The cooperation and alliance-making have always been the core principle of state’s strategies. The states converge and diverge according to their benefits and rivalry. The cooperation between Pakistan and Turkey goes back to history, and both have stood by each other out of the spirit of brotherhood. Muhammad Ali Jinnah and Mustafa Kamal Ataturk also shared joint views on the intersection of Islam and promotion of Muslim brotherhood. Today, both the countries have always been at each other’s forefront in times of conflict and crisis, and have supported each other at international level. The relationship between Pakistan and Turkey has increased immensely under the leadership of PM Imran Khan.
Turkey has always stood by Pakistan in all the chief events in history, from standing by Pakistan against Indian violence in Kashmir, and raising voice at United Nation General Assembly, to supporting in the financial issues and FATF. Turkey has always been the key ally of Pakistan in whatsoever the situation befalls. Pakistan, on the other hand also stood by Turkey in its conflicts with the neighboring countries, and has always extended full support to Turkey.
The two countries are close at cultural and public level as well, and admire each other people and culture to a greater extent. The cooperation between the two states further goes on to the economic and strategic level as well. Both the countries have done many Joint Ventures, in order to promote economic and strategic cooperation, for enhancing stability in the region. The establishment of Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD), the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) for boosting the economic ties between the two states; the two countries have also signed Strategic Economic Framework in February 2021, which entails a broad spectrum of science and technology, education, tourism, health and defence. The Pakistan-Turkey Free Trade Agreement is also in the pipeline. Furthermore, Pakistan –Turkey Military Consultative Group (MCG), the Turco-Pak Treaty are indications of strong military alliance between Turkey and Pakistan. This was further enhanced when President Erdogan came into power. The Pakistan-Turkey High Level Military Dialogue (HLMD) was developed between the two states in December 2020, aimed at promoting defence ties between the two countries. It opened a new era of joint defence production, training and cooperation between the two states.
The two states have also conducted Joint Military exercises as well, entailing “Ataturk-XI”, conducted earlier this year with Turkey, with the primary focus on counter-terrorism operations; the naval exercise “Aman 2021” which was conducted with 45 countries including Turkey, for enhancing military skills; the “Anatolian-Eagle 2021” with the aim to enhance the interoperability between the participating forces, was conducted in Turkey, in which the Air forces of other countries also joined, and helped in enhancing the true potential of one’s military aircrafts.
The MILGEM-class corvette, named PNS Babur, is the first corvette ship built by Turkey for Pakistan. It was launched from a shipyard in Istanbul and the ceremony was attended by President of Pakistan, Dr. Arif Alvi as well. It will boost Pakistan’s capabilities in maintaining peace in the Indian Ocean. It will be delivered in 2023, whereas three more vessels will be handed over in 2025, out of which two will be manufactured in Pakistan, in a deal that inculcates the technology transfer. Moreover, the Turkish Aerospace Industry has also inked a contract with Pakistan’s National Engineering and Science Commission (NESCOM) to produce the components of TAI’s Anka Medium-Altitude Long Endurance (MALE) combat drone. The Anka MALE UAV system can stay up in the air for almost 24 hrs, and can carry a payload of 550 pounds. It can perform in all weather, day and night ISR Missions, communication relays and tracking of fixed and stationary targets, signals intelligence (SIGINT). Such Joint Ventures boost the defence and economic ties between the two countries.
The cooperation in defence industry is evident in the trade relations between the two states. Pakistan plays a pivotal role in enhancing peace and stability in South Asia, Turkey in this regard is endeavors to assist Pakistan in order to overcome the hurdles in achieving peace. Recognizing the defence and economic needs are essential in achieving the national foreign policy agenda. The alliance making and cooperation with regional allies, like Turkey, will boost Pakistan’s economy and international standing as well. Pakistan, considering the neighborhood, has to focus on the defence spending through defence trade ties, for boosting the state and regional security. The shifting global alliances and the continuous changing global geo-political order, the strong strategic-economic cooperation between Turkey and Pakistan add up in each other’s errand.
*Amber Afreen Abid, Research Associate, Strategic Vision Institute (SVI), Islamabad.