Safeer Hussain Shah
Prime Minister of Pakistan visited Republic of Azerbaijan in 2016. During his stay he met with H.E President Ilham Aliyev, Prime Minister and other high officials. Both countries intended to develop their relations in various spheres.
Azerbaijani President and the Pakistani PM discussed on the high-level political cooperation between the two countries. Recent reciprocal high official visits have totally transformed bilateral relations between the two countries. Now both countries for more connected because of greater socio-economic integration which has also further brightened the future prospects of foreign direct investments (FDIs), joint ventures (JVs) and energy cooperation. Both countries signed a joint declaration which depicted their resolve to enhance and diversify the already dynamic relations. Both countries showed satisfaction on political relations which now are steadily growing.
Ilham Aliyev thoroughly discussed matters of mutual interest and stressed the need to have a closer socio-economic integration, business dialogue and greater regional connectivity through effective forums. He also wished to have closer military cooperation in its diverse fields. Azeri President termed Pakistan as one of the closest friends of Azerbaijan. Both leaders emphasized the strategic significance of the cooperation between the two countries.
Both leaders agreed to develop their cooperation in economy and investments, boost their trade turnover, pay great attention to humanitarian issues and have a very broad and effective cooperation. Ilham Aliyev further said the two countries support each other on all international issues.
He noted that Azerbaijan always supports Pakistan in the issues related to Kashmir, and Pakistan, for its part, always supports Azerbaijan in the issues related to the settlement of the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. President Aliyev said the two countries stand side by side in all the international organizations. He noted that Nawaz Sharif’s visit gives a good opportunity to review the work done and to set the future plans.
Azerbaijan and Pakistan explored chances of further military cooperation. President Aliyev said Azerbaijan and Pakistan have a very good cooperation in the military sphere. Both leaders discussed the plans regarding the joint military drills of the two countries’ armed forces. The Azerbaijani president noted that Pakistan has a very developed defense industry, and that the sides have thoroughly discussed the cooperation in this sphere.
The President showed his country interest to buy the most modern and high-tech weapons from Pakistan. He said there is understanding between the parties on this issue. The president said he and Nawaz Sharif also mulled the cooperation in other sectors of the economy, particularly in agriculture and tourism. During a joint press briefing, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev also showed his willingness to sign a deal with Pakistan for buying defence equipment.
Ilham Aliyev hoped that once the electronic visa system is implemented in Azerbaijan, it will be very easy for the Pakistani citizens to come to Azerbaijan and the Azerbaijani citizens will enjoy the same opportunities in traveling to Pakistan.
The president further said the sides also had discussions on the opening joint pharmaceutical enterprises in Azerbaijan. Ilham Aliyev said this sphere is very developed in Pakistan, noting that Azerbaijan wants to develop this sphere too, as it is mainly dependent on imports.
The president said he and the Pakistani PM also discussed other issues of mutual interest and showed absolutely mutual understanding on all the issues between the sides. He said this once again shows that the relations between Azerbaijan and Pakistan are based on friendship and history. Historically the peoples of Azerbaijan and Pakistan had contacts, they worked together, said the president, adding that there are numerous marks of the Pakistani culture in Baku, he added.
Ilham Aliyev also said the current ties between the two countries are very important for regional security and cooperation. The president said he believes that transportation is one of the issues to be dealt with in the future by the two countries, as the new transportation projects implemented by Azerbaijan jointly with its neighbors will create new opportunities for transportations from Asia to Europe and from north to south, and will open new routes.
During his meeting with President of Azerbaijan, Primer of Pakistan believed that regional and global issues should be resolved through international law, peace and dialogue. He reaffirmed Pakistan’s commitments for peace and principles of development for the sake of peace. The prime minister supported early resolution of Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
Many issues, including regional and international ones, were discussed during the Pakistani delegation’s meetings he added.
“Mutual support between Azerbaijan and Pakistan on the Kashmir and Nagorno-Karabakh conflicts proves the close understanding between the two countries, said Nawaz Sharif”. He upheld that Pakistan has a clear position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
“Pakistan stands for the liberation of all the occupied Azerbaijani lands, the withdrawal of Armenian armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts, and the return of refugees and internally displaced persons to their motherlands, Prime Minister added”.
He also praised Azerbaijan’s support to Pakistan’s position on the Kashmir conflict, on its settlement through dialogue and peace in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions. He also expressed confidence that this mutual support will remain unchanged until the two conflicts are completely solved. The Prime Minister said the mutual support between Pakistan and Azerbaijan on the issues of Kashmir and Nagorno-Karabakh testified to the close understanding of common views.
“During the meetings, both the countries agreed to develop relations in the diverse fields of economy, investments, trade, energy, defense, agriculture, industry, science, culture and others related sub-sectors”.
Both leaders emphasized to increase trade volumes between the two countries and agreed to boost it. The two sides also agreed to continue their cooperation on international arena, within the UN, Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Economic Cooperation Organization.
Prime Minister of Pakistan said Azerbaijan has achieved remarkable progress in the last 25 years. He also said Azerbaijan’s development and success are a source of pride for all the Muslim countries and is an example for many developing countries.
Recent highest political dialogue and reciprocal high official meetings is reflective of total transformation to enhance and strengthen bilateral relations between both the countries. Both countries accord high priority to deepen historical and cultural bonds are committed to expand cooperative relations.
Since Azerbaijan and Pakistan have now decided to transform their relationship into a strategic partnership and agreed to promote bilateral cooperation in the areas of economy, energy, security, trade, tourism, transport, science & technology, environment, sports, culture and education, following suggestion are given for the further strengthening of bilateral relations:
(a) The Republic of Azerbaijan is the crossroads of Eastern Europe and Western Asia. Azerbaijan, also known as the “Land of Fire”, is a country with a fascinating history and unique cultural heritage which needs to be explored through FDIs and joint ventures in the preferred areas of energy, infrastructure, science & technology, education and the last but not the least, textiles etc.
(b) Azerbaijan is the gateway between East and West, sitting on the edge of Europe and Western Asia. Azerbaijan played an important role as part of the Silk Road and is now equally important as part of the Transport Corridor Europe-Caucasus-Asia (TRACECA) Project. The government of Pakistan must initiate steps to project the trans-continental strategic importance of China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) and tries to get connected.
(c) The cooperation between the two states extends to every sphere ranging from political, economic, technological, security to cultural arenas. Azerbaijan and Pakistan are enjoying good relations that describe them as “friendly and brotherly” countries which need to be widened and diversified in terms of bilateral trade volumes, economic ties and investments etc.
(d) The level of annual trade between the two countries in the last many years does not correspond with the level of existing mutual political and economic goodwill between the two nations in many products which must be further enhanced through rigorous commercial diplomacy, active role of chambers of commerce, preferential incentives of investments and doing business and above all joint ventures.
(e) Direct aviation link would accelerate socio-economic interaction and also enhance volumes of trade. Islamabad-Baku-Istanbul or Islamabad-Baku-London would be ideal connecting links for both the countries.
(f) Over 40 Memorandum of Understandings (MOU’s) have been signed but most of them have not been followed up. There is an urgent need to establish a “Follow-Up/Implementation Mechanism” between the two countries for the further strengthening of trade volumes.
(g) There is lack of proper communication and effective linkages between the local business communities of both the countries which need to be fostered and streamlined.
(h) There are a number of bright prospects of investment & trade opportunities enhancing effective economic linkages among the two countries but somehow, both countries fail to anticipate such initiatives. Furthermore, there is lack of awareness about the shining opportunities in both the Governments and business communities which must be limelight for the further strengthening of trade volumes.
(i) There is absence of joint Chamber of Commerce and Industry of both the countries which must be established as soon as possible.
(j) Keeping in view the market requirements, Azerbaijan’s consumer preferences, competitors’ strategies, and an integrated product focused approach is devised to enhance Pakistan market share in this Azerbaijan. Selection of product sectors of Pakistan has been made on the basis of competitive advantages, production base, global acceptability and market demand. At the first stage five product sectors including Textile especially Home Textiles, Leather, Food, Sports Goods and Surgical Instruments have been identified. So, all trade and investment promotion activities would be primarily focusing these sectors.
(k) In Azerbaijan, the policy making is being carried out and implemented with a triangular thought process of Academia, Innovation and the Government which should be pursued at highest level to promote trade and commerce activities.
(l) There is great scope and market for joint ventures in pharmaceutical industry, chemistry & mechanical engineering, metallurgy, food processing industry, light industry and other areas which must be tapped and widened which would provide win-win propositions for both the countries.
(m) There is great scope for education and cultural cooperation which must be pursued as soon as possible.
(n) Both countries share strong politico-military ties. Now, there is an urgent need to further strengthen military cooperation beyond the already customary military personnel trainings, ad hoc common military exercises and mutual visits and discussions. Annual regular meetings between Working Groups on military should now lead to a combined military and defence cooperation committee of equal participation to deal with all aspects of the security sectors‟ cooperation; and be able to implement strategic provisions of the proposed bilateral military cooperation agreement.
(o) Moreover, a series of regular military exercises between the two countries should be conducted which could be extended to include land, air and naval forces, as well as air defence and strategic planning. Both countries should consider enlarging the scale of mutual exchange of military personnel for training and military education.
Most recently Business-to-Business and People-to-People meetings of both the countries have been arranged which have opened unlimited new opportunities and prospects of which are very bright.
Pakistan and Azerbaijan had cultural, social, religious and above all civilizational ties through famous Silk Route in the past. Caravans from both regions used this route extensively for trading purpose. Pakistani student are also taking education in Azeri institutions. These bonds will be further strengthened after the recent visit of Pakistan’s president Mamnoon Hussain.
Now Pakistan and Azerbaijan have decided to turn their relationship into a strategic partnership and agreed to promote bilateral cooperation in the areas of economy, energy, security, trade, tourism, transport, science & technology, environment, sports, culture and education.
Bilateral relations between Pakistan and Azerbaijan are constantly on the move adding trade and economic ties have already been given new dimensions. Exchange of visits of Azerbaijan and Pakistani leaders as well as the other high level delegations played a pivotal role in cementing the links between the countries and people alike. Agreements in political, economic, strategic, social, humanitarian, cultural and other sectors signed during these visits formed a solid legislative base.