India calls satellite 'gift to South Asia', Pakistan says no thanks

Published May 5, 2017
The Indian Space Research Organisation's GSAT-9 on board the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F09), launches in Sriharikota in the state of Andhra Pradesh. —AFP
The Indian Space Research Organisation's GSAT-9 on board the Geosynchronous Satellite Launch Vehicle (GSLV-F09), launches in Sriharikota in the state of Andhra Pradesh. —AFP

India launched a communications satellite on Friday for its smaller neighbours to share, part of its efforts to build goodwill in the region and counter Chinese influence, but arch-rival Pakistan said it would stay away from the project.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who came to office promising to strengthen ties with neighbours such as Sri Lanka, Nepal and even Pakistan, has called the satellite a gift to south Asia.

“The successful launch of South Asia Satellite is a historic moment. It opens up new horizons of engagement,” he said soon after an Indian-made rocket carrying the satellite lifted off from the Sriharikota space centre in southern India.

So far Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Nepal, Sri Lanka and the Maldives have signed up to make use of the satellite. Pakistan said it was working on its own satellite and did not join.

The South Asia Satellite will offer participating countries television services and communications technology for bank ATMs and e-governance, and may even serve as a backup for cellular networks, especially in places where the terrestrial connectivity is weak, the Indian foreign ministry said.

India is trying to push back against China's expanding involvement in infrastructure building across south Asia, by offering financial and technical aid of its own.

Modi said the leaders of the participating countries had joined him in a video conference to mark the launch.

Ties with Pakistan remain difficult, with the Indian government this week accusing Pakistan of killing and then mutilating the bodies of two soldiers on patrol on the disputed Kashmir border, provoking calls for retribution. Pakistan denied the accusation.

Opinion

Editorial

IMF package
Updated 28 Jan, 2023

IMF package

While it is crucial to seek immediate IMF funding to shore up its reserves, the govt shouldn’t focus only on short-term relief.
Dar unpegged
28 Jan, 2023

Dar unpegged

IT is over. Nearly four months after Ishaq Dar descended on the cash-strapped economy with some decidedly outlandish...
Lurking hazards
28 Jan, 2023

Lurking hazards

OVERSIGHT of illegal industrial activity occurring within residential areas in the country is weak, especially in...
Election time
Updated 27 Jan, 2023

Election time

There are concerns whether the ECP will be sufficiently able to protect the integrity of elections if they are held under partisan governments.
SCO invite
27 Jan, 2023

SCO invite

THOUGH India’s invitation to Pakistan to attend the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation events in Goa later this ...
Call to arms
27 Jan, 2023

Call to arms

ONE way the state abdicates responsibility in Pakistan is by farming out its functions to the private sector. In ...