Azerbaijan-Pakistan ties: 30 years on the path of strategic partnership
By Vugar Khalilov
In 2022, Azerbaijan marks the 30th anniversary of establishing diplomatic relations with the subjects of international relations - both individual states and international organizations.
Azernews - the nation's first English language newspaper - launched a new project, designed to cover the major aspects of the 30-year-long diplomatic ties between Azerbaijan and individual states.
On June 9, Pakistan and Azerbaijan marked the 30th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations. There is a special political bond between Pakistan and Azerbaijan that transcends their geographical distance. It opens the door for collaboration in a number of fields, notably those related to business and the military.
Since Azerbaijan's independence, various events have been held to discuss how to boost multifaceted cooperation, as well as trade between Azerbaijan and Pakistan. The two fraternal nations enjoy strategic partnership relations.
Over the 30-year-long period of diplomatic relations, the two countries have been able to build strong ties based on partnership in the economic, cultural, and educational spheres. For the convenience of our readers, we are trying to shed light on specific aspects of the relations in a Q&A format.
Q: When did Azerbaijan and Pakistan establish diplomatic relations?
A: Pakistan was one of the first countries to recognize the independence of the Republic of Azerbaijan on December 12, 1991. Diplomatic relations between the two countries were established on June 9, 1992. The Pakistani embassy in Baku was established on March 12, 1993, and the Azerbaijani Embassy in Islamabad on August 24, 1997.
Q: What are the common points between the two states regarding the territorial integrity issue?
A: Pakistan supports the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan within its internationally recognized borders and has always condemned the Armenian aggression. Pakistan has not established diplomatic ties with Armenia due to its occupation policy against Azerbaijan and has not formally recognized it. In 2012, the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the Senate of Pakistan, and in 2017, the Committee on Foreign Affairs of the National Assembly adopted resolutions recognizing the Khojaly genocide and condemning the Armenian aggression against Azerbaijan.
Moreover, Pakistan supported Azerbaijan during the 44-day war with Armenia in 2020, which ended with the liberation of Azerbaijani territories from the 30-year-long occupation. The Pakistani National Assembly unanimously approved a resolution in October 2020 denouncing the Armenian attack on Azerbaijan. Expressing solidarity with the nation, the Pakistani Senate's Standing Committee on the Cabinet Secretariat also unanimously approved a resolution denouncing Armenia's actions against Azerbaijan.
According to an agreement reached between the Pakistani and Azerbaijani governments, Islamabad supports Baku in the Karabakh conflict in exchange for Baku's aid in the Kashmir issue. Azerbaijan had been a consistent advocate for the rights of the Kashmiri people as a member of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) Contact Group on Jammu and Kashmir.
Q: What do we know about the two nations' bilateral political ties and cooperation?
A: Azerbaijan places a high value on its relations with Pakistan and is eager to deepen them in all spheres.
On February 28 - March 1, 2017, Azerbaijani President Ilham Aliyev paid a visit to Pakistan to attend the 13th Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization.
On October 25-26, 2019, Pakistani President Arif Alvi visited Azerbaijan within the framework of the 18th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement.
On November 30 December 1, 2017, Pakistani Foreign Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif visited Azerbaijan within the framework of the 1st Tripartite Meeting of Azerbaijani-Pakistani-Turkish Foreign Ministers and the 7th Ministerial Meeting of the Heart of Asia-Istanbul Process.
On 13-14 January 2021, Azerbaijani Foreign Minister Jeyhun Bayramov paid an official visit to Pakistan to attend the 2nd Tripartite Meeting of the Foreign Ministers of Azerbaijan-Pakistan-Türkiye.
The Working Group for the Azerbaijani-Pakistani Inter-Parliamentary Relations, led by MP Ganira Pashayeva, operates in the Azerbaijani parliament.
The Pakistani-Azerbaijani Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group under Assad Geyser operates in the Pakistani National Assembly. Moreover, Muhammad Talha Mahmood is the head of the Pakistani-Azerbaijani Inter-Parliamentary Friendship Group in the Senate.
In total, thirty-six documents were signed between Azerbaijan and Pakistan.
What is the level of military cooperation between the two nations?
A: The two nations’ top brass conduct regular meetings to discuss the prospects of future military cooperation.
During the 44-day war with Armenia in 2020, Pakistan was among the first countries to voice political support for Azerbaijan. Pakistan also supports Azerbaijan in the restoration of the country's liberated territories.
In September 2021, the Azerbaijani, Turkish and Pakistani special forces conducted joint international drills in Baku, codenamed Three Brothers - 2021. Under the drills plan, the special forces units carried out practical shootings, using small arms and grenade launchers, the report added.
Furthermore, the parliaments of Azerbaijan, Turkey, and Pakistan signed the Baku Declaration on cooperation. The document was signed following the trilateral meeting held by speakers of the three countries’ parliaments on July 27, 2021.
Azerbaijan and Pakistan signed a memorandum of understanding on military cooperation during the fifth meeting of the relevant working group in Islamabad in 2014. Over a hundred Azerbaijani military officers have been trained in the past ten years by Pakistani military professionals.
Pakistan and Azerbaijan are negotiating over the sale of JF-17 Thunder multirole fighter jets. Plans to conduct joint military drills were confirmed by President Aliyev and PM Sharif in October 2016. Azerbaijan is interested in buying Pakistani Super Mushak trainer planes.
Q: What type of economic ties do the two countries have?
A: Azerbaijan and Pakistan cooperate in various sectors of the economy. The two nations signed a treaty on the creation of a joint commission at the state level in the fall of 1995, as well as an agreement on cooperation in trade and economy. Every two years, the commission holds its meetings in the capital cities of both nations. The National Bank of Pakistan opened a branch in Baku in 2005.
The trade turnover between the two countries totaled $11.7 million in 2021. However, based on newly-inked agreements, both nations want to grow this number even further over the course of years to come. Pakistan, as an oil importing country, considers Azerbaijan an important trade partner due to its huge energy capacity (oil and gas). A special working group on the growth of bilateral investment cooperation has been created between Pakistani trade and Azerbaijan's economy ministries to achieve additional growth in trade.
Under the bilateral agreement between the energy ministries of both countries (dated February 2017), Azerbaijan exports a number of oil and gas products, including furnace oil, petrol, diesel, and liquefied natural gas (LNG) to Pakistan. On June 20, 2016, Pakistan inked a deal to import energy, crude and refined oil products, and liquefied petroleum gas (LPG) from Azerbaijan.
Q: What is the extent of cultural cooperation between the two countries?
A: The Azerbaijan-Pakistan relations are also growing in the cultural and religious spheres. There is a particular division of the language department devoted to the study of Urdu at Baku State University.
The Joint Declaration on the Twinning of the Cities of Ganja, Azerbaijan, and Multan, Pakistan, was approved in the spring of 1996. The book "On the works of the prominent Azerbaijani thinker Jalil Mammadguluzada" was published in Islamabad in 2004 in two languages, English and Urdu.
The Heydar Aliyev Foundation spearheaded the building of a new secondary school in the rural community of Rara in the city of Muzaffarabad in February 2008. The Foundation also provided funding for the development of a brand-new building for the Khyber Eye Foundation's medical facility in Peshawar.
Recently, the Azerbaijani government allocated $2 million to Pakistan to cope with the dire consequences of the catastrophic floods, which led to numerous casualties and large-scale destruction in Pakistan.
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