This chapter describes and tests the sources of Pakistan's nuclear postures. It shows that the country's choices, and the timing of its shift from a catalytic to an asymmetric escalation posture, are best captured by optimization theory, illustrating how exogenous changes to a state's security environment and alliance options can trigger a shift in nuclear postures. Born into and out of war, Pakistan has always perceived an existential threat from its larger neighbor India. Since 1971, Pakistan has been on a desperate quest to acquire and operationalize a nuclear weapons capability to deter Indian conventional power. As its uranium enrichment program was reaching critical thresholds to enable the weaponization of the program, Pakistan relied on a catalytic nuclear posture which used the credible threat of nuclear escalation to compel its then-patron, the United States, to intercede on its behalf in crises with India.
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