What is it about?

The article empirically proves if nuclear 'taboo' does not exist in Pakistan however, through the use of religion (Islam that is strongly entrenched in the fabric of constitution and societal sentiments, the principles of ethics, peace, non-violence can pave the way for nuclear non-use. Religion is the factor that can no faction within Pakistan (state, polity, organization or individual) can overrun. There are clear passages in the Quran and Sunnah (Prophet's Practices) to benefit from. Currently, Pakistan military exercises stringent control on nuclear policy and decisionmaking. Driven by security paranoia against India, the use of nuclear weapons in the near future seems unavoidable.

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Why is it important?

The current debate on nuclear taboo largely centers around the United States nuclear policies. It is important to expand this debate and analyze if 'taboo' exists in other nuclear weapon states. This article brings out that nuclear powers follow doctrines and strategies of great powers however, these societies have not matured to empathize with the impressions of war and violence as perceived by the nations after Hiroshima. This eventually led anti-nuclear social movements, freedom of expression that cultivated the desire of abhorrence of nuclear-use again. The decision-makers could not discount this factor in making crucial decisions. This entire era of experience is missing among new nuclear weapon states where nations view these weapons as the symbol of strength, power, and prestige.


This article adds an important perspective on nuclear taboo and ethics debate from Pakistan's nuclear policy standpoint. It is an in-depth analysis of the non-use of nuclear weapons in the past in the frame of military-utility principle. It also explains the current trends of nuclear decision-making inside Pakistan that solely lies with the military. The grounds for nuclear taboo are weak at the moment due to the minimum understanding of nuclear fallout of radiations by the political leadership, taboo on civilian input, and unsatisfactory research output that makes military's organizational interests as a sole and dominant voice in the country.

Dr Sannia Abdullah
Stanford University

Read the Original

This page is a summary of: Nuclear Ethics? Why Pakistan Has Not Used Nuclear Weapons … Yet, The Washington Quarterly, October 2018, Taylor & Francis,
DOI: 10.1080/0163660x.2018.1558681.
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