Pakistan plans to boost space program with UAE collaboration

Pakistan is exploring options to collaborate with the United Arab Emirates for its nascent space program, a senior official said on Thursday. (Shutterstock)
Updated 21 March 2019
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Pakistan plans to boost space program with UAE collaboration

  • Pakistan in talks with the UAE for help in “satellite manufacturing and relevant applications”
  • Signed last year an agreement with China to send its first mission into space by 2022

ISLAMABAD: Pakistan is exploring options to collaborate with the United Arab Emirates for its nascent space program, a senior official at Pakistan’s bureaucratic space agency said on Thursday, in joint ventures that could potentially boost the country’s socioeconomic development and national security.

Last year, Pakistan announced that it had signed an agreement with China to send the country’s first mission into space by 2022. 

“The UAE is one of our best friends in the Muslim world and collaboration in space-related activities will help both the Emirates and Pakistan,” Hassam Muhammad Khan, spokesman for the Pakistan Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco), told Arab News.

He said that space technology required “huge funds and special skills” and thus Pakistan was in talks with the UAE “in satellite manufacturing and relevant applications.” 

Khan said Pakistan was a strong believer in the peaceful use of outer space and wanted to use technology only for socioeconomic development and national security. 

“The UAE has its own strengths in space technology and we want to benefit from them,” he added.

Pakistan currently has four remote-sensing and communications satellites in total – two ground stations and two in orbit. In July last year, Pakistan launched two satellites with the help of China, enhancing its ability to predict and ascertain levels of precipitation, and runoff water, for a given area in the country.

Dr. Qamar ul Islam, the head of the Department of Space Science at the Institute of Space Technology, Islamabad, said Pakistan lacked satellite launch facilities and capabilities and thus had “to seek assistance of friendly countries.”

“The real issues Pakistan faces at the moment are lack of funding, but our collaboration with the UAE in the space sector can really prove beneficial for both countries,” he told Arab News. “It has become crucial for Pakistan to have a good presence in outer space to protect its sovereignty and ensure security.”

Pakistan participated in this year’s Global Space Congress held in Abu Dhabi on March 19 for the first time and shared the details about their satellite related projects with the audience. SUPARCO was representing Pakistan in this event in UAE where the secretary of SUPARCO Dr. Arif Ali said that the commission was in initial level talks with the UAE for potential collaboration in its space program.


Pakistan urges Taliban, US to refrain from ‘active hostility’ amid peace talks

Updated 55 min 35 sec ago
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Pakistan urges Taliban, US to refrain from ‘active hostility’ amid peace talks

  • Foreign office says intra-Afghan dialogue holds key to Afghan peace process
  • Clarifies Pakistan did not participate in recent rounds of talks in Abu Dhabi and Doha

ISLAMABAD: The Foreign Office has said Pakistan has been playing the role of a facilitator in peace talks between the Afghan Taliban and US officials and urged them both to refrain from hostile engagements.

On Friday, Zalmay Khalilzad, the US special representative for Afghan reconciliation, expressed disappointment after the collapse of a planned meeting between the Taliban and a group of Afghan politicians in Qatar that exposed the deep divisions blocking efforts to end the 17-year-long war.

The Doha meeting was intended to prepare the ground for possible future talks by building familiarity among Taliban officials and representatives of the Afghan state created after the U.S.-led campaign that toppled the Taliban government in 2001. A similar encounter was held in Moscow in February.

Up until now the Taliban have refused to hold direct talks with the Afghan government which it considers to be a foreign-appointed puppet regime.

“Pakistan is doing everything in its capacity to facilitate the peace process, and would keep urging both sides to restrain from active hostility,” foreign office spokesman Dr Mohammad Faisal said at a weekly press briefing on Thursday.

In response to a question by Arab News about the latest round of talks, referred to as the Doha Process, Faisal said: “Let me clarify that there is no such thing as the Doha Process. The last two rounds of talks between the US and Taliban were held in Doha but the earlier round was held in Abu Dhabi. Pakistan has not attended talks in Doha.”

“We facilitated the talks between the US and Taliban in Abu Dhabi and Doha,” Faisal added. “Pakistan will continue to play its role in this regard as a shared responsibility.”

A 250-strong delegation of Afghan politicians and civil society figures had been due to meet Taliban officials in Doha on the weekend. But the event was abruptly canceled amid arguments over the size and status of the group, which included some government officials attending in a personal capacity.

Afghan President Ashraf Ghani’s office has blamed Qatari authorities for the cancellation of the talks, saying they had authorized a list of participants that differed from the one proposed by Kabul, “which meant disrespect for the national will of the Afghans”.

The Taliban derided the agreed list of 250 participants as a “wedding party”. Some senior opposition figures who had been included refused to attend. The Taliban also objected to Ghani’s comments to a meeting of delegates that they would be representing the Afghan nation and the Afghan government, a statement that went against the insurgents’ refusal to deal with the Kabul administration.

The Taliban said holding a dialogue with the “powerless and crumbling Kabul administration is a waste of time” as their aim was to focus on the complete withdrawal of foreign forces from Afghanistan.