ISLAMABAD: India’s unwillingness to allow other Saarc countries to participate in the development of a Saarc satellite made Pakistan quit the project.

Foreign Office spokesman Nafees Zakaria, while explaining Pakistan’s absence from the South Asian Satellite launched by India on Friday, said: “As India was not willing to develop the project on a collaborative basis, it was not possible for Pakistan to support it as a regional project under the umbrella of Saarc.”

Mr Zakaria recalled that India had at the 18th Saarc (South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation) summit in Kathmandu in 2014 had offered to gift Saarc satellite to member countries, but it turned out that India wanted to build, launch and operate the satellite all by itself except for registering it with the International Telecommuni­cations Union (ITU) as a Saarc Satellite.

“Pakistan, which has its own space programme at an advanced level, was ready to share its expertise and technological know-how and was keen to participate in the project but India’s solo flight caused Pakistan to opt out of the project,” the spokesman said.

The satellite, after Pakistan’s departure from the project, was renamed as the South Asian Satellite.

Asked for update on the case of a retired colonel, who went missing in Nepal last month, the spokesman said that the matter was being pursued with the Nepalese government, but there had been “not much progress”.

He said the outcome of the investigations being carried out by the Nepal government was awaited.

Published in Dawn, May 6th, 2017

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