that “Pakistan considers cluster munitions as legitimate weapons with recognized military value in our regional context.”[3]

Pakistan did not participate in the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[4]

Pakistan has participated in the convention’s First Review Conference and convention’s intersessional meetings in 2015 and the Sixth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2016. It has not attended any meetings of the convention since 2016.

In October 2017, Pakistan told the UN General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee on Disarmament and International Security that it would again abstain from the vote on a UNGA resolution that calls on states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible” because, Pakistan said, “we consider cluster munitions to be legitimate weapons with recognized military utility.”[5]

That comment is repeated in previous statements by Pakistan in 2015 and 2016 upon abstaining from the previous UNGA resolutions promoting implementation of the convention.[6]

Pakistan is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty. It is party to the CCW.[7]

Production, transfer, and stockpiling

Pakistan has produced ground-delivered cluster munitions and air-dropped cluster bombs.

State-owned Pakistan Ordnance Factories (POF) has produced and offered for export M483A1 155mm artillery projectiles containing 88 M42/M46 dual-purpose improved conventional munition (DPICM) submunitions.[8] South Korean company Poongsan entered into a licensed production agreement with POF in 2004 to co-produce K-310 155mm extended-range DPICM projectiles in Pakistan at Wah Cantonment.[9] The Pakistani army took delivery of the first production lots in 2008.[10]

In September 2011, the London-based arms expo Defence & Security Equipment international (DSEi) closed the POF stand and Pakistan’s Defence Export Promotion Organisation pavilion after promotional material was found at both locations listing the 155mm extended range (base bleed) DPICM cluster munition available for sale.[11] Pakistani authorities reportedly said the cluster munitions were not offered for sale by Pakistan at DSEi.[12] Similar concerns were raised when POF advertised the same 155mm DPICM cluster munition during the 2009 DSEi arms fair.[13]

Jane’s Information Group reports that the Pakistan Air Weapons Center produces the Programmable Submunitions Dispenser (PSD-1), which is similar to the United States (US) Rockeye cluster bomb and dispenses 225 anti-armor submunitions.Jane’s Information Group states that the Pakistan National Development Complex produces and markets the Hijara Top-Attack Submunitions Dispenser (TSD-1) cluster bomb.It lists the Pakistan air force as possessing BL-755 cluster bombs.[14] The US transferred 200 Rockeye cluster bombs to Pakistan at some point between 1970 and 1995.[15]

As an interim step towards acceding to the convention, Human Rights Watch has urged Pakistan to institute a prohibition on the transfer of cluster munitions, as it has done with a long-standing export moratorium on antipersonnel landmines.[16] In June 2015, a government representative informed the Monitor that there are no plans to put in place an export moratorium on cluster munitions.[17]

There is no public information available on the numbers of cluster munitions stockpiled by Pakistan, and limited information on types.


Pakistan has stated several times that it has never used cluster munitions.[18]

Since March 2015, Pakistan has participated in a Saudi Arabia-led joint military operation in Yemen against Houthi forces, also known as Ansar Allah, which has used cluster munitions. Pakistan has not commented on evidence that the Saudi-led coalition has used cluster munitions in Yemen, while a December 2016 statement by the coalition forces did not deny the use of cluster munitions and argued that “international law does not ban the use of cluster munitions.”[19]

[1] Explanation of Vote by Pakistan on Resolution L.41, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 31 October 2017, pp. 17–18/29.

[2] Statement of Pakistan, Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) Fourth Review Conference, Geneva, 15 November 2011. In 2009, a government official informed the Monitor that “in view of Pakistan’s security environment and legitimate defence needs, we do not support a ban on use, production, and transfer of cluster munitions due to their military utility.” Letter from Dr. Irfan Yusuf Shami, Director-General for Disarmament, Ministry of Foreign Affairs, 16 February 2009.

[3] Statement of Pakistan, Convention on Cluster Munitions First Review Conference, Dubrovnik, 8 September 2015. Pakistan’s representative, Amb. Muhammad Yousaf, informed the Monitor that Pakistan attended the meeting to ensure that a diversity of opinions on cluster munitions were heard, since their process does not work for states that are not at peace or surrounded by hostile neighbors.

[4] For more details on Pakistan’s policy and practice regarding cluster munitions through early 2009, see Human Rights Watch (HRW) and Landmine Action, Banning Cluster Munitions: Government Policy and Practice (Ottawa: Mines Action Canada, May 2009), pp. 225–226.

[5] Explanation of Vote by Pakistan on Resolution L.41, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 31 October 2017, pp. 17–18/29.

[6] “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 72/54, 4 December 2017.Pakistan abstained from voting on similar resolutions on the convention in 2015 and 2016.

[7] Explanation of Vote by Pakistan on Resolution L.41, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 31 October 2017, pp. 17–18/29; and “Explanation of vote on the resolution entitled "Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” A/C.11711L.22, 31 October 2016. The statement is identical to Pakistan’s Explanation of vote in 2015.

[8] POF, “Products, Ordnance, Artillery Ammunition, 155mm HOW HE M483A1-ICM,” undated. As of July 2015, this product is no longer listed on the website.

[9] At the time the projectiles were produced for Pakistan’s armed forces, but both firms also said they would co-market the projectiles for export. “Pakistan Ordnance Factory and Korean Firm Sign Ammunition Pact,” Asia Pulse (Karachi), 24 November 2006. Video taken in POF has images of Poongsan machinery for the manufacturing of DPICM shells., “Production of new Base Bleed 155mm ammunition starts at Pakistan Ordnance Factories - 12 April 2008,” 28 April 2011.

[10] “Pak Army Gets First Lot of DPICM Ammunition,” PakTribune, 13 April 2008.

[11] This included the 155mm extended-range (base bleed) DPICM projectiles containing 45 submunitions and the 155mm M483A1 cluster munition containing 88 submunitions, both manufactured by POF. The United Kingdom (UK) is a State Party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions so the references to equipment were found to breach UK Government Export Controls and DSEi’s contractual requirements.

[12] Saba Imtiaz, “London exhibition controversy: Pakistan says no brochures listed cluster munitions,” The Express Tribune, 21 September 2011.

[13] Strategic Export Controls (UK Parliament), “Evidence submitted by the UK Working Group on Arms (UKWG),” November 2010.

[14] Robert Hewson, ed., Jane’s Air-Launched Weapons, Issue 44 (Surrey, UK: Jane’s Information Group Limited, 2004), pp. 389 & 843. BL-755s were manufactured by the UK.

[15] US Defense Security Cooperation Agency, Department of Defense, “Cluster Bomb Exports under FMS, FY1970–FY1995,” 15 November 1995, obtained by HRW in a Freedom of Information Act request, 28 November 1995.

[16] Letter to Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani from Steve Goose, Arms Division, and Brad Adams, Asia Division, HRW, 13 October 2011. Pakistan announced a comprehensive moratorium of unlimited duration on the export of antipersonnel landmines in March 1997 that was strengthened after the adoption of the Mine Ban Treaty with a February 1999 regulation making the export of antipersonnel mines illegal.

[17] Monitor interview with Ifran Mahmood Bokari, Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the UN, Geneva, 23 June 2015.

[18] Explanation of Vote by Pakistan on Resolution L.41, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 31 October 2017, pp. 17–18/29. See also, statement of Pakistan, CCW Fourth Review Conference, 15 November 2011; statement by Amb. Masood Khan, CCW Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 7 November 2007; and statement of Pakistan, CCW Meeting of States Parties, Geneva, 12 November 2009. Notes by Landmine Action.

[19] “[I]nternational law does not ban the use of cluster munitions. Some States have undertaken a commitment to refrain from using cluster munitions by becoming party to the 2008 Convention on Cluster Munitions. Neither the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia nor its Coalition partners are State Parties to the 2008 Convention, and accordingly, the Coalition’s use of cluster munitions does not violate the obligations of these States under international law.” See, “Coalition Forces supporting legitimacy in Yemen confirm that all Coalition countries aren't members to the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” Saudi Press Agency, 19 December 2016.