ISLAMABAD: Pakistan and Russia Wednesday voiced concern over the weaponisation of the outer space and vowed to prevent it from becoming an arena for military confrontation, nearly two months after India shot down one of its satellites in space with an anti-satellite missile.
Pakistan’s Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi and his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov signed a joint statement on ‘No First Placement of Weapons in Outer Space’ on the sidelines of the Shanghai Cooperation Organisation Council of Foreign Ministers’ meeting in Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan.
The joint statement said that the outer space should be used in compliance with international law for the benefit of all nations, regardless of the level of their economic, scientific or technological development.
Pakistan’s Foreign Office (FO) in statement said that the two countries share a common position on the prevention of arms race in outer space and work collectively in various international fora towards that goal.
“The signing of the joint statement on No First Placement of Weapons in Outer Space is a reflection of convergence of views between the two sides,” it said.
The FO said Pakistan and Russia reiterated their commitment to refrain from the threat or use of force in outer space activities. “We encourage other responsible space-faring nations to follow this example,” it added.
— Dr Mohammad Faisal (@ForeignOfficePk) May 22, 2019
The joint statement emphasised that the achievement of an international treaty preventing the arms race in outer space as well as banning the placement or use of weapons therein is a priority for the international community.
It said the two countries “declare that they will not in any way be the first to place weapons of any kind in Outer Space, that they will make all possible efforts to prevent Outer Space from becoming an arena for military confrontation and to ensure security in Outer Space activities.”
The FO said the use of force against space based objects, the development and deployment of Anti Ballistic Missile (ABM) systems and their integration into space assets have added worrying dimensions to the issues relating to outer space.
Pakistan said there is an urgent need to address gaps in the international legal regime governing the exploration and use of outer space with a view to ensuring that no one threatens peaceful activities and applications of space technologies for socio-economic development.
The development comes nearly two months after India announced that it shot down one of its satellites in space on March 27 with an anti-satellite missile, making it only the fourth country after the US, Russia and China to acquire the strategic capability to shoot down enemy satellites.
Pakistan at the time said that it was against the militarisation of outer space.
Pakistan’s ties with Russia have moved past the bitter Cold War hostilities and the chill in the US-Pakistan relations has further pushed the country towards Russia and China.
The two countries in August last year inked an agreement allowing Pakistani troops to train in Russia.
The two armies have been holding the ‘Friendship’ drills since 2016.
In October 2016, they held their first-ever joint military exercise in Pakistan. In 2017, over 200 servicemen took part in the drills, hosted by Russia at Minralney Vody in the North Caucasus at an altitude of 2,300 meters above sea level.
In November 2018, the Pakistan and Russian armies held their third joint military drill – Druzhba-III – during which troops from both the countries took part in various exercises in the mountains in Nowshehra district of northwestern Pakistan.