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India’s Space Advancements and Its Implications for Pakistan and South Asia

India's Space Advancements and Its Implications for Pakistan and South Asia

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India’s renewed interest in strengthening its space programs, exemplified by the launch of Chandrayaan-3, has sparked a debate over its implications for Pakistan and the overall strategic stability of South Asia.

The rapid technological and economic advancements of India have enabled it to invest in outer space and gain an advantage in communication, navigation, surveillance, and reconnaissance programs.

However, these advancements, particularly in the form of advanced satellites aiding in intelligence gathering and high-resolution imagery, pose a significant threat to Pakistan’s security and sovereignty.

Pakistan’s economic constraints limit its ability to invest in such technological advancements, and even with China’s help, it struggles to maintain the balance of power in the region.

Although Indian officials have apparently maintained the stance that their space exploration programs are for peaceful purposes, such as the discovery of minerals and strengthened communication through satellites and navigation, there is a persistent threat of hidden agendas like surveillance and reconnaissance.

India’s space dominance has far-reaching implications. Its advanced satellites aid in intelligence gathering, high-resolution imagery, and surveillance of Pakistan’s military activities. India has even developed an Anti-satellite system, capable of attacking and damaging other satellites.

These advancements pose a significant threat to Pakistan’s security and sovereignty. To counter these initiatives, Pakistan must immediately implement the United Nations Office for Outer Space Affairs (UNOOSA) Liability Convention, which holds the other country liable in case of damage caused to space objects. These measures are not just crucial, but urgent, for the maintenance of space sovereignty.

In addition to its technical advantages, India has also received international recognition and is imbued with prestige over its successful moon landing. This casts a shadow on Pakistan’s already deteriorated image as politically unstable and economically fragile.

At international fora, Indian officials and diplomats have ignored interaction with Pakistani officials to portray Pakistan in a negative light and maintained the stance that they perceive Pakistan as a terror-sponsoring state. Now, the lack of Pakistan in technological and economic fields further role Pakistan as a failed state or a weak state. 

There is an immediate need to take brisk action to subtly recover the soft image of Pakistan by focusing less on military operations and developing a positive research environment, particularly in space-based activities.

Some satellites, such as certain types of Satellite Launch Vehicles (SLVs), have the potential to be repurposed for military applications as Intermediate Range Ballistic Missiles (IRBMs). Such technologies can trigger an arms race in South Asia as Pakistan and China both will look forward to sending more weapons into outer space to counter India’s space weapons.

India possesses a remote-sensing satellite, which is claimed to be used for peaceful purposes but can also be used for spying purposes; in addition to that, the INSAT is a multipurpose satellite that can carry out telecommunication, meteorological services, and broadcasting facilities from a single geostationary platform.

These products imbue India’s space program with a more efficient communication system in case of conflict. These technological advancements provide Pakistan’s military with the prerequisites to invest in better munitions for use in space and enhance satellite communication in case of conflict. Pakistan can divert its resources and research from the more perilous nuclear weapons to relatively peaceful space technology.

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On a more positive note, India’s space program could serve as a catalyst for Pakistan’s technological advancement. This could inspire Pakistan’s SUPARCO to invest in space-related technology and foster research and development in space technologies to compete with India’s ISRO. Such a development would undoubtedly have a positive impact on Pakistan’s technological landscape.

Furthermore, India’s increasing influence in space might prompt Pakistan and China to form an alliance, sharing technological and military know-how to counter India’s presence. The two nations could also strengthen their friendship through study exchange programs and workshops discussing the benefits of joint space exploration programs.

The space race has shifted the center of attention from the nuclear arms race to the space race, which can be seen as an opportunity for Pakistan. Instead of viewing this situation as a threat, Pakistan can take this as an opportunity to promote healthy competition. 

This could lead to technological advancements and a more robust space program for Pakistan, potentially enhancing its strategic capabilities and international standing.

Overall, the aspects of an arms race in the sub-continent are bound to change, considering the recent developments. The broader impact of this space race will affect the strategic stability of South Asia. And compel the adjacent countries to invest in space technology.

At this time, there is a growing need for the effective putting of laws. That entails using outer space for peaceful purposes like discovering metals, communication, and direction through satellites. The UNOOSA  needs to work well and play an active role. In achieving the peaceful use of outer space and preventing this space race from taking a negative turn.


** The opinions expressed in this article are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views or position of World Affairs Insider. The organization neither endorses nor takes responsibility for the content of this article and its accuracy.

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