The Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO) on 17 September 2019 thanked Indians in the country and abroad for the support it received after the space agency lost contact with the lander of the second lunar mission Chandrayaan-2, minutes before touchdown on the lunar surface on 7 September. As for Pakistan, the failure of Indian space mission Chandrayaan-2 to land on moon provoked widespread discussion in Pakistan. The moon landing mission debate came amidst a state of high tensions between people of Pakistan and India over the issue of Kashmir, which persists.
The first ‘unmanned’ moon landing was in September 1959 by US, which was closely followed by Soviet Russia in the very next month. A prolonged space race followed between the two super powers of that time. In fact Washington dragged the USSR into the race of dominance of space, in order to overstretch and destroy Russian economy. Washington’s Star Wars program was the talk of media in the years before the collapse of communism. Fearful of American supremacy in space technology, with the installation of a space defence shield using laser or particle beam technology to intercept and destroy incoming nuclear missiles, Russia chased America in the space race until the economy of Russia finally collapsed, after being hammered by a prolonged war in Afghanistan. Significantly, the Star Wars program was more media hype than substance, since it had many technological difficulties and prohibitively high costs.
The moon missions were an indication of supremacy in technology for the two competing powers. Today, through its attempt to land on the moon India is also seeking to project the country’s advancement in science and technology. By trying to land on moon, India seeks to show the world that it is at par with China, which made a moon landing in 2007, whilst also projecting that it has left Pakistan behind. As such this conforms to the American plan to make India counter China as a regional hegemon. However the moon landing mission by India has more ceremonial value, than being part of a real strategic gain. Whilst China has landed on the surface of moon and its GDP has surpassed that of the US, but on the whole, technologically, it remains behind. China has been unable to manufacture its own engines for its fighter planes, depending on Russia. And India is further lagging behind China.
Those who think that Pakistan should focus on science and technology, devoid of advancement in military technology, such as space technology, should know that it was the military build-up around World War II that allowed the journey to the moon to be a reality. German scientists and engineers forged advancements in long-range rockets like the V2. As World War 2 ended, the Americans extradited German scientists to work on their rocket program. The Americans managed to take the key architect of the German rocket program, Wernher Von Braun. who would play an instrumental role in the Saturn V rockets that would end up taking man to the moon. The Russians were not far behind, as they also took V2 rockets home and started their own program.
Space technology is essential for military and non-military satellites and communications. Pakistan needs advancement in technology, heavy industry and numerous scientific ancillary fields in order to finish off its dependency on the West for technology, military equipment and industry. This would allow it to pursue an independent course in building its strong industrial base. Pakistan must have its own industrial complex to build jet engines, weapons, oil rigs, land mining equipment, avionics, computer and telecommunication and tertiary health care medical equipment. Advancement in space technology would naturally accompany this. Pakistan possesses good missile technology already and much local talent.
If it has a visionary leadership which implements Islam comprehensively, Pakistan could secure all manner of technological advancement and research. Islam was the underpinning factor for the great progress of Muslims in the past in the form of a Khilafah state (Caliphate). Islam gave Muslims a vision to spread the message of Islam to the whole world through Dawa and organized Jihad. The Khilafah state expanded till it became the sole super power of the world for over a millennium. InshaaAllah it will be the Khilafah state again that would bring glory to Islam and Muslims. Allah (swt) said in the Noble Quran, وَأَعِدُّوا لَهُمْ مَا اسْتَطَعْتُمْ مِنْ قُوَّةٍ وَمِنْ رِبَاطِ الْخَيْلِ تُرْهِبُونَ بِهِ عَدُوَّ اللَّهِ وَعَدُوَّكُمْ وَآخَرِينَ مِنْ دُونِهِمْ لاَ تَعْلَمُونَهُمُ اللَّهُ يَعْلَمُهُمْ “Make ready for them all you can of (armed) force and of horses tethered, that thereby you may dismay the enemy of Allah and your enemy, and others beside them whom you know not. Allah knows them.” [Surah Al-Anfal 8:60]. And He (swt) said, هُوَ الَّذِي أَرْسَلَ رَسُولَهُ بِالْهُدَى وَدِينِ الْحَقِّ لِيُظْهِرَهُ عَلَى الدِّينِ كُلِّهِ وَلَوْ كَرِهَ الْمُشْرِكُونَ “He is the One who has sent down His Messenger with guidance and the Faith of Truth, so that He makes it prevail over every faith, no matter how the Mushriks may hate it.” [Surah At-Tauba 9: 33]
Usman Adil – Pakistan