New Page in Azer­bai­jan Pak­istan Re­la­tions

The Diplomatic Insight - - Front Page - Muham­mad Asif Noor

Prime Min­is­ter of Pak­istan Muham­mad Nawaz Sharif was in Azer­bai­jan from 13-15 Oct, 2016 on an of cial state level visit to the coun­try on the in­vi­ta­tion of Pres­i­dent Il­ham Aliyev. He was ac­com­pa­nied with the high­est level mem­ber del­e­ga­tion to the coun­try. Dur­ing the visit, two state re­it­er­ated their po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic re­solve cou­pled with de­fense co­op­er­a­tion to en­hance the part­ner­ship to the next level of con­ge­nial­ity of re­la­tions. The visit is a re ec­tion of Pak­istan s emerg­ing new vi­sion of en­hanc­ing and strength­en­ing its con­nec­tions and re­la­tions with the neigh­bor­ing and re­gional coun­tries. This visit was done in the back­drop that Pak­istan is look­ing to re­vise and up­grade its re­la­tions with the neigh­bor­ing coun­tries in the wake of nd­ing new grounds for co­op­er­a­tion to tackle the en­ergy, eco­nomic and other do­mes­tic chal­lenges. Dur­ing the visit, Prime Min­is­ter also met with the Prime Min­is­ter of Azer­bai­jan Mr. Ar­tur Tahir Ra­sizade along with hav­ing bi­lat­eral talks with Pres­i­dent Il­ham Aliyev. Dur­ing the talks, ex­change of views on na­tional, in­ter­na­tional is­sues and ar­eas of mu­tual in­ter­est were given spe­cial at­ten­tion. It is agreed that Pak­istan and Azer­bai­jan will con­tinue their co­op­er­a­tion in hav­ing joint mil­i­tary train­ing and de­tailed co­op­er­a­tion in the mil­i­tary joint pro­duc­tion op­tions was also dis­cussed. This will prove as an­other step to­wards the new di­men­sion of re­la­tions. It was also agreed to trans­form the visa regime be­tween the states and make it eas­ier for en­hanced con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween both states. Dur­ing the visit, sev­eral im­por­tant con­sents were achieved in­clud­ing work­ing to­gether in the ar­eas of econ­omy, in­vest­ment, en­ergy, de­fense, agri­cul­ture and con­nec­tiv­ity.

Azer­bai­jan and Pak­istan, broth­erly Mus­lim coun­tries have unique com­mon­al­i­ties of his­tor­i­cal, reli­gious and po­lit­i­cal na­ture that are beyond the ge­o­graph­i­cal dis­tances and di­vi­sions. Pak­istan rec­og­nized in­de­pen­dence of Azer­bai­jan in 1991 (the sec­ond coun­try after Turkey) and later two coun­tries es­tab­lished diplo­matic re­la­tions in 1992. Pak­istan was one of the rst coun­tries to open its em­bassy in Baku, cap­i­tal of Azer­bai­jan. Ever since the rst visit of the then Pres­i­dent Fa­rooq Ahmed Khan La­gari to Azer­bai­jani cap­i­tal, Baku in 1995 and a re­cip­ro­cal visit of Azer­bai­jan's late Pres­i­dent Hey­dar Aliyev in April 1996 to Pak­istan, lots of ground has been cov­ered in terms of po­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic spheres. Both coun­tries have sup­ported each other in ev­ery in­ter­na­tional fo­rum. Pak­istan is the only coun­try in the world that has not yet rec­og­nized Ar­me­nia as a sov­er­eign state and till yet re­fuses to do so un­til the lib­er­a­tion of Azer­bai­jan's oc­cu­pied ter­ri­to­ries”. In the ges­ture of rec­i­proc­ity and as a broth­erly Mus­lim coun­try, Azer­bai­jan has still rm stance in re­gard to Kash­mir con­flict as once the found­ing fa­ther of Azer­bai­jan In Hey­dar Aliyev said , “Azer­bai­jan has al­ways, and in all the nec­es­sary lev­els, de­fended, and is de­fend­ing to­day, the just po­si­tion of Pak­istan on Kash­mir is­sue. e strongly con­demn and ex­press our ob­jec­tions to the vi­o­la­tion of hu­man rights in Kash­mir”. Dur­ing the visit of Prime Min­is­ter of Pak­istan, Pres­i­dent Il­ham Aliyev said that that the mat­ter should be re­solved through di­a­logue and peace­ful means in ac­cor­dance with the UN Se­cu­rity Coun­cil res­o­lu­tions”. Both states have pleaded their case on In­ter­na­tional Fo­rums and have sup­ported each other at ev­ery podium be that UN or any other. Pak­istan and the peo­ple of Pak­istan can well un­der­stand and feel the pain of Azer­bai­jani peo­ple and suf­fer­ings of peo­ple of Nagorno-Karabakh as we are fac­ing sim­i­lar blood­shed in Kash­mir since the time of our in­cep­tion in 1947.

hen Azer­bai­jan and Pak­istan were elected as non-per­ma­nent mem­bers of UN SC for 2012-13, both sup­port each others po­si­tion and can­di­dacy at the fo­rum and how­ever, this was the rst time for Azer­bai­jan while Pak­istan has re­mained on sev­eral oc­ca­sions as non-per­ma­nent mem­ber to UNSC. This cre­ated co­op­er­a­tion on sev­eral lev­els in­clud­ing Kash­mir and Nagorno-Karabakh. Over the course of time, Pak­istan and Azer­bai­jan have es­tab­lished rm ground for friendly and fra­ter­nal co­op­er­a­tion for years to come. Although the re­la­tion­ship are not pass­ing yet to the eco­nomic lit­mus test since they are not up to the mark as yet

but there ex­ists huge po­ten­tial be­tween the two. The two coun­tries also share com­mon views on ma­jor re­gional and in­ter­na­tional is­sues and co­op­er­ate closely in the re­gional and mul­ti­lat­eral fo­rums, in­clud­ing the UN, the OIC and the ECO. As equally im­por­tant de­vel­op­ment in the bi­lat­eral re­la­tions be­tween the two states was the recog­ni­tion of the mas­sacre in the Azer­bai­jani town of Kho­jaly by the Ar­me­ni­ans as geno­cide on Feb­ru­ary 1, 2012, by the Se­nate Com­mit­tee on For­eign Re­la­tions of Pak­istan. ith the po­lit­i­cal as­sess­ment to this tragedy Pak­istan be­came one of the three na­tions that rec­og­nized this event as geno­cide.

The re­cent ex­pan­sion in hav­ing an in­ter­est from both sides re­gard­ing im­prov­ing eco­nomic and de­fense co­op­er­a­tion is a wel­come de­vel­op­ment. Pak­istan has a di­versi ed eco­nomic base with huge mar­ket and at­trac­tive pack­ages for the in­vestors and im­porters. Re­cent im­prove­ment re­lated to build­ing ca­pac­ity of the con­nec­tiv­ity be­tween the coun­try and the rest of the re­gional mar­ket on the ad­vent of China-Pak­istan-Eco­nomic Cor­ri­dor - an epit­ome of pros­per­ity and re­gional con­nec­tiv­ity, is some­thing that Pak­istan can be done. Both sides are ea­gerly look­ing to­wards open­ing up and en­cour­ag­ing the busi­ness­men to part­ner with their coun­ter­parts in Baku. Although there is an is­sue of con­nec­tiv­ity, erce com­pe­ti­tion from re­gional and in­ter­na­tional eco­nomic play­ers, but due to the love and af­fec­tion cou­pled with will of the po­lit­i­cal lead­er­ship will cre­ate and build new av­enues of col­lab­o­ra­tion. To­tal trade turnover be­tween Pak­istan and Azer­bai­jan in 2011 stood at around US$3 mil­lion which is dis­pro­por­tion­ate with bi­lat­eral po­lit­i­cal ties. Govern­ments of Azer­bai­jan and Pak­istan are work­ing on to ex­plore new mar­kets to boost ex­ports and to cre­ate joint ven­tures be­tween the coun­ter­parts from both sides.

The re­la­tions are not only re­flected on the sev­eral high level vis­its but there are sev­eral joint groups has been es­tab­lished in­clud­ing par­lia­men­tary friend­ship group, joint eco­nomic com­mis­sion, joint in­ter-min­is­te­rial com­mis­sion and other groups are meant to en­hance part­ner­ship and cre­ate a base that lead to make the re­la­tions to level of peo­ple to peo­ple con­tacts. These groups meet on reg­u­lar ba­sis for the fol­low up of what can be done to im­prove the con­nec­tiv­ity and ac­tiv­i­ties for fur­ther en­hanced part­ner­ships. There are also sev­eral ed­u­ca­tional op­por­tu­ni­ties for stu­dents and fac­ulty mem­bers that have be­gun re­cently when few of the young ones joined the fac­ul­ties of ADA Univer­sity and other Uni­ver­si­ties of Azer­bai­jan. How­ever there is less ow of stu­dents from the coun­try to Pak­istan which can be im­proved with joint work­ing to­gether. As the good­will ex­ists on both sides, more such peo­ple to peo­ple con­tact op­por­tu­ni­ties may be cre­ated.

It is phe­nom­e­nal and im­por­tant to note that First lady of Azer­bai­jan, Pres­i­dent of Hey­dar Aliyev Foun­da­tion; Good­will Am­bas­sador of UNESCO and ISESCO, Mem­ber of Par­lia­ment, Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva is one of those who with an in uence is ca­pa­ble to cap­ture the hearts and minds of peo­ple. The as­so­ci­a­tion of Hey­dar Aliyev Foun­da­tion with Pak­istan started soon after the earth­quake of 2005, when Mehriban Aliyeva had taken an ini­tia­tive to con­struct a new mod­ern school for girls in place of de­stroyed one in Muzaf­farabad. The 500-pupil ca­pac­ity school, lo­cated in a moun­tain­ous area, was built by 2007. The foun­da­tion reg­u­larly sup­plies the school with all nec­es­sary means as well as pays monthly stipends to 5 de­serv­ing stu­dents of the school. It is no­table that after the com­plete re­con­struc­tion and ren­o­va­tion in 2012, the school was named after the First Lady of Azer­bai­jan. In 2012 and 2013, the First Lady of Azer­bai­jan ini­ti­ated a se­ries of health­care, ed­u­ca­tion and hu­man­i­tar­ian projects in all prov­inces of Pak­istan. ithin the plan of ac­tion, the hepati­tis B vac­ci­na­tion, check up and treat­ment were car­ried out in col­lab­o­ra­tion with Saif Foun­da­tion at Edhi Home, Ak­bar Care In­sti­tute for Cere­bral Palsy in Peshawar and Women's and Chil­dren Hospi­tal in Lakki Mar­wat. In 2013 an­other do­na­tion was made to Saif Foun­da­tion which was used by lat­ter in health­care sec­tor. It is re­mark­able that due to her ac­tiv­ity in Pak­istan Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva was con­ferred with Hial-I-Pak­istan Award by Pres­i­dent of Pak­istan dur­ing his his­toric visit to the coun­try. This was given to the First Lady for her great phil­an­thropic work in Pak­istan.

There is enor­mous scope of co­op­er­a­tion be­tween Pak­istan and Azer­bai­jan es­pe­cially after the vis­its of high­est level to the coun­tries and an­nounce­ments of the co­op­er­a­tion, trade and de­vel­op­ment strate­gies of both states. But to make things hap­pen, the need is to make all the bi­lat­eral agree­ments and in­sti­tu­tional ar­range­ments func­tional, if there are any. And if there are few agree­ments of co­op­er­a­tion be­tween the two, then there should be ini­tia­tive taken from both sides to do so in order to get the fruit and ben­e­fits out of these warm and cor­dial re­la­tions. At present Azer­bai­jan and Pak­istan have signed 32 doc­u­ments so far, with an­other 13 doc­u­ments are still pend­ing. The cur­rent moves of en­hanc­ing trade and es­pe­cially or­ga­niz­ing de­fense pro­duc­tion, co­op­er­a­tion and joint mil­i­tary ex­er­cises will be a booster for fur­ther ce­ment­ing the ties. Most im­por­tant thing is that there ex­ists the po­lit­i­cal will to move beyond the in­for­mal co­op­er­a­tion and reg­u­lar joint in­ter­ac­tion not only in de­fense and eco­nomic co­op­er­a­tion but im­proved peo­ple to peo­ple con­tacts also. Keep­ing in view the tra­jec­tory of re­la­tions be­tween the two, it is wished that the bi­lat­eral re­la­tions will con­tinue to our­ish in days and months to come for mu­tu­ally bene cial and stronger part­ner­ship.

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