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New ‘Stars War’ Dream should not come true By Mumtaz Hussain

This year is no doubt a very much significant for South Asia countries space programs’ relatively long history. To count just some of them, for instance, 7th of June marks the 55th anniversary of the successful launch of Rehbar-1-the first rocket launched by Pakistan’s Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission (SUPARCO). One who leads the way’ (Rehbar literal meaning in Urdu) was a unique achievement that even surprised NASA’s specialists. Pakistan was the first amongst all developing and Islamic countries to carry out a scientific rocketry program.

With launching of Rehbar-1, our country became the third in Asia, first in South Asia and the tenth in the world to launch a vessel into outer space. Another example worth mentioning was in February this year India successfully launched 104 satellites in a single mission setting what is state-run India Space Research Organization (ISRO) said was a world record of launching the most satellites at one go. But unfortunately national aerospace programs, development sometimes can be considered as threat to some other countries’ national interests and become an excuse for tough and inadequate reaction from their side.And surprisingly, such concerns are mostly heard from the country having long and sustainable supremacy in space. So, United States (US) satellites are increasingly vulnerable to attack by space weaponry from other countries, recently warned US senator Ted Cruz.

‘I think sticking our heads in the sand and saying , we don’t want an arms race, so we’re just going to ignore the threats-that’s not a prudent step, he said. To respond such threats another US official added, US should develop their own versions of space weapons.’ The United States needs to make clear that it’s ready and able to fight a war that extends into space, said Navy Vice Adm. Charles A. Richard, deputy commander of US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM). ‘While we’re not at war in space, I don’t think we can say we’re exactly at space, either, he concluded. So, new’ Star Wars’ then? Yes. Because it is highly likely that the Trump administration will move to heave the U.S deploy weapons in space. If this happens, it will be profoundly destabilizing, setting off an arms race and also likely leading to war in space. For decades there,s been interest by U.S administrations-the Reagan administration with its’ star wars’ plan a leading example- in placing weapons in space. But that has alternated with some administrations more or less opposed, the Obama administration an example. Still, no matter the administration, since work at the United Nations began in 1985 on a treaty seeking as its title declares, the Prevention of an Arms Race in Outer Space (PAROS), the U.S has not supported it.

Canada, Russia and China have been leaders in the urging passage of this PAROS treaty and there has been virtually universal baking from nations around the world. But by balking, U.S administration after administration has prevented this passage. With Trump administration, more than non-support of the PAROS treaty is probable. A drive by the U.S to weaponize space appears in the offing. In fact, the U.S who, no doubt, have supremacy in space technologies want to use them for global military-political and military-strategic dominance. Just imagine what will happen if U.S drones-more developed but still drones by their nature-are able to attack their targets on Earth? Such kind of ‘super drone’ meant to boost the U.S military’s prompt global strike efforts to deliver weapon airstrikes to any location in the world within an hour. Furthermore, just recently at the annual space symposium, Alabama Republican Congressman Mike Rogers called for the creation of a military space corps, noting that the proposed service branch would be ‘just like the air force, which had to be separated from the army in order to be prioritized and become a world class military service.

But whose interests they will serve and will they be able to follow international laws? It is clear that outer space by all means should not become the new global battle field where developed countries will dominate in the name of their own interests. U.S monopoly on space weapons can make the global situation more unstable and provoke more unilateral use of force from U.S side which definitely remains unpunished. No doubt that a lot of countries, especially developing, do not pay enough attention to the issue because of their own internal problems, economical instability and lack of scientific potential. But Pakistan as the only Islamic nuclear state with a long history of successful space program should not stay away of the process and become one of the leaders of those Muslim countries who are brave enough to raise their voices against further militarizing of the outer space by the U.S and at the same time show ones readiness to unite efforts with those non-Muslim countries who for decades fought for PAROS.

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