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HomeGeopolitical CompassWest & Centeral AsiaThe Turkey-Pakistan Entente: Muslim Middle Powers Align in Eurasia

The Turkey-Pakistan Entente: Muslim Middle Powers Align in Eurasia

Author: Arif Rafiq

Affiliation: Vizier Consulting, non-resident scholar at the Middle East Institute

Organization/Publisher: Middle East Institute

Date/Place: January 29, 2021/UK

Type of Literature: Analysis

Word Count: 1400

Link: https://www.mei.edu/publications/turkey-pakistan-entente-muslim-middle-powers-align-eurasia

Keywords: Pakistan, Turkey, Kashmir, Diplomacy, Defense, Bilateral Relations

Brief:

The material and physical help extended by Muslims, mostly from present-day Pakistan, to Turkey’s War of Independence has left an indelible mark on the bilateral relations between the two countries. This analysis contextualizes the present-day slogan Ikhi Devlet, Bir Millet (Two states, One nation) by its peoples. From Turkey’s President Erdoğan comparing Kashmir to Turkey’s Gallipoli, the author explains how Pakistan has boosted its arms imports from Turkey’s booming defense industry, and how the two countries are working to expand cooperation in the sector. The national affinity for each other is so deep that Turkey’s television series “Diriliş: Ertuğrul” is a hit not just in Pakistan but across the Urdu-knowing South Asian region. It is being run prime time (in Urdu)  by Pakistan state television. He points to favorable geo-political positions that the two countries enjoy, and sizable populations with strong militaries, which make it easier for them to play significant roles. However, the pedestal to transform the bilateral relations rests on strengthening trade and economy. The two nations are energy importers and are facing tough financial demands, more so by Islamabad where infrastructure upgrade is a priority if the Ankara-Tehran-Islamabad train starts chugging. Despite being one of Turkey’s largest defense customers, the bilateral relations between Ankara and Islamabad have not seen considerable push. The trade boosted to slightly over $1 billion in 2010-11 but has been around only $600-800 million in the past decade. The author argues that despite the two nations representing the Western bloc post 1950s, they have similarly suffered through sanctions by these same allies, which has led to Turkey focusing on indigenous defense capacity building. “For both Pakistan and Turkey to succeed in their respective quests for strategic autonomy and leverage their partnership into firm geostrategic gains, sustained economic growth is absolutely essential,” the author insists. This relation has got a boost in recent times when Azerbaijan won its second war over Nagorno-Karabakh. It revived the trilateral meeting of foreign ministers of these countries who held their second meeting since 2017 in Islamabad to boost relations and work together at multilateral forums.


By: Riyaz Ul Khaliq, CIGA Non-Resident Research Associate

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