By Seymur Mammadov
Last week, on Thursday, December 5, a meeting was held between the Minister of Defense of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Colonel General Zakir Hasanov and the Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan Saeed Khan Mohmand, who is completing his diplomatic mission in our country.
In fairness, it is worth noting that Ambassador Saeed Khan Mohmand made great efforts to further strengthen the Azerbaijani-Pakistani relations, which in turn affected not only the development of military-technical cooperation, but also the development of bilateral tourism ties. As a result, the number of tourists from Pakistan to Azerbaijan is growing rapidly. Probably many will agree, if there was a direct flight between Baku and Islamabad, then the tourism of our countries would develop in a completely different way. It is important to note that the Pakistani ambassador has always supported Azerbaijan at the international level, especially supported the fair position of official Baku on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict.
So what does the meeting between the Pakistani ambassador and the Minister of Defense of Azerbaijan testify to? This meeting at the final stage of Saeed Khan Mohmand’s diplomatic mission in Baku shows how important the sides attach to military cooperation between the two countries, that official Baku is interested in building up military ties with Islamabad in the future. Military cooperation with Pakistan is an irreversible process. The meeting of the Minister of Defense with the Ambassador, who is completing his diplomatic mission, is a rather rare occurrence in diplomacy.
There is no doubt that bilateral relations will only develop rapidly in almost all areas. A strong bilateral relationship is based on a number of factors.
First, both countries share common cultural values. Secondly, the Azerbaijani millionaire and philanthropist Haji Zeynalabdin Tagiyev saved hundreds of thousands of Pakistanis from death. At his own expense, he bought a huge batch of vaccine in Europe and sent it to the Pakistani people. This factor played a major role in the victory over the plague in Pakistan.
Thirdly, Pakistan fully supports the territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, stating that Nagorno-Karabakh is an integral and integral part of Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan, in turn, supports the settlement of the issue of Jammu and Kashmir in accordance with the norms and principles of international law and the requirements of relevant UN Security Council resolutions. This is a sign of respect, an example of fraternity between our countries.
Fourth, the Turkish factor also plays a role in bringing together the interests of Pakistan and Azerbaijan. Today, Turkey, Pakistan and Azerbaijan support each other in international arenas, which is an important factor in further strengthening trilateral relations.
Other factors can be listed, but now the most important thing is to develop a new roadmap for the development of bilateral relations for 2020. And it is necessary to start, in my opinion, with the opening of a direct flight – Baku-Islamabad. I would like to believe that this issue will be resolved in the New Year. The geographical remoteness of our countries should not restrain the further development of the two fraternal countries.
Today we are seeing a noticeable increase in bilateral trade, which for a long time was at the level of 8-10 million dollars. But over the past two years, trade between Azerbaijan and Pakistan has reached $ 32 million. We must admit that this is far from a big figure, since the great potential between our two has not yet been fully realized. This applies to such areas as tourism, trade, transport and logistics, oil and agriculture.
It seems to me that official Baku, the main emphasis in Azerbaijani-Pakistani relations, will do on the further development of military-technical cooperation. Azerbaijan is pushing the Karabakh factor for military cooperation with Pakistan. Azerbaijan and Pakistan have faced extreme security challenges since independence. Azerbaijan has a territorial conflict with neighboring Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh, and Pakistan has a conflict with India over Kashmir. Strengthening military cooperation in the interests of both states.
The military cooperation of Pakistan and Azerbaijan, enshrined in the relevant agreement, provides for joint military exercises. Under this agreement, the Azerbaijani naval forces took part in the multinational naval exercises AMAN-2013 in the Arabian Sea held in Pakistan. Azerbaijan is interested in buying Pakistani JF-17 fighter-bombers. Currently, the SU-25, MiG-21 and MiG-29 are in service with Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan also acquired ten Super Mushak training aircraft from Pakistan.
Azerbaijan has always attached great importance to military cooperation with Pakistan. In fairness, it is worth noting that the Pakistani army is one of the largest in Asia. The Armed Forces of Pakistan in number occupy 7th place in the world. The number of military personnel exceeds 650 thousand people. In addition, Pakistan’s military engineers have made significant strides in rocket science over the past few years.
Today, Pakistan’s rocket science brings the country closer to world leaders in nuclear weapons. A parallel build-up of the arsenal of India and Pakistan resembles the situation of the Cold War between the USSR and the USA in the last century. Pakistan is building up its military capabilities for protection, which is a natural and expected process. Therefore, Azerbaijan was lucky to have such a strong friend, a brother, who during the four-day Karabakh war in April 2016 expressed his readiness to send his army to help Azerbaijan.