Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan
Pakistan-Azerbaijan bilateral relations new phase of development has been revolutionized after the recent visit of President of Pakistan Mamnoon. Prospects of greater economic integration, speeding-up of FDIs, joint ventures and cooperation in the diverse fields of economy, industry, production, science and technology, ICT and the last but not the least, education would be further deepened and strengthened.
Different Spells of Meaningful Engagements
During the said visit different spells of meeting were arranged in which the main meaningful views were exchanged on economic, trade, commerce, education, defence, science, technology, culture and exchange. Views on regional and international issues of mutual concern were also thoroughly discussed. Four MoUs Agreements will be signed during the visit. A joint declaration was also inked.
1. Early Resolution of Kashmir and Nagorno Karabakh
In a joint statement signed by President Mamnoon Hussain and President Ilham Heydar Aliyev after holding one on one meeting which was followed by delegation level talks, called for early resolution of Kashmir and Nagorno Karabakh issues adding that their early resolution would ensure regional peace and stability.
2. Mutual Cooperation on Terrorism, Extremism & Organized Crime
They also agreed to expand cooperation on curbing terrorism, extremism, separatism, organized crime, smuggling of drugs and arms, and human trafficking.
3. Mutual Cooperation against Money Laundering
The two countries called for mutual cooperation against money laundering and smuggling of archaeological items as per international law. The declaration emphasizes on exploring the possibility of expanding cooperation in the fields of oil and gas.
4. A Historic Visit for turning the relationship into a strategic partnership
The Joint Declaration declared the visit of President Mamnoon Hussain to Azerbaijan a historic occasion. The two sides also signed various agreements.
5. Further Deepening of Bilateral Relations
The declaration said that the visit would provide impetus to bilateral cooperation and called for turning the relationship into a strategic partnership. It was agreed that both countries would promote bilateral friendship and steps would be taken to promote cooperation in the areas of economy, energy, security, trade, tourism, transport, science & technology, environment, sports, culture and education.
6. Extended Cooperation on Human Rights
Pakistan and Azerbaijan also agreed to cooperate on human rights issue and called for establishing contacts between civil societies of two countries.
7. Frequent Exchanges of Parliamentary Contacts
The declaration stresses on frequent exchanges of parliamentary contacts adding that it would further promote bilateral collaboration.
Civil award of Hilal-e Pakistan upon the First Lady of Azerbaijan Madam Mehriban Aliyeva
The President also conferred Pakistan’s highest civil award of Hilal-e Pakistan upon the First Lady of Azerbaijan Madam Mehriban Aliyeva in recognition of her services to the people of Pakistan and continuous humanitarian work spanning over a decade by her organization Hyder Aliyev Foundation in Azad Kashmir and other parts of Pakistan.
President Mamnoon Hussain said that strategic partnership between Pakistan and Azerbaijan on regional and global level would grow in the years to come. Pakistan and Azerbaijan are strategic partners which were established 20 years ago. The Pak-Azerbaijan friendship was founded by two great leaders of the two countries, Heydar Aliyev and Benazir Bhutto. National Bank of Pakistan was the first foreign bank opened a branch in Azerbaijan. Moreover, Pakistan and Azerbaijan are two brotherly Muslim countries with unique commonalities of historical, religious and political nature and after the establishment of the formal diplomatic relations, there was no look back and the ties grew on steady pace.
Satisfaction on the Development of bilateral relations
Expressing satisfaction at the existing excellent bilateral relations between the two countries, President Mamnoon said that during his tête-à-tête with his Azeri counterpart, both of them agreed to further consolidate bilateral relations in diverse fields. He said that both of them had a very candid and productive exchange of views on a wide range of regional and international issues of mutual concern.
He said the bilateral relations between Pakistan and Azerbaijan are rooted in shared history, faith, culture and traditions. “Our two people enjoy mutual trust and possess deep affection for each other, the president added. He said that two countries hold similar views on many regional and global issues. He stated that the two sides reviewed the whole range of bilateral relations and reaffirmed firm commitment to transform the existing excellent political relations into tangible bilateral cooperation in the spheres of economy, investment, trade and commerce, education, defence, science and technology, and culture.
Great Vision & Great Leader
President Mamnoon praised the vision and efforts of the great statesman and leader Azerbaijan president (late) Hyder Aliyev for promoting bilateral relations between Pakistan and Azerbaijan and his commendable contributions in the development of modern Azerbaijan.
The president recalled late leader’s visit to Pakistan in 1996 when he had appreciated Pakistan’s stance on the Kashmir dispute and both countries agreed to support each other on their respective political causes, said a press release.
The president stated that Pakistanis highly respected Hyder Aliyev and also his son President Ilham Aliyev for implementing the vision for his country’s development and for the regional and global order.
Reflections of True Spirits
President Mamnoon Hussain also laid wreath at the tomb of late president of Azerbaijan Hyder Aliyev and offered Fateha for soul of the deceased. Speaking on the occasion, the president praised the vision and efforts of the great statesman and leader Hyder Aliyev and his commendable contributions in the development of modern Azerbaijan.
He also spoke very highly about President Ilham Heydar Aliyev who is effectively implementing his late father’s vision and added that development and progress of Azerbaijan was a role model for developing countries. He expressed confidence that the joint declaration and other documents signed between the two countries would further enhance mutual bilateral cooperation in various fields.
Nagorno-Karabakh Unresolved Conflict
President Mamnoon said that Pakistan supports Azerbaijan for early resolution of Nagorno-Karabakh conflict issue through peaceful means on the basis of international law. Highlighting the efforts that Pakistan has made for a good-neighbourly relationship with India, he appreciated support of Azerbaijan on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
The president noted with appreciation that both countries cooperate closely at the regional and multilateral fora adding that the issue of United Nations Security Council reforms should be resolved with consensus.
The president expressed hope that Pakistan-Azerbaijan bilateral relations will continue to grow from strength to strength. “Our joint efforts in the development of bilateral cooperation and our contribution for peace and development at the regional and international levels will also become more dynamic in the years ahead,” added the President.
Pakistan-Azerbaijan Business Forum
On the occasion, the traders, industrialists and investors of two countries held very useful and productive discussions on different sectors of mutual interest. They affirmed commitment to expand cooperation between the private sectors of two countries expressing hope that fruitful discussions would result into signing of various business agreements in near future.
President Mamnoon stressed on collective efforts for taking economic relations between Pakistan and Azerbaijan to new heights. The president said that the real success of Azerbaijan-Pakistan ties lay in transforming burgeoning political relations into concrete cooperation in the fields of trade, investment, defence, education, culture, science and technology.
Pakistan’s Energy Sector
He said energy sector of Pakistan offers vast opportunities for investment and called upon Azeri investors to take advantage of it. He noted that over a period of time, Pakistan and Azerbaijan had developed expertise in different fields which can be shared for mutual benefits. He said Azerbaijan’s expertise in the field of oil and gas exploration, extraction and refining could potentially bring great benefits to Pakistan.
Azerbaijan’s Energy Cooperation
Azerbaijan has expertise in energy sector, having huge hydel power plants as well as expertise in exploration of oil and gas sector; therefore both the countries would extend cooperation in these areas to further enhance their bilateral relations. According to its official data (2014-15) it has more than 19 mega power plants which are the most advanced power system in the South Caucasus region. It has vast range of renewables i.e. solar, wind, hydro and bio-fuels. Its wind generation capacity is 800MM which translates into $US2.2 billion KMH of electricity. Azerbaijan’s solar energy generation is 1500-2000 KMH/M2 as it receives on average 2400-3200 days sunshine in a year. So the prospects of diversification of energy supplies are brighter.
Qualitative Mix of Pakistani goods
The president said the pharmaceutical products, surgical instruments, sports goods, defence equipment, ready-made garments, rice, fruits and sea food were some of the high quality products of Pakistan awaiting effective introduction in the Azerbaijan market.
Diversification of Bilateral Trade
There was a tremendous potential, he said, to significantly increase and diversify the two-way trade for which joint strategies need to be devised. He stated that Pakistan’s geography, 180 million people, burgeoning middle class and existence of large coal deposits offer enormous opportunities for foreign investment.
Pakistan’s Investment Policy
Calling upon the Azeri businessmen to take advantage of investor friendly policies of Pakistan, the president elaborated that Pakistan offers a liberal investment policy, which includes, 100 percent equity ownership, full repatriation of capital, tax breaks and customs duty concessions on import of plant, machinery and raw materials. He said that Pakistan was also working to expand cooperation with regional economic organisations.
Azerbaijan President Ilham Heydar Aliyev
Speaking on the occasion, Azerbaijan President Ilham Heydar Aliyev said that productive bilateral interaction was held in Pakistan-Azerbaijan Business Forum. He said that Azerbaijan would assist Pakistan in its energy sector. The Azeri president said that businessmen of his country are interested to invest in Pakistan. He stated that Azerbaijan was looking into the possibility of diversifying its economy and in this regard cooperation with Pakistan would be further cemented. He said Pakistan and Azerbaijan have agreed to promote bilateral relations in diverse fields with focus on trade. The Azerbaijan president said that both countries should also collectively work on legal tax regime in order to avoid double taxation. A large number of traders and industrialists of two countries attended the forum.
Strong Defence Cooperation
Minister of Defence and Industry of Azerbaijan Yavar Jamalov also called on the president who said that both countries should take advantage of each other’s experience in the field of defence.
Military cooperation with Azerbaijan is increasing year by year. Officers of Azerbaijan have already participated in different training activities in educational facilities of Pakistan’s armed forces. Similarly, Pakistani officers participate in courses of the Azerbaijan War College. Under the leadership of the National Leader of Azerbaijan, Heydar Aliyev, the Azerbaijan forces halted aggression committed by Armenia soon after independence of the country and regained substantial parts of occupied lands.
The two countries signed a defense agreement in late January 2013 and naval officers subsequently held discussions on military-technical issues. In addition, Azerbaijani naval personnel participated in a Pakistani-led exercise, Aman-2013, held in March on the Arabian Sea. Pakistan is also seen as a potential arms supplier to Baku. Over the past few years, for instance, Azerbaijan has shown interest in obtaining JF-17 aircraft, a multi-purpose combat jet developed jointly by Pakistan and China.
Closer Cooperation between Parliamentarians
Member of National Assembly of Azerbaijan Ganira Alasgarqizi Pasha¬yeva also met President Mamnoon Hussain. During the meeting, the president stressed the need of closer cooperation between parliamentarians of the two countries which could play an important role in supplementing governmental efforts to strengthen relations. The president praised Ganira’s contributions to the development of Pakistan-Azerbaijan relations. Ganira Alasgarqizi Pashayeva presented her book on Pakistan to the president. The president congratulated her on writing the book and said it would enhance friendship and mutual understanding among people of the two countries.
Honorary Doctorate Degree
Baku State University conferred an honorary doctorate degree on the President Mamnoon Hussain. Speaking on the occasion, the president expressed profound gratitude for being awarded with degree. He stated that the bonds of brotherhood between the two countries were based on common history, culture, values and way of life, said a press release.
The president appreciated that the Baku State University had an Urdu Department and said that he was pleased to meet students learning Urdu and Pakistani culture. He said the National Book Foundation of Pakistan had set up a section in its building to pay tribute to Azeri poet Nizami Ganjvi and the foundation was publishing his books.
Meeting with Prime Minister
During his meeting with Prime Minister of Azerbaijan Artur Tahir Rasizade, President Hussain expressed the hope that Azerbaijan would consider investing in mega projects undertaken by the government of Pakistan, particularly in the fields of energy and infrastructure.
Pakistan’s Textile & Pharmaceutical Products
He highlighted that Pakistani textile and pharmaceutical products complied with international standards and were exported all over the world, adding that Azerbaijan might consider importing these products.
World-class Sports Goods
Referring to the hosting of European Olympics in June 2015, the president said that Pakistan produced world-class sports goods, used in mega sports events around the world and that Azerbaijan could consider importing sports goods from Pakistan, particularly footballs for the forthcoming soccer tournament.
Mr Rasizade said that the visit of President Hussain had added a new chapter in the bilateral relations of two countries. He added that Azerbaijan was looking forward to further cement its ties with Pakistan in different sectors to the mutual benefit of the two countries.
Meeting with Chairman of the Milli Mejlis of Azerbaijan Ogtay S. Asadov
During his meeting with Chairman of the Milli Mejlis of Azerbaijan Ogtay S. Asadov, President Hussain said road and rail infrastructure development amongst countries of the region was the key to regional integration for attaining collective socio-economic development.
Importance of people-to-people Exchange
He underlined the need for frequent people-to-people and parliamentary exchanges between the two countries. He stated that the Parliamentary Friendship Group in the two parliaments could promote friendship between the two countries proposing that the Friendship Group should visit each other’s country at least once a year. He praised the performance of the parliament of Azerbaijan.
Strengthening of Bilateral Cooperation
Mr Asadov said the visit of President Hussain symbolised the burgeoning cooperation between the two countries and hoped that bilateral relations and parliamentary exchanges between them would grow in the future.
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. Now, a corner of Azeri culture has been established in Look Versa in Islamabad and Azeri students are studying in Pakistan. 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.
Both sides have reiterated to further strengthen existing bilateral ties through enhanced interaction between the parliaments and people. Pakistan was among the first states to recognize Azerbaijan’s independence following the 1991 Soviet collapse. Conversely, Islamabad has not yet formally recognized Armenia, Baku’s arch-rival. Pakistan supports Azerbaijan on the dispute of Armenia and likewise Azerbaijan supports Pakistan on the dispute of Kashmir. Joint Ministerial Session held in December 2011 both sides decided to enhance economic relations at par to the political relations.
Establishment of Pakistan-Azerbaijan Business Forum was established which would facilitate businessmen, investors and industrialists of both the countries in their future decision making. It would be a game-change in further deepening of bilateral relations in the fields of economic integration, trade & commerce, energy cooperation, and the last but not the least, educational exchange in the days to come. It is hoped that private sector of both the countries would now in a better position to invest and initiate joint ventures in the diverse filed of economy and production.
The current level of cooperation is beneficial enough for both sides. For Pakistan, the strategic alliance with Azerbaijan offers a degree of recognition of Pakistan’s bid or become a more active, assertive and powerful regional actor. For Azerbaijan, Pakistan is also an important diplomatic supporter and more recently, as key military partner.
It is also hoped that after this historic visit of President Mamnoon Hussain to Azerbaijan possibilities of further cooperation in the fields of military cooperation and production would be explored. Both countries would also extend their mutual expertise in the fields of oil and gas, garments, construction material, pharmacy, agriculture, sports, and science & technology.
The great journey of modernism and development has made Azerbaijan stood amongst the greatest nations of the world is because of visionary leaders Heydar Aliyev and H.E. Ilham Aliyev. Their contributions are also connected with the socio-economic prosperity, political stability, constitutional development and the last but not the least, cultural uplift of their country.