With eye on India, Pakistan set to launch space satellites

Pakistan has embarked on an aggressive space programme with plans to launch its own satellites - for both civil and military purposes. Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Organisation of Pakistan (Suparco), the equivalent of India’s Isro, plans to launch its first satellite sometime next year.

Suparco will launch the space programme with a Rs470-cr budget in the upcoming fiscal year 2018-19. This includes Rs255 crore spending on three projects in the civil and military domain, say media reports.
The projects include a Rs135-crore Pakistan Multi-Mission Satellite (PakSat- MM1) besides the setting up of a Pakistan Space Centre in Karachi, Lahore and Islamabad with funding of Rs100 crore.
Besides, Suparco will establish a Space Application Research Centre in Karachi with investment of Rs20 crore in 2018-19.
These projects are aimed at reducing dependence on foreign satellites for civil and military purposes, according to the reports.
Report say the main aim of the satellite programme, obviously with help from China, is to keep a watch on India, especially considering its objections to the China Pakistan Economic Corridor that runs through Kashmir.
Also, Pakistan is currently dependent mainly on US and French satellites for civil and military communications. These projects will help Pakistan in developing a self-reliance capacity and thereby reduce dependence on foreign satellites, not only to meet the growing need for civil communications, including the GPS, mobile telephony and the internet, but also due to changing defence needs.
The main aim of the Pakistani space agency, however, is to keep an eye on troop movements on Indian side and reduce its dependence on international satellites for both civil and military purposes.
With Nobel Prize winning Abdus Salam, who is also the founder of Pakistanis space programme, and the first Muslim to receive a Nobel Prize in Science and Technology, and only the second ever to receive the Nobel Prize, may be expected to head the task.
However, several top politicians, religious leaders, and bureaucrats in Pakistan have raised objections to Abdus Salam, a person belonging to the highly persecuted Ahmadiyya sect, leading a prestigious programme.