National Command Authority (NCA)

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A backgrounder

Nuclear Threat Initiative


LOCATION: Islamabad

SUBORDINATE TO: Prime Minister of Pakistan (Chairman)

SIZE: Approximately 12 members


In February 2000 Pakistan's National Security Council (NSC) established the National Command Authority (NCA). The NCA is the nation’s highest decision-making authority on nuclear and missile policy issues, and oversees all nuclear and missile programs. 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.” The Strategic Plans Division (SPD) executes and administers NCA policy.

Originally chaired by the President of Pakistan, President Asif Ali Zardari ceded chairmanship to the Prime Minister of Pakistan in 2009. 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. 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.

See also

Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission

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