The 15th meeting of the Turkey-Pakistan ‘High-Level Military Dialogue Group’ (HLMDG) was held in Ankara, Turkey from 22-23rd December 2020. The group is referred to as the biggest institutional setup between the two countries that has the mandate to make policies and plans of actions to enhance the defence ties between both countries. The key areas for military cooperation that have been discussed during the meeting hold immense significance in view of the enhanced cooperation between the two countries. These include mutual cooperation in; military training, education, counter-terrorism, and prospects of joint production and procurement in the defence industry.
Both the countries have openly supported each other on matters related to the prevalent regional security environment in the Middle East, South Asia, and Afghanistan. On the other hand, there have been widespread insinuations and hype in the Western countries and India that both Turkey and Pakistan are cooperating with each other on nuclear weapons. Specifically, Pakistan has been accused of sharing nuclear and missile technologies with Turkey.
Both the West and India are involved in disseminating news that the popular Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan desperately wants to have nuclear weapons capability. Based on such dynamics, analysts around the world would remain highly curious about the matter. Particularly, considering how the West and India have been propagating it in the larger part of the screenplay of sharing nuclear weapons capability. The recent meeting has nevertheless created considerable hype in both the Western and the Indian media. India has been spreading propaganda against the backdrop of the proliferation of nuclear weapons and missile technologies. In this regard, India has alleged Pakistan of agreeing to provide support and the recent meeting was in-line to discuss the technical aspects of the transfer of nuclear technology. This was all based on insinuations rather than any undeniable evidence. Though Pakistan’s delegation visited various Turkish defence companies and has met with the officials to discuss prospects of defence cooperation, this does not mean that the visit was intended to discuss the transfer of nuclear cooperation.
If we go back to history, in the ’70s and ‘80s when Pakistan was left with no choice but to develop a nuclear capability given the existential security threats from India. This quest was referred to as the ‘Islamic Bomb’ by both the West and India. The rationale behind this whole rhetoric was that nuclear capability which is to be acquired by Pakistan (an Islamic country) would ultimately be the weapon of the whole Islamic world as a shared asset. The propaganda went to an extent that the nuclear capability of Pakistan was termed as a ‘nuclear sword’ which would be used to wage ‘jihad’ against the west and India.
This whole conspiracy theory was further augmented in the pretexts of nuclear proliferation, globalization, and the resurgence of Islam. Such conspiracies were more inclined towards creating a fearful idea that would be applied to the nuclear policies of any Muslim state. In this regard, Pakistan’s nuclear capability that is purely defensive in principle was generalized as a much-hyped phenomenon that would encompass the whole Muslim world in between the South Asian region, Middle East, and North Africa. Ever since that, the term has been ironically used to create fear in the world by linking Islamic states, the militant groups, and all the proliferation networks in the world in just one frame.
In the same vein, since many terms have already been linked with the Islamic world, this specific Indo-West originated term of Islamic bomb now in the form of Turkey-Pakistan nuclear cooperation is more about the ‘Islam phobia’ that has spread across the globe rather than deliberating on how and why the nuclear technology has spread. Representing the same aggressive and jingoistic approach, both India and the West are involved in anti-Islam posturing. In fact, their recent attempt to build an international narrative against Pakistan and Turkey, there appears to be nothing new at all.
Inspired by such notions and in a typical fashion, the recent meeting of high military officials of Turkey and Pakistan Turkey is insinuated as ‘nuclear weapon cooperation’. No evidence would support this baseless allegation. How come a formal meeting between the delegates of both countries provides evidence of nuclear collaboration between them? At the same time, it has been reported that the meeting also involved discussion on cooperation in the field of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). As part of getting the benefit of their enhanced strategic ties, both countries have the right to cooperate in emergent defence technologies like the UAVs. This has nothing to do with the transfer of nuclear technology between the two countries. Linking all with this nuclear weapons proliferation would not justify the western and Indian propaganda. The Western and Indian thinkers just wasted a little time in blaming Pakistan for sharing nuclear weapons capability with Turkey. Furthermore, it appears to be in-line with the grave western and Indian agenda to sabotage the ever-increasing and enhanced strategic relations of both countries.
This further supports the discriminatory approach of the international nuclear non-proliferation regime as well which has given India a free hand for nuclear trade. The fact remains that the NSG was formed in response to the Indian so-called peaceful nuclear explosion of 1974 that paved the way for the nuclearization of the South Asian region later on. Since then, Pakistan has been accused of nuclear proliferation and the recent allegations of helping Turkey to develop its nuclear weapons are nothing new for Pakistan. Nonetheless, India remains the biggest proliferator of nuclear weapons in the region, while Pakistan’s nuclear capability is purely in response to the Indian threats.
Hence, it is quite apparent that the west and India are quite uncomfortable with the enhanced strategic ties of Turkey and Pakistan. Since both the countries are Islamic, being in an unbreakable bond, they have been cooperating with each other on matters of mutual interest over the years. Both the west and India have found nothing in it so unfortunately, they intend to blame both the countries for nuclear weapons proliferation. This is further evident from the deliberations in western and India as; if Turkey does not get nuclear weapons from Pakistan, at the least, it could learn from Pakistan how to acquire nuclear weapons. By such deliberations, it appears quite comprehensible that both the west and India are desperate to accuse Turkey and Pakistan of nuclear proliferation at any cost. In this regard, both countries need to remain vigilant of the widespread western and Indiana propaganda.
*The author currently works as a Research Associate at the Strategic Vision Institute (SVI) in Islamabad, Pakistan. He tweets @HarisMalik00