Pakistan isolated as India launches South Asian satellite; SAARC nations thank PM Modi
The Indian Space Research Organisation (ISRO) today launched the South Asia Communication Satellite GSAT-9 from the Satish Dhawan Space Centre at Sriharikota. The Geostationary Communication Satellite will boost connectivity among SAARC nations except Pakistan. Islamabad had refused to accept India's 'gift', which Modi had proposed soon after becoming the Prime Minister in 2014.
Modi, who has projected the satellite as India's ‘priceless gift’ to its neighbours, said the ‘unprecedented’ development sends out a message that ‘even sky is not the limit when it comes to regional cooperation’.
The launch was celebrated jointly through a video conference by Modi, Afghan President Ashraf Ghani, Bangladesh Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, Bhutanese Prime Minister Thering Tobgay, Maldivian President Abdulla Yameen, Nepalese Prime Minister Pushpa Kamal Dahal and Sri Lankan President Maithripala Srisena.
"Successful launch of South Asian Satellite is a historic moment. It opens up new horizons of engagement," Modi tweeted immediately after the GSLV-F09 carrying South Asia Communication Satellite lifted off from Sriharikota spaceport.
"Today is a historic day, a day without any precedence," he said later while addressing the video conference.
Underlining the concept of 'sabka sath, sabka vikas' (cooperation of all, development for all), he said the development marked fulfilment of India's promise made two years back to advance its space technology for the growth and prosperity of South Asia.
Noting that this was the first of its kind project in South Asia, Modi said the satellite would help the individual countries in meeting their own needs with regard to development, better governance, poverty eradication and disaster mitigation.
He said that India wanted growth, development and peace in the region and was keen to utilise technology to pursue this goal for the shared prosperity.
Hailing the scientists of the ISRO for ensuring the flawless launch, he said that the satellite will greatly benefit South Asia and the region's progress.
"This (launch) tells us that even sky is not the limit when it comes to regional cooperation," he said.
"This symbolises our unshakeable resolve to place the needs of our peoples in the forefront," Modi added.
He said that the mantra was "Cooperation, not confrontation, development, not destruction and prosperity, not poverty."
"Sabka sath, sabka vikas can be the guiding light for action and cooperation in South Asia and a befitting way for us to achieve our shared priorities of economic prosperity for our people," the Prime Minister said.
"And in this, you will find a strong and committed partner in India that truly believes in the strength of this choice and principle," he told leaders of Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Sri Lanka, Maldives and Afghanistan which are a part of the project.
"We are a united family of South Asian countries, united in our pursuit of peace, progress & prosperity of our region and the entire humankind," the Prime Minister said.
SAARC nations thank PM Modi for ‘very priceless gift’
Ghani described the launch as "South Asia's giant step towards regional cooperation" and said it makes the region's integration a reality.
Hailing India's "pioneering" endeavour and Modi's vision, he said, "cooperation outweighs confrontation".
Hasina, while congratulating Modi and ISRO for the launch, said it will "change the face of South Asia".
With the launch, the cooperation among the South Asian nations has expanded from land, water, air to space, she said.
Tobgay described it as a "historic moment for the world" and said the "gift from India reflects true cooperation".
Thanking India and Modi for the "very priceless gift", the Bhutanese leader said the free use of the data from the satellite will greatly benefit his landlocked country which does not have the capacity on its own to launch satellites.
Yameen said the "very special gift" symbolises vision and commitment of Modi towards the region.
Noting that the satellite will serve to improve the lives of people of entire South Asia, the Maldivian President said, "I call upon all South Asian friends to seize this opportunity", perhaps a message to Pakistan which has refused to join the project.
Dahal, popularly known as 'Prachanda', thanked Modi and India for "the thoughtfulness" of sharing the data of the satellite with other countries of the region.
"This is a testimony of South Asia becoming self-reliant in space technology. Nepal looks forward to the best use of the data," the Nepalese leader said.
He said he looked forward to India's help in developing the human resources of Nepal in usage of the satellite's data.
Srisena described the occasion as "historic" and said the development signifies inclusiveness and friendly cooperation.
Modi, soon after taking over as the Prime Minister in 2014, had made a unilateral proposal of India launching the satellite whose data would be shared with the SAARC countries for their development and prosperity.
Initially, it was to be named as 'SAARC Satellite' but its name was changed to South Asia Satellite after Pakistan refused to join the project.
The satellite will provide a significant capability to each of the participating countries in terms of DTH, certain VSAT capacity plus linking among the states for both disaster information transfer and also in terms of library type of things.
Meanwhile, Pakistan termed the satellite launched today as solely made by India and therefore it cannot be called a regional project.
"Pakistan has its own space programme at an advanced level and is ready to share its expertise and technological know-how and was keen to participate in the (Indian) project," Foreign Office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria said.
Maithripala Sirisena, President of Sri Lanka
It is an honour to congratulate you (PM Modi) on this historic occasion. This initiative will provide assistance to many priority areas of the region. May this initiative support people in all regions, enhance economic conditions & help eliminating poverty.
Pushpa Kamal Dahal, PM of Nepal
We extend hearty congratulations to PM Modi and Government of India. This will enhance connectivity. This will be helpful to provide communication services in the mountain and hilly regions of Nepal.
Abdullah Yameen, President of Maldives
Gives me immense pleasure to be a part of this occasion. On behalf of the Maldives my gratitude to PM Modi and India. This launch is an example of India's 'neighbour first policy'. We must work for common good, better economic opportunities.
Tshering Tobgay, Prime Minister of Bhutan
Launch of the South Asia satellite historic moment for the world, it ushers in a new era of regional cooperation. My heartfelt thanks to the visionary leader, PM Modi for dedicating it to the common progress of the South Asian region. Launch of this satellite, our satellite, augurs well for our region and for nations like Bhutan.
Sheikh Hasina, PM of Bangladesh
Happy to be able to talk to PM Narendra Modi and other esteemed leaders. On today's auspicious occasion, I congratulate the Government of India (for the successful launch). Betterment of our people can happen through fruitful engagement
Ashraf Ghani, President of Afghanistan
Through this cooperation, we have to work for the poor and the deprived. Development must be citizen centric. Today's development is child centred and women centred, it makes governance accessible. This is an extremely important step to know nature and nature's patterns.
Narendra Modi, Prime Minister of India
* Through this we will achieve effective communication, better governance, better banking services & better education in remote areas. Space technology will touch the lives of our people in the region: PM Modi
Our coming together is a sign of our unshakeable resolve to place the needs of our peoples in the forefront, says PM Modi
* Two years ago, India made a promise. A promise to extend the advanced space technology for the cause of growth and prosperity of our brothers and sisters in South Asia: PM Modi
* Today is a historic day for South Asia...a day without precedence: PM Modi