Complied by: Asma Khalid
Edited by: S. Sadia Kazmi
STRATEGIC VISION INSTITUTE (SVI), ISLAMABAD
Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) organized an In-house Seminar on “. The objective of conducting this In-house Seminar was to critically analyse the outcomes of 28th NSG Plenary meeting, which took place on 14-15 June 2018 in Jūrmala (Latvia), and also to discuss future prospects of South Asian aspirants to the NSG membership. The discussion was chaired by Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema, President/Executive Director, SVI. The guest speakers included Amb. (R) Zamir Akram (Former Permanent Representative of Pakistan to the United Nations in Geneva), Mr. Muhammad Kamran Akhtar (DG Disarmament, MOFA), and Dr. Tughral Yamin (Associate Dean, Centre for International Peace & Stability, NUST).
Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema (President/Executive Director SVI) formally inaugurated the session
with a warm welcome to the participants and expressed gratitude for their attendance. In his introductory remarks, Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema stated that during the 28th NSG plenary meeting, the India-Pakistan membership case did not get much attention unlike previous years perhaps due to following two reasons: first, the NSG Plenary was dominated by North Korea’s nuclear test and its impact on nonproliferation regime; second, Iran’s nuclear issue and unilateral withdrawal of the US from JCPOA. Dr. Cheema mentioned that at the time of nuclear test by India in 1998, George Perkovich stated that the blasts have shaken the foundations of the international nonproliferation system. But the international community is now intentionally turning a blind eye
to India’s nuclear objective and the American lobby is instead focusing on Pakistan. Therefore in the emerging scenario, it is difficult to find out American’s stance on North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile tests. In this regard a question arises that whether the nuclear tests of North Korea would take attention away from Pakistan and North Korea will become the focus of American nuclear lobby or not. It is important to find out whether Pakistan will get some relaxation or it will remain the focus of American propaganda. In this regard the nuclear politics of NSG is a significant issue and it is important to find suitable policy alternatives for generating a viable international support by Pakistan for its membership of the NSG.
Dr. Cheema further introduced the second topic of discussion entitled “Pakistan’s Launch of Remote Sensing Satellites: Implication and Prospects”. He stated that Pakistan’s launch of Remote Sensing Satellite-1 (PRSS-1) and Technology Evaluation Satellite-1A (PakTES-1A) is a major milestone achieved by Pakistan. With this brief introduction of the topics Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema handed over the session to first speaker Mr. Muhammad Kamran Akhtar.
Mr. Muhammad Kamran Akhtar shared his views on “28th NSG Plenary Meeting: India’s Political Lobbying – a Success or Setback?” where he stated that the stalemate exists in the India-Pakistan NSG membership case. India’s policy makers are not much happy with the current state of the nuclear cartel. He mentioned that the NSG is important for Pakistan on three fronts: first is normative front where Pakistan and India have the same status as both are non-NPT states and have not violated any international law. Yet both non-NPT states have not been recognized as de-facto nuclear weapon states. However, the fact to keep in mind is that if India is provided the NSG membership while Pakistan is ignored, then India will be able to enhance its civil and military related nuclear capabilities. Hence, on normative front the NSG membership is indeed important for Pakistan. Coming down to the second front which is access to nuclear technology for peaceful uses, India is getting all kinds of technology which is specifically dual use. Along with that, India is allowed to get an access to technology benefits for innovation and socio-economic development while Pakistan’s access is being denied even with regards to equipments for nuclear oncology centers. So “access to nuclear technology” is another front that forces Pakistan to acquire membership of nuclear cartel. The third front is strategic; India has access to international suppliers of Uranium and is building its nuclear reserves. This factor is pivotal in undermining strategic stability in South Asia. Therefore,the membership of 48-member nuclear cartel will enable Pakistan to fulfill its socio-economic and strategic objectives. It should not just be viewed as a child’s obsession with the toy. Indian and the Western lobby portray Pakistan’s quest for NSG membership essentially as a means to gain military advantages but the reality is opposite. The fact is that it has implications for Pakistan on normative level, socio-economic level and strategic level. While discussing the politics of NSG, Mr. Akhtar added that the NSG politics can be understood by keeping in mind the year 2016, when Pakistan and India applied for the NSG membership. At that time there were two point of views: one in favor of India that it should be in the NSG while there was hardly any voice opposing India’s application. China was the only state placing a lot of emphasis on NPT as a precondition and a standard criterion to be applied to all the aspirants. There was hardly any third opinion on that. Following India, Pakistan also lodged its membership application and started lobbying for criteria based approach. Since then many countries are demanding the development of criteria before any non-NPT state is admitted into the NSG. In this regard, Ambassador Grossi from Argentina presented a two page formula for the non-NPT states specifically for India and Pakistan’s membership into the NSG. However, it is to be kept in mind that criteria lined out in the Grossi proposal endorsed only those commitments which India had already been following since 2008. Hence, the formula by no means put any additional responsibility or condition on India for it to be eligible for the membership of this nuclear cartel. Basically, it was maintained that 2008 exemption for India should be the sufficient basis and rationale for yet another exemption.
Grossi’s formula was strongly opposed and rejected by Pakistan. In 2016, Pakistan made a presentation in Vienna and was able to make a strong case for the NSG’s criteria based approach. Pakistan’s approach was to highlight loopholes in the Indian safeguard agreement pointing out the likelihood where India can anytime use the safeguarded material in unsafeguarded facilities. Although India has been portraying its separation plan as a success story, Pakistan pointed out that India possesses weapon grade Plutonium which it refuses to place under the IAEA safeguards. Pakistan also pointed out the other anomalies in the safeguard agreements that are not following the established safeguard model agreement of the IAEA, whereas Pakistani reactors are permanently under the IAEA safeguards. It was through these strenuous efforts of Pakistan pointing out loopholes within India’s nuclear program, the NSG member states were convinced that the 2008 exemption given to India should not be considered as the basis for NSG membership. This was a very logical and technical point of view, which the majority of NSG member states agreed upon and since then the debate about the criteria has further advanced during the last two years. Pakistan’s demand for criteria based approach gives the impression that Pakistan applied on the instigation of China with the aim to stop the Indian membership because there is a difference between China’s and Pakistan’s approach to NSG membership.
Talking about the prospects for Pakistan’s NSG membership Mr. Akhtar added that China is insisting that signing of NPT should be the precondition for any new membership of the NSG. China’s insistence is not without reason because the Procedural Arrangements Document of the NSG holds NPT as one of the requirement in order to be the NSG member. Therefore, China suggests either to amend the rule (by following the procedures for amendments of NSG rules) or to broker non-discriminatory criteria because another exemption would be harmful for the very credibility of non-proliferation regime. Since then, there have been many independent studies by Harvard Kennedy School, Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, and Institute of Science and International Security (ISIS). The reports by these institutes maintain that the 2008 exemption to India and access to nuclear related technology has helped India expand its nuclear program resultantly undermining the stability in South Asia.
Mr. Akhtar said that according to the experts there might be a compromised solution on the matter of NSG membership as in 2008 China was NSG member and it did allow exemption for India. In this regard Pakistan should be prepared and should keep on doing its homework so that if in case the NSG develops any criteria, Pakistan should be ready and prepared to join the NSG. In this regard, Pakistan should be aware that the commitments India made in 2008 will be the starting point in the new criteria. So, Pakistan should fulfill those commitments on time. Pakistan should seriously formulate a strategy on separation of civil and military nuclear facilities, safeguard agreements with the IAEA, and Additional protocol (AP). These technical issues should be thoroughly studied by the policy makers as policy statements clearly indicate that Pakistan is willing to look at these issues positively. It is not that Pakistan is making a compromise on these issues without getting anything in return. Pakistan’s policy should indicate that it would be willing to fulfill the required criteria but it should be granted the same exemption that India was granted in 2008. It must be admitted into the NSG on equal footing without any discrimination. Pakistan on its part has already been taking various effective measures such as implementation of 1514 resolution. It has developed mechanisms for monitoring and implementation of 1514 resolution. An international seminar was organized on 1514 implementation and recently another seminar was held on international export control which shows that Pakistan is making a good progress not only at the political front but also at the technical front to pursue its NSG membership case.
He further added that Pakistan should be more realistic and keep in mind that it cannot employ the kind of leverages that India could. It is a reality that India is a much bigger country with geo-strategic significance for the West and most importantly offers a big market to the world in this part of the region. So, these elements indeed play a central role in making India’s position more strong within the nuclear politics.
While talking about Pakistan’s strategy for NSG membership, he stated that Pakistan should employ a concerted effort jointly by all the governmental bodies where there should be coordination among various ministries and foreign office. Better governance of nuclear related issues can also play a significant role in fulfilling Pakistan’s objectives. He further added that with regards to NSG not only the international politics but the state’s domestic policy is also significant. Pakistan is strengthening its economic ties with the NSG member states i.e. South Korea, which was the chair of NSG. Pakistan opened up market for Korean cars including Hyundai and KIA. Though Japanese government and Toyota were not happy with that but it is to be understood that it was part of Pakistan’s effort to expand its trade connection with the NSG member states, simultaneously pursuing other strategic objectives as well. He further pointed out that it is very difficult to have much enthusiasm at political level on NSG as we see Prime Minister Narendra Modi himself has been lobbying for India’s NSG membership at the highest level.
While concluding, Mr. Akhtar stated that Pakistan should formulate a narrative regarding the civil nuclear program coinciding with its socio-economic benefits to pursue its case. Pakistan has 18 cancer radio therapy centers but none of them is of international standard including Pakistan Atomic Energy Commission’s center. Pakistan has to sell positive narrative about its nuclear program specifically highlighting its civilian nuclear program to serve the interests of its people. Pakistan should be focused on industrial, agricultural and health related benefits of the nuclear technology. Such initiatives would have positive impact not only on the people of Pakistan but also on the nuclear program of Pakistan. In the end, Mr. Akhtar stressed upon the significance of other nuclear regimes including Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and Wassenaar Arrangement (WA). He added that India is being critical of these regimes but still joined them to bolster its credentials for the NSG. Whereas, Pakistan is still not prepared and these issues are beyond the mandate of the foreign office. Pakistan should also focus on other nuclear regimes to improve its nuclear credentials at international level so that it can present its NSG case with much more force.
Second speaker Ambassador(R) Zamir Akram talked about “Pakistan’s NSG Stance: A Renewed Opportunity to Pursue its Case.” He started his speech by explaining the origins of NSG and factors required for its membership. He said that the NSG was created in response to Indian nuclear test of 1974. India demonstrated through those tests the possibility of employing dual use technologies for weapons – diversion from Indian civilian reactor to produce weapons grade fuel. The NSG guidelines were published in 1978 as IAEA Document INFCIRC/254 to apply to the nuclear technology transfers for peaceful purposes to help ensure that such transfers would not be diverted to unsafeguarded nuclear fuel cycle or nuclear explosive activities. He added that capacity of NPT and IAEA to prevent nuclear proliferation in the NSG guidelines is not sufficient to prevent diversion. According to the NSG guidelines NPT is the criteria for inclusion into the nuclear cartel. There is also another group that maintains that it is better to bring non-NPT nuclear weapon states into the non-proliferation Export Control Regimes.
While talking about political exceptionalism, Ambassador Akram added that decisions in the nuclear cartel are based on technical, legal and political factors. For some NSG members political and economic interests have overcome technical and legal conditions as is evident from the exemption given to India by the US in 2008. India after having received the waiver in return for certain commitments has already qualified for the membership. Now the US and its
partners are pushing for full membership on the basis of “like mindedness” and non-proliferation record of India. This is the approach that the US and its Western allies follow to support India’s case.
Talking about Pakistan’s NSG membership, he said that there is a hope that Pakistan would learn from its mistakes it committed in 2008. He expected that the political reversal might be faced due to faults of administration and the government of that time. When the Indian membership issue came up in 2016, Pakistan’s diplomacy was very slow to react to the emerging situations. So, in 2016 Pakistan had to prepare the grounds to lobby for equitable and criteria based approach towards the NSG membership to fulfill socio-economic needs and improve the nuclear credentials.
After the Seoul NSG plenary two step approach was agreed upon: first, the NSG agreed to formulate criteria that would be applicable to non-NPT member states; second stage was about considering the applications of non-NPT nuclear states. In this regard, Ambassador Grossi of Argentina proposed criteria designed to favor India. In the Grossi’s formula it was “proposed” to provide the NSG membership to India before Pakistan and that if and when Pakistan was accepted as a member, it would still need to obtain an NSG waiver for nuclear cooperation. This formula was clearly a discrimination against Pakistan and was therefore rejected by a large number of member states due to its highly discriminatory nature. Rather than the biased US strategy the more principled nations advocate that criteria for participation of the two candidates must go beyond the perfunctory commitments that are granted to India. However, many countries are not convinced with discriminatory policies of the US and seek additional and equitable criteria. For example, the states demand criteria such as accession to Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT). India has already refused to sign the CTBT. Whereas, Pakistan has agreed to join the CTBT if India does and in this regard Pakistan has also offered a bilateral test ban arrangement to India. He further added that some states accept India’s membership in NSG on the present grounds but also believe there should be equitable approach for other aspirants.
In terms of the Indian application, Pakistan has raised the issue of discriminatory attitude and in this regard China’s role and position remains firm in Pakistan’s support. In bilateral context with NSG member states, Pakistan has taken the position that it is not opposing anyone’s membership but demanding for equal and non-discriminatory treatment. While looking at Indian membership, international community should carefully analyze that India has failed to fully implement its own commitments given in return for the 2008 waiver such as full separation of its civilian and military nuclear facilities as pointed out by the Harvard University’s Belfer Centre and the Washington-based Arms Control Today think-tank. This enables New Delhi to once again engage in the clandestine diversion of nuclear fuel from civilian to military uses. While discussing India’s membership case, Ambassador Akram pointed out various aspects of Indian’s nuclear programs that are undermining the non-proliferation efforts:
Unaccounted for diversion from safeguarded civilian to un-safeguarded civilian facilities or to military facilities.
8 pressurized heavy water reactors and 4 fast breeder reactors are not under the safeguards.
Very weak Additional Protocol signed by India.
India rejects CTBT and voted against CTBT resolution; India also rejects leading international test monitoring systems.
It has agreed to FMCT – only regarding the future production of fissile material; but rejects consideration of the existing stock.
Rejects any new commitments; argues that existing commitments for 2008 are enough.
He highlighted another critical issue regarding the unsafeguarded civilian fissile material and stated that India acquires large quality of fissile material in the name of India’s civilian nuclear program. No one is aware as to what is going to happen with this substantial amount of fissile material, whether it will be used for civilian or for military purposes. Many nations are aware of this issue and according to the reports India’s stock of fissile materials for civilian purpose can be used to fulfill military purposes. These factors have enabled India to increase its inventory of nuclear related weapons and threaten the non-proliferation efforts.
Ambassador Akram discussed Pakistan’s membership briefly and maintained that Pakistan advocates equitable, non-discriminatory criteria, based on transparent approach. It has already fulfilled the separation criteria as all civilian reactors are under the IAEA safeguards. While discussing Pakistan’s nuclear credentials he highlighted following points:
Pakistan voted in favor of CTBT resolution; shows willingness to place international monitoring stations under appropriate conditions; unilateral moratorium on testing; offer to sign bilateral test ban treaty with India; or join CTBT if India does that too.
Pakistan advocates Fissile Material Treaty (FMT) instead of Fissile Material Cutoff Treaty (FMCT).
Pakistan adheres to NPT articles I; III (2) and IV; reaffirmed.
Adherence to Export Control laws in line with the NSG guidelines; as is evident from the measures taken by SECDIV; PNRA; safety and security.
He said that with these measures Pakistan is sequencing steps for the NSG membership and other cartels. While discussing the future prospects he mentioned that Pakistan is not in the position where the US would support Pakistan’s case in NSG due to two reasons: first, political interests; second, Pakistan doesn’t have strategic relevance in the current international environment unlike India. He added that no required consensus on membership criteria/factors for India and Pakistan is developed. Two step process is yet to take off. He further added that China, Turkey and other states are of the view that both non-NPT nuclear weapon states i.e. Pakistan and India should be treated equally without any discrimination. Therefore, with the change in the US leadership the momentum of US support for NSG membership has reduced. Current trends show that in the foreseeable future there is no possibility of another exemption for India but discrimination against Pakistan by the US and its partners will also continue. He concluded while stating that in NSG exceptionalism is no longer possible and only that criteria would be accepted which is non-discriminatory and equitable.
After the first round of discussion, Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema opened the floor for Question & Answer session.
Ms. Rubina Waseem, Lecturer at National Defence University, referring to Mr. Akhtar’s talk asked that although Pakistan stands for criteria based approach, it is still not clear as to how Pakistan’s diplomacy is working in that regard. Does Pakistan want India not to get the membership or is Pakistan pursuing its own case to get into the Nuclear Suppliers Group. Both approaches require different set of arguments. So, what is the proposed strategy of Pakistan on NSG membership with regards to India-Pakistan case? Dr. Cheema added to the question that although it is clear that International Relations do not work on criteria based approaches instead they work on politics of give and take. Pakistan’s demand for criteria based approach is an idealist view of International Relations. He further expressed his disagreement with Ambassador Zamir Akram’s point of view that Pakistan doesn’t have geo-political relevance in new international relations setup. He asserted that Pakistan may not have significance for the US and its allies but its geo-strategic importance for Russia and Central Asia cannot be ignored. He asked how wise it is that Pakistan should only continue to rely on China? Dr. Cheema added that political objective is to get the membership of NSG, the purpose is not to keep India out of NSG. So how Pakistan should deal with these matters? Mr. Muhammad Kamran Akhtar responded that there are several loopholes in India’s commitments to safeguard agreement and if Pakistan plugs in those loopholes then it will create a lot of problems for India. On the other hand, Pakistan is already fulfilling the IAEA’s commitments and willing to do so in the future as well. As per the IAEA regulations the states are asked to keep all the civil nuclear facilities under the IAEA’s safeguard. Pakistan doesn’t have any problem with these commitments as its power generation nuclear reactors are already under the IAEA safeguard while India has 8 nuclear power reactors outside the IAEA’s safeguards. These reactors are connected to the grid and do not produce the weapon grade Plutonium. So, by meeting the higher criteria regarding non-proliferation it would be India that will face the difficulties not Pakistan. Secondly, India refused to sign the CTBT in General Assembly. This shows that a lot of loopholes exist in India’s credentials and Pakistan should not be afraid especially in view of its own strong commitments and actions. Furthermore, Mr. Akhtar agreed with Dr. Cheema’s position on international politics and maintained that Pakistan has to be realistic about international politics that India’s political clout is very strong. But it is important to mention that despite India having extensive support and political lobbying Pakistan has pursued “criteria based approach” successfully and created problems for India. That is a successful example of diplomacy on part of Pakistan. He added that he doesn’t foresee any change in China’s position on NSG but still Pakistan should be prepared for any kind of eventuality.
Col. Muhammad Hanif, Senior Research Fellow, SVI, stated that while the US is enthusiastic about India’s NSG membership, on the other hand India is still pursuing its trade and economic ties with Iran and China. In this regard he asked what will be the implications of these strategies on India-US ties and how it would affect the US enthusiasm over India’s NSG membership case? Ambassador Akram responded that little tension between India and the US occurred on the issue of India’s import of oil from Iran but for the US it is a meager issue. Strategic requirement to be a partner with India in order to counter China is a more significant issue for the US. This factor is unlikely to change in a foreseeable future as relationship between the US and China grows more and more confrontational. Therefore, this minor issue will not reduce the strategic significance of India for the US.
Second Round of Discussion
In the second round of discussion Dr.Tughral Yamin expressed his views on “Pakistan’s Launch of Remote Sensing Satellites: Implication and Prospects”. Dr. Yamin stated that on 9th July 2018, China sent Pakistan’s indigenously developed Pak Technology Evaluation Satellite (PakTES-1A) and Remote Sensing Satellite System (RSSS)-1 developed by China Academy of Space Technology (CAST), using its Long March 2C/SMA rocket into the space. Dr.Yamin presented four aspects of Pakistan’s satellites: first, positive narrative on the socio-economic benefits of the remote sensing satellites; second, contours of Pakistan’s national space program; third, space budget; and fourth, the international cooperation.
He added that Remote Sensing Satellite System will play a positive role in Pakistan’s socio-economic sphere and enumerated following socio-economic benefits of these satellites:
1. Pakistan’s first PRSS-I will provide unhindered and improved data that will result in ample benefits to the nation. The acquired earth observation data would have both public and private uses. The information obtained from PRSS-I can fulfill various purposes, ranging from planning, managing, monitoring and utilization of natural resources thereby improving quality of life. At the same time, commercial and private uses of the same data could provide opportunities for economic growth and benefits for the common man of Pakistan.
2. Through PRSS-I, the environmental monitoring and management, covering all four environmental domains i.e. land, air, coast and marine would be accomplished.
3. The information derived from PRSS-I could improve knowledge of the supply of fresh water and assist in managing its distribution to water users appropriately.
4. The most important use of PRSS-I data includes weather/climate forecasting to track weather-related natural disasters like floods, storms, rain estimates etc. and in accelerating response, recovery and rebuilding efforts immediately afterwards by the relief departments. The accurate weather forecasts are also extremely valuable to determine country’s electricity demand, its generation, uninterrupted supply, electric infrastructure and onwards the cost to consumers which has been a critical issue of Pakistan since several years. It would help to reduce the economic and social costs of managing disasters and electricity demands of Pakistan substantially.
5. The state of Pakistan’s forests and estimates of the amount of carbon sequestered by them contributing to estimated rates of deforestation and degradation would also be a major benefit of this satellite contributing to the United Nations Collaborative Programme on Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation (UN
REDD+). The acquired data from PRSS-I would provide a broad synoptic view of landscape and an enhanced ability to manage natural resources of the country.
6. In agriculture sector, the data from PRSS-I can measure several indicators of performance related to irrigated agriculture. More accurate predictions about future weather and climate enable farmers and agribusinesses to estimate future crop yields, leading to reduced uncertainty about yields and prices. SUPARCO is using satellite technology for crop monitoring programs run through the use of satellite imagery, in reference to weather conditions, could add stability to our agricultural markets, thereby improving acquisition of food by under privileged.
7. The Geographic Information System (GIS) and sophisticated image processing software, as well as the Global Positioning System (GPS) place landscape details into a geographic reference system, incorporating earth observations into routine resource management operations by the respective agencies. Through the use of satellite imagery, national and provincial land management and monitoring departments can be supported to conduct surveys, marking and encroachment of boundaries so that urban developers and land managers may monitor and support decision making for sustainable urban development in the country.
8. The satellite data may be used to study the spread of several chronic diseases contributing to ensure health and recovery of common public. The GIS data analysis may help in identification and spread of diseases over time, population groups at risk, patterns of disease outbreaks, facility available to healthcare and program intervention planning and assessment in disease outbreak.
9. The use of macroeconomic production function model by economists could be used to estimate possible impacts of technological changes that would be achieved after launching and utilization of this Remote Sensing Satellite on the country’s GDP and derivative measures such as employments and earnings. The achieved results would be expressed as a rate of return to this investment because it focuses on the totality of the economic impact on the entire national economy.
10. The Hindukush-Karakoram–Himalaya (HKH) region is considered as the backbone of rivers in Pakistan. River Indus emanating from this area is the key source of fresh water which is essential for existence of millions of people living downstream. Water produced by glacial melting alongwith perennial snow and ice, contributes to around 70% of the total river Indus flow upstream of Tarbela reservoir. Considering this, SUPARCO is pursuing a comprehensive R&D program on glacier monitoring to provide relevant information about glaciers using time series optical and SAR satellite imagery. Specific areas include glaciers inventorying, glacial hazard mapping, snow and river runoff modeling and impact of climate change on glaciers.
In short, remote sensing satellites will offer Pakistan the ability to predict and ascertain level of precipitation, and runoff water for a given area. Moreover, it has greater application in agriculture, monitoring and predicting ground water supplies, flooding, drought and atmospheric changes in Pakistan. In doing so, SUPARCO has undertaken landmark projects such as development of geospatial systems for irrigation management, glaciers mapping and monitoring, river and flood vulnerability assessment, crop damage assessment, sea water intrusion mapping and ground water prospection. While highlighting the contours of Pakistan National Space Program he added that 2011 NCA approved Pakistan’s Space Program in 2011 and termed it as “Space Vision 2047”. National Space Program puts emphasis on exploiting all aspects of space, science, technology, and its applications for national well-being and national security. The mission statement of Pakistan’s space program is about “building, launching, and operating ‘communication, remote sensing, weather, and navigation satellites’ and developing their applications and spin-off technologies for national security and socio-economic development by 2047.” He further mentioned some of the key areas of space applications highlighted in Vision 2047 that include agriculture, health, education, disaster management, environment, and climate change, land planning, coastal and marine resources, geology and mineral prospection. Dr.Yamin said that Pakistan’s space policy is predominantly devised on technological determinism as it sees its space program for peaceful purposes and for socio-economic development. He further added that Pakistan’s space launched its first experimental satellite BADR-1 in 1990 which was indigenously designed and developed satellite flown into space for testing and validation of real-time data communication. BADR-2 was second experimental satellite of Pakistan which was launched in 2001. Furthermore, PakSAT-1R is the first communication satellite of Pakistan launched from China in 2011 which is operational in geostationary orbit. ICUBE-1 was student experimental satellite developed by Institute of Space Technology (IST) and was launched in 2013. While deliberating on the International Cooperation Dr.Yamin maintained that both satellites were launched from Chinese space launch facility. He added that Pakistan is an active observer in the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA). Likewise, Pakistan has signed United Nations’ Convention on Register of Objects Launched into Outer Space and has submitted documents of its all four satellites. In his concluding remarks he stated that Pakistan’s advance space program is the need of the hour due to growing demand in various sectors including communications, remote sensing, and navigation etc.
After the talk, the floor was again opened for Q&A session which led to a very interactive discussion.
Dr. Ghulam Mujaddid, Dean Department of Aerospace Sciences And Strategic Studies, Air University, added that one satellite is not enough to cover the whole area. Pakistan must also have the multispectral apparatus that can view things on sea and land surface as well as in the atmosphere. For that purpose, various operative systems, x-rays technology, infrared, and optical cameras are needed. The positive part is that all these things have been realized and Pakistan has launched its own remote sensing satellites. This is a much elaborated and comprehensive undertaking by Pakistan that was highly needed. He added that relationship of India’s space program and strategic stability is a very important issue which needs to be discussed. Dr.Ghulam Mujaddid further said that it is unfortunate that SUPARCO is the least explored dimension in Pakistan.
Dr. Zafar Iqbal Cheema, President/ Executive Director SVI asked whether these satellites help Pakistan in anyway to have military information in battle field and in command and control? Dr.TughralYamin replied that these satellites would indeed be helpful for military purposes and in finding out weather conditions and can also be used for the maintenance of military equipment. Dr. Ghulam Mujadid added that space technology is significant for all aspects of military operations including development and maintenance. It could be very helpful for military, intelligence and surveillance applications.
Mr. Muhammad Ali, Senior Research Fellow at the Centre for International Strategic Studies (CISS), added that the international commercial industry is playing an important role in space technology. He stated that space technology can be related to the MTCR politics. Some countries such as China and Kazakhstan which are offering economically competitive rates for commercial launching of satellites are actually the competitor of the US. States may offer more advanced technology on more expensive rates but they have multiple options foracquiring the satellite technology. This could be the reason as to why the US is against China’s MTCR membership as being an MTCR member China will get access to more advance technology to buildup sophisticated satellites and space program. Such developments are not without strategic and commercial implications.
In the end Dr. Zafar IqbalCheema, President/Executive Director SVI, offered his deepest thanks to the participants and the worthy speakers for their active participation in the discussion.
Media covered the proceedings of the In-house seminar as is evident from the following links: