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Pakistan Decries Militarization Of Space After Indian Missile Test


Indian men watch the live broadcast of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address to the nation in Amritsar on March 27.
Indian men watch the live broadcast of Prime Minister Narendra Modi's address to the nation in Amritsar on March 27.

Pakistan has spoken out against the militarization of space after neighboring India said it had successfully managed to shoot down a low-orbit satellite in a missile test.

"Space is the common heritage of mankind and every nation has the responsibility to avoid actions which can lead to the militarization of this arena," Pakistan's Foreign Ministry said in a statement on March 27.

India and Pakistan have a history of bitter relations since gaining independence from Britain in 1947.

The two nuclear-armed rivals have fought three wars, two of them over the disputed Himalayan region of Kashmir, where the two sides still regularly exchange fire.

Earlier in the day, Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi said that his country was now a "space power" after a missile fired from eastern India downed a satellite in orbit at around 300 kilometers above the Earth in "a difficult operation" that lasted around three minutes.

India would be only the fourth country to have used such an antisatellite weapon after the United States, Russia, and China, Modi said in a televised address to the nation.

Such capabilities have raised fears of the weaponization of space and setting off a race between rivals.

China's Foreign Ministry said it hoped all countries "can earnestly protect lasting peace and tranquility in space."

In its statement, the Pakistani Foreign Ministry expressed hope that "countries which have in the past strongly condemned demonstration of similar capabilities by others will be prepared to work towards developing international instruments to prevent military threats relating to outer space."

It did not mention India by name.

India's Ministry of External Affairs said that the country had "no intention of entering into an arms race in outer space," adding, "We have always maintained that space must be used only for peaceful purposes."

A statement said that India's space capabilities "do not threaten any country and nor are they directed against anyone."

With voting set to begin on April 11, India's opposition accused Modi of trying to score political points and take credit for the achievements of the country's space agency.

With reporting by the BBC, AP, AFP, and Reuters
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