Pakistan

Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 13 September 2021

Summary

Non-signatory Pakistan has acknowledged the humanitarian concerns raised by cluster munitions, but has not taken steps to accede to the convention as it regards cluster munitions as legitimate weapons. Pakistan last participated in a meeting of the convention in 2016. It abstained from the vote on a key United Nations (UN) resolution promoting the convention in December 2020.

Pakistan produces and stockpiles cluster munitions and has likely exported them. Pakistan has stated that it has never used cluster munitions. In 2019, Pakistan alleged that India used cluster munitions in the contested region of Kashmir.

Policy

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

Pakistan has expressed concern at the “irresponsible and indiscriminate use of cluster munitions” but it has not taken any steps to accede to the convention due to its long-standing objections to key provisions and over the way it was adopted.[1] In November 2020, Pakistan said it “does not support disarmament treaties, such as the Convention on Cluster Munitions, concluded outside the UN framework.”[2] In 2015, Pakistan told States Parties that it considers cluster munitions to be “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 as an observer in meetings of the convention, but not since 2016.[5] It was invited, but did not attend, the first part of the convention’s Second Review Conference held virtually in November 2020.

In December 2020, Pakistan abstained from the vote on a key UN General Assembly (UNGA) resolution which urged states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.”[6] Pakistan has abstained from voting on the annual UNGA resolution promoting the convention since the resolution was first introduced in 2015. Each year since then, Pakistan has said that it abstained from voting on the UNGA resolution because it considers cluster munitions to be “legitimate weapons with recognized military utility.”[7]

Pakistan is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty.

Pakistan is a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and expressed regret that States Parties to the CCW failed to conclude a protocol on cluster munitions in 2011. This effectively ended CCW deliberations on the topic and left the Convention on Cluster Munitions as the sole international instrument to specifically address the human suffering caused by these weapons. Pakistan has not proposed any new CCW work on cluster munitions since then, despite reiterating in December 2020 that the CCW is “the most appropriate forum” for discussing cluster munitions.[8]

Production, transfer, and stockpiling

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

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.[9] POF entered into a licensed production agreement with South Korean company Poongsan in 2004 to co-produce K-310 155mm extended-range DPICM projectiles in Pakistan at Wah Cantonment.[10] The Pakistani army took delivery of the first production lots in 2008.[11]

The POF stand at the 2011 Defence and Security Equipment International (DSEI) arms fair in London, United Kingdom (UK), was closed after it displayed promotional materials listing 155mm extended range (base bleed) DPICM cluster munitions for sale.[12] POF advertised the same 155mm DPICM cluster munition at the 2009 DSEI arms fair, eliciting similar concerns as the UK is a State Party to the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[13]

According to Jane’s Information Group, the Pakistan Air Weapons Center has produced 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 also lists the Pakistan National Development Complex as producing the Hijara Top-Attack Submunitions Dispenser (TSD-1) cluster bomb and reports that the Pakistan Air Force possesses UK-made BL-755 cluster bombs.[14] The US transferred 200 Rockeye cluster bombs to Pakistan between 1970 and 1995.[15]

Pakistan has not responded to calls to institute a prohibition on the transfer of cluster munitions, but has a long-standing export moratorium in place for antipersonnel landmines.[16]

Pakistan possesses cluster munitions, but has not shared information on the quantities or types stockpiled.

Use

Pakistan has stated several times that it has never used cluster munitions.[17]

In August 2019, Pakistan alleged that India used cluster munitions in the contested region of Kashmir on 30–31 July 2019, in an attack that reportedly killed two civilians including a four-year-old boy, and wounded 11 others.[18] The Pakistan army released photographs showing DPICM-type submunitions from artillery-delivered cluster munitions. Pakistan’s president, foreign minister and other high-ranking officials condemned the alleged cluster munition use for violating international law.[19]

India denied using cluster munitions in the attack and the Indian army issued a statement asserting the “allegations of firing of cluster bombs by India is yet another Pakistan's lie and deception.”[20]

Pakistan repeated the allegation at the UNGA in October 2019, stating that “India, which is a State Party to the CCW, recently used cluster munitions in populated areas resulting in deaths and injuries to civilians.”[21] India responded that “Pakistan has once again made a number of baseless and unsubstantiated allegations against India which are not borne out of facts.”[22]

On the basis of the available information, the Monitor was not able to conclusively determine if cluster munitions were used and whether India was responsible for any use.



[1] 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.

[2] Explanation of Vote by Pakistan, UN General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee, video record, 6 November 2020, 2:07:25.

[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, stating that the 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] Pakistan participated in the convention’s Sixth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2016, but has not participated in any other meetings of States Parties. It attended the First Review Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia in September 2015, as well as one of the convention’s intersessional meetings in Geneva in 2015.

[6] “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions”, UNGA Resolution 75/62, 7 December 2020.

[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.

[8] Explanation of Vote by Pakistan, UN General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee, video record, 6 November 2020, 2:07:25. See also 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.

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

[10] 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. A video taken in POF has images of Poongsan machinery for the manufacturing of DPICM shells. YouTube, “Production of new Base Bleed 155mm ammunition starts at Pakistan Ordnance Factories - 12 April 2008,” 28 April 2011.

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

[12] 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. Pakistani authorities reportedly said the cluster munitions were not offered for sale by Pakistan at DSEI. 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: Jane’s Information Group, 2004), pp. 389 and 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] 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.

[18] Pakistan Armed Forces press release, “Indian Army uses cluster ammunition along LOC deliberately targeting Civilian population,” 3 August 2019.

[19] Pakistan’s President Imran Khan condemned India’s “use of cluster munitions in violation of int humanitarian law” via Twitter: see Khan, Imran (ImranKhanPTI), ‘‘I condemn India's attack across LOC on innocent civilians & it's use of cluster munitions in violation of int humanitarian law and it's own commitments under the 1983 Convention on Certain Conventional Weapons. UNSC must take note of this international threat to peace & security,’’ 4 August 2019, 11:34 UTC, Tweet. Pakistan's Minister of Foreign Affairs Shah Mehmood Qureshi tweeted photographs of alleged cluster munition victims: see Qureshi, Shah Mehmood (SMQureshiPTI), ‘‘Strongly condemn the blatant use of cluster ammunition by Indian Security Forces targeting innocent civilians along the Line Of Control. This is clear violation of the Geneva Convention & International Laws,’’ 3 August 2019, 12:30 UTC, Tweet. The chief spokesman for Pakistan's armed forces, General Asif Ghafoor, also tweeted: see Ghafoor, Asif (OfficialDGISPR), ‘‘Use of cluster bombs by Indian Army violating international conventions is condemnable. No weapon can suppress determination of Kashmiris to get their right of self determination. Kashmir runs in blood of every Pakistani. Indigenous freedom struggle of Kashmiris shall succeed,IA,’’ 3 August 2019, 12:36 UTC, Tweet.

[21] Statement of Pakistan, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 23 October 2019.

[22] Statement of India, UNGA First Committee on Disarmament and International Security, New York, 24 October 2019.