Cluster Munition Ban Policy

Last updated: 02 August 2017

Summary: Non-signatory Pakistan acknowledges the harm caused by cluster munitions, but views them as legitimate weapons that should be regulated and not 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 UN resolution on the convention in December 2016.

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.

Pakistan has often stated it recognizes the serious humanitarian consequences caused by the “indiscriminate use” of cluster munitions and welcomes “efforts to mitigate their negative consequences,” but views the weapons as legitimate with military utility.[1] Pakistan participated as an observer in the First Review Conference in Dubrovnik, Croatia, in September 2015, which marked the first time it has attended a meeting of the convention. In an address to the high-level segment of the meeting, Pakistan elaborated its views on accession to the convention, stating:

“Pakistan supports international efforts to address the issue of irresponsible and indiscriminate use of cluster munitions, and as such welcomes efforts to mitigate their negative consequences. Pakistan has never used cluster munitions in any military conflict or internal operations, and is opposed to their use against civilians. However, certain states have their legitimate security needs and concerns, keeping in view their peculiar security environment. Pakistan considers cluster munitions as legitimate weapons with recognized military value in our regional context. We, therefore, look at the military utility of cluster munitions differently from states that enjoy a peaceful neighborhood.”[2]

At the UN General Assembly (UNGA) First Committee on Disarmament and International Security in November 2016, Pakistan provided an explanation of its decision to abstain from the vote on a UNGA resolution that calls on states outside the Convention on Cluster Munitions to “join as soon as possible.” Pakistan’s statement is nearly identical to one it provided in November 2015 upon abstaining from the first UNGA resolution on the convention.[3] The statement welcomes “international efforts to address the issue of irresponsible and indiscriminate use of cluster munitions” and expresses Pakistan’s support for “efforts for improving reliability of cluster munitions so that the issue of explosive remnants of war is addressed.”[4]

Pakistan did not participate in the Oslo Process that created the Convention on Cluster Munitions.[5]

Pakistan has participated in meetings of the Convention on Cluster Munitions since June 2015, when it attended the convention’s intersessional meetings in Geneva. It participated in the convention’s First Review Conference in 2015 and in the Sixth Meeting of States Parties in Geneva in September 2016.

Pakistan voted in favor of a UNGA resolution in December 2015 that expressed outrage at the continued use of cluster munitions in Syria.[6]

Pakistan is not party to the Mine Ban Treaty.

Pakistan is a party to the Convention on Conventional Weapons (CCW) and often says that cluster munitions should be regulated through the CCW as it “strikes a delicate balance between the need to minimize human suffering without sacrificing the legitimate security interests of States.”[7] 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.

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 against Houthi forces, also known as Ansar Allah, in Yemen, which has used cluster munitions.

Pakistan has not commented on evidence that the Saudi-led coalition has used cluster munitions in Yemen. However, a statement by the “Coalition Forces Supporting Legitimacy in Yemen” published by the Saudi Press Agency in December 2016 states:

“International 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.”[19]

[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] 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 which are not at peace or surrounded by hostile neighbours.

[3]Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 71/45, 5 December 2016. Pakistan also abstained from voting on the previous resolution on the convention. “Implementation of the Convention on Cluster Munitions,” UNGA Resolution 70/54, 7 December 2015.

[4] 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.

[5] 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.

[6]Situation of human rights in the Syrian Arab Republic,” UNGA Resolution 70/234, 23 December 2015.

[7] 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.

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