Strategic partners-Pakistan and Azerbaijan

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RzaTalibov

Our country’s important partnership with Pakistan is based on mutual trust and fruitful cooperation.

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan, one of the largest countries in South Asia, is the sixth most populous country in the world and the second most populous Muslim country after Indonesia.

With an area of 803,940 square kilometers, Pakistan is one of the largest countries in South Asia, bordering the Arabian Sea in the south, Afghanistan and Iran in the west, India in the east and China in the northeast.

In international system, Pakistan successfully continues to operate as a member of the United Nations, the World Trade Organization, the Shanghai Cooperation Organization, as an active member of the G-33, Group-77 of developing countries.

Pakistan’s political history dates back to 1947, when Britain formally divided India into two parts and Pakistan gained independence.Today, the length of the border between India and Pakistan reaches 2912 km.The only crossing point between the two countries is the village of Wagah, whose eastern part is situated in India and western part in Pakistan.With the division of Kashmir into two, a territorial dispute has arisen between Pakistan and India.

The Islamic factor has a special status in Pakistan.Researchers consider Islam to be a key element of the cultural identity of the Pakistani people.Islam not only influenced Pakistan’s relations with India, but also played a leading role in shaping the country’s foreign policy.Pakistan’s current position in the international system is also linked to this ideology.

In general, the numerous military conflicts and the internationalization of the Kashmir issue have become history with several resolutions (1948, 1949) left on the UN table.Although these resolutions favored the free choice of the people of Kashmir, the claims of the parties further complicated the solution of the problem.Most countries preferred to approach to the conflict between Pakistan and India from their own political context. For example, the USSR considered Kashmir an Indian territory from the first years of the conflict and declared it “occupied”, while the United States mainly defended UN resolutions and Pakistan.In this sense, Pakistan’s international relations are determined by the attitude of the world community to the Kashmir conflict, and the country’s position in international relations is based on the principle of “my enemy’s friend cannot be my friend.”

Work is underway in order to build mutual trust between Pakistan and India.As an example,step in this direction the visit of Pakistan’s President Asif Ali Zardari to India on April 8, 2012may be mentioned.In response, Indian Foreign Minister S.M. Krishna visited Pakistan on September 7, 2012.The issue of visa facilitation was one of the main topics during the meeting.On October 20, 2013, Pakistani Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif proposed that the United States can act as a mediator in the Kashmir issue, but the Indian side strongly condemned the proposal.

It should be noted that the Islamic Republic of Pakistan is also known around the world as a country carrying out peacekeeping military missions.At present, Pakistan’s peacekeeping forces continue to carry out UN-defined military services in a number of countries in Europe, Asia and Africa.Overall, more than 13 percent of the world’s peacekeeping forces belong to the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.

Pakistan’s main partners in international relations are the United States, China, Saudi Arabia, Turkey and Afghanistan.The Islamic Republic of Pakistan continues to co-operate in close relations with Turkic-speaking countries.Relations between the Republic of Turkey and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan continue to expand in almost all areas. Among the post-Soviet countries, Pakistan is improving and strengthening its relations with Azerbaijan, Uzbekistan and Turkmenistan. Pakistan’s consistent support extended to the Republic of Turkey and the newly established Turkic states plays an important role in the year-by-year expansion of relations between this Asian country and the Republic of Azerbaijan.Pakistan does not officially recognize Armenia’s independence.This country unequivocally explains this stance by its support to Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity. Moreover, Pakistani officials state that they do not recognize the so-called “Armenian genocide.”

The Islamic Republic of Pakistan is one of the first countries to recognize the state independence of Azerbaijan.Thus, on December 12, 1991, Pakistan officially recognized the state independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan.This great Asian state made a decision to establish diplomatic relations with Azerbaijan on June 9, 1992, and opened its embassy in Baku on March 12, 1993. However, the history of Pakistan’s friendly and cooperative relations with Azerbaijan dates back to earlier times.Thus, the people of Pakistan have never forgotten that at a time when the plague was widespread in their country in the early twentieth century, a prominent Azerbaijani philanthropist Haji ZeynalabdinTagiyev received 300,000 ampoules of vaccines from Europe and sent them to help his Muslim brothers.

In general, the establishment of relations between Azerbaijan and Pakistan has become more intensive since the 60s of the 20th century.Ahmad Fana, a prominent Pakistani writer and winner of the International Lenin Prize, took part in the celebrations of the 150th anniversary of Mirza FataliAkhundzadeh in October 1962.In the same year, during a visit to the USSR, a group of Pakistani state officials led by the Speaker of the Pakistan’s National Assembly FazlullahQadar Chaudhry visited Azerbaijan and got acquainted with the life of the country’s people. The visit of the prominent Pakistani playwright, director and cinematographer Henry Chayase to Baku in April 1965 was received with great respect and esteem by the Azerbaijani film community.Prominent public figure Mirza Abel Hasan Ispahan’s book named “From Leningrad to Samarkand” at that time expressed his positive impressions about Azerbaijan as well.

At that time, a branch of the Soviet-Pakistani Cultural Relations Society was established in Baku to regulate Pakistan-Azerbaijan relations.In August 1967, a group of representatives of the East Pakistan Legislative Assembly, led by JamiruddinProdkhan, also got acquainted with the activities of cultural centers in Baku and Sumgayit cities.The organization of visits of Azerbaijani scientists, educators and artists to Pakistan also played an important role in the development of cultural relations. In those years, well-known figures of science and culture of Azerbaijan AshigPanahPanahov, head of the department of Azerbaijan State University, doctor of philological sciences, professorFarhadZeynalov visited Karachi.However, political differences between Pakistan and the USSR in the following years also damaged its relations with Azerbaijan.

A new stage in Azerbaijan-Pakistan relations began with the collapse of the USSR.As one of the first countries to recognize the sovereignty of Azerbaijan, Pakistan in 1992 tried to rebuild political, economic and cultural relations with our country in accordance with the new historical conditions.At a time when Azerbaijan was living in a difficult war situation over Karabakh, the calls of Pakistani officials on the world community, in influential organizations such as the UN and the OIC, to recognize Armenia as an aggressor country were very important. It is no coincidence that Pakistan was actively involved in the adoption of UN Security Council Resolution No. 822 on April 30, 1993, which called for the immediate withdrawal of Armenian forces from Azerbaijani territories and recognized this country as an aggressor state.Pakistan’s chairmanship of the meeting played a major role in the adoption of the resolution.

Since the first years of our state independence, National Leader Heydar Aliyev attached great importance to Pakistan-Azerbaijan relations.Evaluating the relations between the two countries, prominent statesman Heydar Aliyev described these relations as follows: “Pakistan and Azerbaijan enjoy very good and friendly relations.These relations are based on our past historical traditions.”

After the meeting of the National Leader of the Azerbaijani people Heydar Aliyev with the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, late Benazir Bhutto in Casablanca in December 1994, bilateral relations between the two countries started to improve at a higher level.In October 1995, President of Pakistan Farooq Ahmad Khan Legari paid an official visit to Azerbaijan. During the visit, the parties signed an “Agreement on cooperation in science, culture and humanitarian spheres”.In 1996, during the visit of National Leader Heydar Aliyev to Pakistan, the two countries signed memorandums of understanding on Friendship and Cooperation, as well as on Tourism Development.This brought Pakistanis and Azerbaijanis closer to each other.

In recent years, new achievements have been made for cooperation in the fields of science and education.Thus, the Pakistani side proposed to the Azerbaijani government to benefit from its rich experience in the fields of military education, information technology and telecommunications, and practical measures have already been taken in this regard. At the VII Summit of OIC countries which was held in Casablanca in 1994, National Leader Heydar Aliyev expressed his gratitude to Pakistan for its material, moral and political support extended to the people of Azerbaijan in difficult times.On October 14, 2002, at the VII Summit of the ECO Member States which was held in Istanbul, prominent statesman Heydar Aliyev again had a meeting with President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf and took steps to further strengthen cooperation.

The intensive nature of relations between Pakistan and Azerbaijan is one of the priorities in the foreign policy of President IlhamAliyev as well.On July 8-10, 2004, President of Pakistan Pervez Musharraf paid an official visit to Baku.Following this, IlhamAliyev paid an official visit to Pakistan on April 12, 2005 at the invitation of President Pervez Musharraf.Experts observe that this visit has opened wide range of opportunities for further development of multilateral relations between the two friendly countries. Thus, during the visit, the heads of state of the friendly countries stated the existence of opportunities for the development of cooperation in the areas of communications and information technologies, culture, finance, education, transport, aviation and others, and signed the necessary documents. Moreover, during the visit, the possibilities of the assistance by the Defence Export Promotion Organization, which is under the Ministry of Defense of Pakistan, to Azerbaijan were discussed. During the visit, a number of important documents on military cooperation between the two countries were signed in Islamabad with the participation of the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan IlhamAliyev and the Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Shovkat Aziz.Furthermore, in December 2005, a delegation of the MilliMajlis (Parliament) of the Republic of Azerbaijan paid an official visit to Islamabad and held official meetings in the Senate of Pakistan and in the country’s universities.Academician Isa Habibbayli’s books about JalilMammadguluzadeh, which were published in Urdu in Pakistan, were also discussed at the Art Museum in Islamabad.

On May 5, 2006, President of the Republic of Azerbaijan IlhamAliyev had a meeting with Prime Minister of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Shovkat Aziz. During the meeting matters of economic, scientific, technological, regional cooperation, as well asthe importance of Azerbaijan’s experience in the oil and gas sector for Pakistan werewidely discussed.

Another significant event in 2006 was the visit of a delegation led by the Chairman of the Standing Committee on Human Rights of the Senate of Pakistan, Senator Seyed Muhammad Zafar.On May 6, Senator Seyed Muhammad Zafar presented the “Best Governed Muslim State” award to the President of the Republic of Azerbaijan IlhamAliyev.

The meeting between President IlhamAliyev and President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Asif Ali Zardari in Baku, in 2012, further expanded relations between the two countries.At the meeting, the Presidents expressed confidence that the XII Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization, which was being held in Baku, will further contribute to the development of cooperation among the countries of the region, as well as emphasizing good prospects for further expansion of bilateral relations and the need for joint action in this regard.

President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Mamnoon Hussain paid an official visit to Azerbaijan on March 11-14, 2015.During the visit, he was awarded the title of Honorary Doctor of Baku State University.

Pakistan is one of Azerbaijan’s main military-strategic partners.Thus, on January 18, 2018, the 8th meeting of Azerbaijan-Pakistan working group between the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Joint Staff of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan was held in Baku.The current state and prospects of military cooperation, security in the region, strengthening relations and ties between the armies of the two countries, as well as holding joint exercises in 2018 were discussed at the meeting, and a relevant protocol was signed.

Representatives of Pakistan also took part in the 3rd Azerbaijan International Defense Exhibition “ADEX-2018”, which was held in Baku, on September 25-27, 2018.

During these years, close inter-parliamentary relations have also been established between Pakistan and Azerbaijan.On February 11-12, 2013, a delegation of the MilliMajlis of the Republic of Azerbaijan paid a working visit to Pakistan, during which a working group on Azerbaijan-Pakistan inter-parliamentary relations was formed. On February 1, 2012, the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Senate of Pakistan recognized the events happened in Khojaly city of the Republic of Azerbaijan as genocide. In the adopted document, the Senate reaffirmed the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan and declared recognition of its internationally recognized borders.The next resolution on the Khojaly genocide was adopted on February 2, 2017, at the 32nd meeting of the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs of the National Assembly of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan.In general, 30 official documents have been signed between the Republic of Azerbaijan and the Islamic Republic of Pakistan so far.

In the thirty-year history of mutual relations, extensive cultural ties have been established between Pakistan and Azerbaijan.The interest of the representatives of Pakistan’s scientific and educational community, as well as literature and media circles in Azerbaijan remains strong.On September 20, 2018, at the meeting of JeyhunBayramov with the Chairman of the Senate of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Muhammad SadiqSanjari, the current state of relations in the field of education and future prospects for development were discussed. At present, the functioning of the Urdu language department at Baku State University is of great importance.The agreements signed between Nakhchivan State University and Quaid-e-Azam University and the National University of Modern Languages of Pakistan in 2012, the visit of representatives of these universities to Nakhchivanare considered as important pages of cooperation in the field of education.

With the initiative and support of the Heydar Aliyev Foundation, a modern school was built and put into operation in Rara settlement of Muzaffarabad, Pakistan.

Pakistani literature is studied and researched at the Department of Azerbaijani-Asian Literary Relations of the Institute of Literature, named after NizamiGanjavi, of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences. In 2017-2018, the head of the department of Azerbaijani-Asian literary relations, doctor of philological sciences, professor BadirkhanAhmadov and researcher of the same department, doctor of philological sciences BasiraAzizaliyeva visited Pakistan several times and delivered lectures at conferences organized in different universities of this country. It should be noted that BasiraAzizaliyeva’s articles on Pakistani literature have been published in a number of journals and newspapers in Azerbaijan, Turkey and Pakistan.She is the author of a monograph about the national poet of Pakistan, Muhammad Iqbal.Researchers of Pakistan Institute of Islamic Studies have also delivered lectures at the conference dedicated to the great Azerbaijani poet ImadeddinNasimi, held at the Institute of Literature named after NizamiGanjavi.In addition, research on mutual literary and cultural relations conducted by Pakistan Research Center established at the NizamiGanjavi Institute of Literature continues.

Cooperation between the two countries in the field of sciences is also expanding.Thus, on September 19, 2018, experts of the International Atomic Energy Agency, researchers of the “Nuclear Institute for Agriculture and Biology” of the Atomic Energy Committee of Pakistan, Dr. Khalid Mahmoud and Dr. SajjadHaydar visited the Institute of Radiation Problems of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences. The experts delivered lectures, provided information about the research areas of the Nuclear Institute and the projects implemented there, as well as issues of mutual cooperation were discussed during the visit.

On April 10, 1996, a joint declaration on the establishment of sister city relations was signed between Ganja and Multan cities.

Pakistani society is sensitive to the historical and political events taking place in Azerbaijan.One of the obvious examples of mutual interest was the seminar held on “National Leader of the Azerbaijani people Heydar Aliyev and Azerbaijan-Pakistan relations” and the establishment of Heydar Aliyev’s corner in the National Library of Pakistan in 2013, as part of a series of events dedicated to the 90th anniversary of prominent statesman Heydar Aliyev.Speaking at the event, Director of Quaid-e-Azam University for Politics and International Relations, Professor LubnaAbid Ali talked about Heydar Aliyev’s contribution to the improvement of Pakistan-Azerbaijan relations.

At present, Azerbaijan-Pakistan relations have entered into a new stage.It should be particularly noted that during the Second Karabakh– Patriotic War, Pakistan provided full political and resolute moral support to the just positionof our country.This year, the trilateral meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan, Turkey and Pakistan held in Islamabad, on January 14, 2021 opened up wider opportunities for further improvement of multifaceted cooperation in regional and international fields. The meeting of the Minister of Foreign Affairs of the Republic of Azerbaijan JeyhunBayramov with the President of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan ArifAlvi and the new agreement signed by the Foreign Ministers on mutual cooperation created conditions for the further expansion of bilateral relations. Moreover, the words of the Chief of Army Staff of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan, General QamarJavedBajwa stating “Pakistan has always stood by Azerbaijan and supported its rightful position” is an important indicator of trust between the two countries.

Thus, the great contribution of Pakistan, one of Azerbaijan’s most loyal partners and friends, to the improvement of relations with Azerbaijan in political, military and economic spheres deserves to be consideredas a real example in terms of inter-state relations at the international level.

Today, Pakistan, as one of the main partners of Azerbaijan on the Asian continent, makes a great contribution to the eastern partnership of our country.

RzaTalibov is Doctor of Philosophy in Political Science