ISLAMABAD: Pakistan has opened “crucial” talks with the UAE aimed at boosting its fledgling space program and strengthening national security.
Officials from the Pakistani space agency announced on Thursday that they are to explore options for joint ventures with their Emirati counterparts “in satellite manufacturing and relevant applications.”
By collaborating with the UAE, Pakistan aims to increase its presence in space in a bid to drive the country’s socioeconomic development and protect its sovereignty.
Hassam Muhammad Khan, spokesman for the Pakistani Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (Suparco), told Arab News: “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.”
He said that space technology required “huge funds and special skills” which was why Pakistan was hoping it could draw on the UAE’s expertise in space technology.
Last year, Pakistan signed an agreement with China to send the country’s first mission into space by 2022, and Khan said his country 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 July last year, it 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, head of space science at the Institute of Space Technology, in Islamabad, said Pakistan lacked satellite launch facilities and capabilities and therefore had to seek assistance from “friendly countries.”
He told Arab News: “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.
“It has become crucial for Pakistan to have a good presence in outer space to protect its sovereignty and ensure security.”
Pakistan was represented by Suparco for the first time at the Global Space Congress, which was held in Abu Dhabi on March 19.
The secretary of Suparco, Dr. Arif Ali, said that the commission was in initial talks with the UAE for potential collaboration in its space program.