Pak-Azerbaijan scale up ties


THREE-day visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to brotherly country Azerbaijan proved to be highly productive as leadership of the two countries agreed upon a number of proposals to scale up their ties to the mutual advantage. In a significant development, Pakistan and Azerbaijan decided to go for joint defence production and undertake joint military training, which will surely go a long way in fulfilling defence hardware needs of the two countries.
Pakistan was the third country after Turkey and Romania to have recognized Azerbaijan after its independence from the former Soviet Union in 1991. A good beginning was made in bilateral relations as Pakistan announced one million dollar support for the new country besides organizing free courses for its capacity building in different areas. Since then they enjoy close and cordial relations but unfortunately the relationship remained confined to political aspects and no worthwhile effort was made to strengthen economic, commercial and defence ties despite huge potential. The two countries signed over two dozen Memorandums of Understanding (MoUs) but progress on them has been marred due to inaction and slackness. Again, Joint Ministerial Commission could hold just a few meetings in 23 years and follow up on decisions has been dismal. In this backdrop, the discussions between Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and President Ilham Aliyev on ways to increase level of trade and economic interaction would hopefully give impetus to the process and something tangible might transpire during the visit of President of Azerbaijan to Pakistan, that is due shortly. The two countries can enter into joint ventures in pharmaceutical sector besides export of textile and sports goods to Azerbaijan while Baku can export oil and chemical products to Pakistan. A unique feature of Pakistan-Azerbaijan bilateral relationship is strong support that both the States extend to each other on issues of mutual interest. Pakistan has always supported Azerbaijan on the issue of Nogorno-Karabakh and during the visit of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, President of Azerbaijan spoke in unequivocal terms on the issue of Kashmir, strongly condemning Indian brutalities in Occupied Kashmir and demanding resolution of this longstanding dispute as per UN resolutions. He has surely won hearts of Pakistanis and Kashmiris by extending support at this critical juncture. All this shows that there is no limit to strengthening of relationship not only with Azerbaijan but all the Central Asian Republics provided we are ready to exploit the potential.