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National Command Authority (NCA)
Coat of arms of Pakistan.svg
Objectives:Command and control of Pakistan's strategic nuclear forces and strategic organizations
Agency overview
Formed February 2, 2000; ago (2000-02-02)
Preceding agency
  • None
Jurisdiction Pakistan Government
Headquarters Islamabad
Employees 21,000[1][2]
Minister responsible
  • (etc.)
Agency executive
  • Prime minister of Pakistan, Chairman

The National Command Authority, (Urdu: نيشنل كمانڈ اتھارٹى; abbreviated as NCA), is the apex civilian led command to oversees the employment, policy formulation, exercises, deployment, research and development, and operational command and control of Pakistan's nuclear arsenals. The National Command was established in 2000 as a successor of Air Force Strategic Command which was established by then-Chief of Air Staff General Anwar Shamim in 1983. The National Command Authority is charged with joint-space operations (such as military satellites), information operations (such as information warfare), missile defense, internal and external command and control, intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance (C4ISR), and strategic deterrence (Pakistan's nuclear detterent program), and combating weapons of mass destruction. The National Command Authority oversees and look after the operations of Army, Air Force, and Navy's strategic commands, along with their functional basis. The unified military strategic command structure is intended to give the Prime minister and the Cabinet secretariat a unified resource for greater understanding of specific threats (military, nuclear, chemical, biological, radiological, conventional, and non-conventional, and intelligence) and the means to respond to those threats as quickly as possible to prevent the collateral damage. The civilian Prime minister is a Chairman of this Command, with all military assets, components of NCA, and strategic commands directly reporting to Chairman of their course of development and deployment.

Organizational structure

The NCA consists of the following nine ex officio members:[3]

The Director-General of the NCA's Strategic Plans Division (SPD) is the ex officio Secretary of the NCA and the SPD functions as the NCA's secretariat.[3]

Decision making in the NCA takes place through consensus and, in the event that consensus is not achieved, then through voting, with each member having a single vote.


The Government of Pakistan felt the need to establish an administrative authority after Pakistan's first publicly announced atomic tests, codename Chagai-I and Chagai-II, on May 28 and May 30 of 1998 in Ras Koh weapon-testing labs in the Chagai Hills range of the District Chagai and Kharan Desert of the Balochistan Province. The roots of such mechanism traced back to 1970s when Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto authorized the atomic bomb project to keep the atomic projects way from being exploited, politicized, or even infiltration from the enemy powers attempting to sabotage the atomic project.[4] It is alleged by the former chief of army staff General Mirza Aslam Beg in 1994, that the Command was established in 1972 by former Prime minister Zulfikar Ali Bhutto when he authorized the atomic bomb project.[4] The Joint Staff Headquarters (JS HQ) served its combatant operational command and is chaired by the Prime minister. In 1994, General Beg retains: " (...).... The NCA determines the state of readiness which has to be maintained at all times... (sic)... and lays down in great detail the policy of how the various components will be placed, protected and safeguarded.".[4]

In April 1999, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee and the Chief of Army Staff General Pervez Musharraff developed a unified central command system to use nuclear and missile technology as part of the defence and security of nuclear assets under the complete government control.[5] Finally, the command was formally established and given commissioned on February 3, 2000 after approval by Pakistan's National Security Council. The command compromises the Economic Coordination Committee (ECC), the Development Control Committee (DCC), and a Strategic Plans Division (SPD).[6] The Prime minister— Chief Executive (Head of Government) of the country served its chairman while other members of the included the high-profile ministers of foreign affairs, defense (military production), economic, science, and interior, the chairman joint chiefs staff, the chiefs of the armed forces, and the director-general of the SPD.[6] The DCC includes the chairman of the joint chiefs of staff committee (as deputy chairman of DCC), the chiefs of the armed forces, the director general of the SPD, and a "representative of the strategic organization and scientific community (science adviser)".[6][7] Since 1970s onward, the National Command Authority is responsible for policy formulation and will exercise employment and development control over all strategic nuclear forces and strategic organizations.[4] It consists of an Employment Control Committee and a Development Control Committee, as well as the Strategic Plans Division (SPD) which acts as its Secretariat. The Strategic Plans Division is responsible for the management and administration of the country's tactical and strategic nuclear weapons stockpile. It was created the same year as the NCA was formed.[4] Their directives are to be operationalized by a new Strategic Plans Division (SPD) under the control of a director-general of the rank of Lieutenant-General (Air Marshal or Vice-Admiral) in charge of the management and administration of the tactical and strategic nuclear forces. The current director-general of the SPD is Lieutenant-General (retired) Khalid Kidwai of Pakistan Army.[4]

Since its establishment, General Pervez Musharraf, as President, had served its first chairman. However, after the 2008 General Elections, the Pakistani lawmakers introduced a new law which was passed unanimously by the Parliament.[8] The bill placed the NCA's Authority under PM’s command.[9][10]

Subordinate Commands

Joint Forces

  • Strategic Plans Division (SPD)


Air Force



  1. Monthly Hilal English - Pakistan Armed Forces' Magazine, January 2013, pp 40,
  2. 900 SPD soldiers pass graduation from Abbotabad centers, April 20, 2012, CNBC Pakistan,
  3. 3.0 3.1
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 4.4 4.5 NTI, Nuclear Threat Initiatives (5 May 1994,). "Bare All and Be Damned". Far Eastern Economic Review, 5 May 1994, Pg. 23; in NTI Nuclear and Missile Database. p. 47. Retrieved 17 May 2012. "The NCA determines the state of readiness which has to be maintained at all times...and lays down in great detail the policy of how the various components will be placed, protected and safeguarded" 
  5. The National Command Authority
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 Press Release (4 February 2000). "Pakistan Sets Up Weapons Control Authority". Retrieved 17 May 2012. 
  7. Press Release (2 February 2001). "National Command Authority formed". Retrieved 23 December 2012. 
  8. Parliament passes National Command Authority Bill 2009
  9. Gilani holds National Command Authority meeting
  10. 16th NCA Meeting

External links

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