For the moment it is a sci-fi, but do not be surprised if it turns out to be a reality. After a five-day flight or so to the moon, two Indian vyomanauts touch down on the lunar surface. As they climb down the ladder carrying the Indian tri colour, who greets them? Any guess? A person from Kerala selling coconuts? No. It is a Pakistani immigration official who politely requests them for their lunar passport. After the arrival formalities are completed they are invited for a Chinese lunch or dinner by the Pak official!
Yes, right now this is only a sci-fi. But do not be surprised if someday this scenario becomes a reality. In one of the earlier ``Beyond Moon and Mars (BMM).'' it was hinted in a light hearted way that the possibility a Pakistani astronaut/cosmonaut or taikonaut landing on the moon with the help of China, prior to an Indian cannot be entirely ruled out given the current geo political scenario.
In a way this has been confirmed in a story in today's issue of the prestigious space website SpaceDaily.com. The writer a well known Austalian space analyst, Morris Jones, in an article entitled ``International Crew For Shenzhou,'' states: `` There's one potential partner that's rarely discussed in human space flight circles: Pakistan.''
According to Jones' analysis strategic links between China and Pakistan are highly developed saying that both nations enjoy very good inter governmental relations. Keeping this in view he states: ``A Pakistani astronaut launched abroad Shenzhou seems quite feasible, if China wishes to offer a place,'' he writes.
Jones has however failed to mention that China and Pakistani already has a nuke tie up and the former has helped the latter to design and develop its nuclear weapons.So, the space sector cannot be really that far off.
``At the moment, Pakistan has no human space flight programme and has never launched an astronaut with any other nation. It is also confronted by the rise of a human space flight programme in India. There would be strong motivations for both China and Pakistan to launch a joint mission, if only for political reasons,'' he says.
Based on the experience of Sputnik, when the US was rudely shaken by the launch on October 4,1957, it is time New Delhi pays serious heed to statement of Jones even if it is pure speculation for the moment. New Delhi should not wake up one morning to be confronted with the headlines: ``Pak in space in Chinese spaceship.''
It is high time that New Delhi allots the fund for India's human space flight programme. Isro has been waiting for it for quite sometime. But the complete funding of nearly Rs 13,000 crores has not happened so far regrettably. Why is New Delhi sitting over the files? Let us not be beaten by Pakistan,
Pakistan's space programme is handled by an organisation known as Suparco short form for Pakistan's Space and Upper Atmosphere Research Commission. In September 2007, when I attended the International Astronautical Congress in Hyderabad, I met a group of Suparco scientists while waiting for our hotel buses. In an informal chat they said that they would be willing to team up with India in space programmes.
After the story was published in The Times of India the next day I was unable to trace them at the hi-tech convention centre!