The Pakistan Antarctic Programme (Urdu: پاکستان جنوبی قطب برنامه, abbreviated as PAP) is a scientific administrative division of the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) which represents the Government of Pakistan on the continent of Antarctica. The program coordinates scientific research and operational support in the region. The program is funded by the Pakistan Science Foundation and the Ministry of Science and Technology.
Currently, the PAP maintains and controls two polar stations in the region: the Jinnah Antarctic Station (JNS), and the Polar Research Cell (PRC), which was established by the National Institute of Oceanography to co-ordinate all Antarctic related activities.
The Antarctic Programme was launched by the National Institute of Oceanography, with the full support of Pakistan Navy's Naval Weapons Engineering Division (NWED). In 1991, Prime minister Nawaz Sharif established the programme under the direction of the Navy. On 15 June 1992, Pakistan became an Associate Member of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research, but did not accede to the Antarctic Treaty due to economic reasons.
In January 1991, Pakistan dispatched its first expedition to Greater Antarctica under the auspices of the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO). As the programme was led by the Navy, the PN dispatched a small group of Pakistan Marines, along with the team of scientists on board the destroyer PNS Tariq and the research vessel PNS Behr Paima. Facilities were quickly established in the region, and Jinnah Antarctic Station (JNS) was commissioned. The station houses an unmanned automatic Weather Station, from which data are transmitted to Pakistan via Argos Satellite System. In 2001, the Badr-B was connected to the Weather Station after it was launched by SUPARCO. In 2006, Pakistan established the National Institute of Oceanography's Polar Research Cell (PRC).
A number of national organisations are involved in Antarctic activities and are active participants in the Pakistan Antarctic Programme.
Both stations' data are transmitted to Pakistan via the Badr-B Satellite. However, the new Pakistan Remote Sensing Satellite System was launched in late 2011 to replace the Badr satellite system program.
The main objectives of the Pakistan Antarctic Programme are to undertake multidisciplinary research and survey the Antarctic region, with particular attention to geology and geophysics. Studies also include environmental and oceanographic research.
Pakistan's research activities are in conformity with the tenets of the Scientific Committee on Antarctic Research (SCAR), of which Pakistan is an associate member. Pakistanis have gained experience and capability by launching two major expeditions, thus strengthening Pakistan's ability to conduct research in the harsh Antarctic environment. Apart from this, useful environmental and oceanographic data has been collected in the region, and relevant technical information on Antarctic affairs has been provided to the Pakistani government.
Pakistan maintains two summer research stations and one weather observatory in the vicinity of the Sør Rondane Mountains, Queen Maud Land, in Eastern Antarctica. The Jinnah Antarctic Station is the centre of most operations, and travel to and from Antarctica is done through the airfield at the JAS.