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.