Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan
The Republic of Turkey is an emerging economic leader in Asia, Europe and Africa. It is the 16th largest economy of the world. It is a successful model of democracy in the whole Islamic World. It is an ideal leader to all the emerging economies to liberalize its economy without compromising its traditions. It is an ideal hub of modernity and local cultures. Now, Turkey and Pakistan has established a sustained “strategic partnership”. It would provide win-win situation for both the countries.
Turkish-Pakistan relations are poised to become even stronger in the years to come. Its relationships have strategic depth anchored in history. Both countries have strong solidarity. Both have already enjoyed strong ties due to shared history, common faith and cultural similarities.
The Republic of Turkey and Pakistan also enjoy a unique relationship in inter-state relations. It is unique in terms of mutual trust, understanding and close cooperation. Common Islamic tradition formed the basis of unchanging people-to-people relations. Now sincere efforts have been made to develop bilateral cooperation especially in the energy and trade sectors through the platform of High Level Strategic Cooperation Council.
Both countries seek to further relations by increasing bilateral trade and deepening economic cooperation. The overall effort is to intensify mutual cooperation in all fields and impart a strong economic content to the relationship. The vision is to transform this long-standing, cordial relationship into a comprehensive and robust economic partnership.
Its relationship has a solid foundation based as it is on common faith, shared history and cultural affinities. Our long-standing relations span diverse areas from political to economic, to defense and security, to education and culture. Both countries work closely in the United Nations and other international and regional organizations. Both countries support each other on issues like Kashmir and North Turkish Republic of Cyprus and have similar perspectives on regional and international issues.
Meaningful Visit of Mevlut Cavusoglu, Turkish Foreign Minister
Most recently, the Republic of Turkey foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu officially visited Pakistan and thoroughly discussed issues of mutual interests with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, President Mamnoon Hussian and the Advisor to PM on Foreign Affairs, Sartaj Aziz. Government of Pakistan highly appreciated Turkish’s government and its people resolve for democracy and democratic norms in the times of crises in shape of a failed military coup. The government of Pakistan showed solidarity with leaders and people of Turkey in their recent difficult times.
Various Spells of High Official Meetings
Foreign minister Mevlut Cavusoglu during his meetings with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif, President Mamnoon Hussain, Adviser on Foreign Policy Sartaj Aziz and Minister for Safron, Cavusoglu stated that Turkey fully supports Pakistan’s position on Kashmir and asked the OIC Secretary General to mobilise the OIC Contact Group and send a fact-finding mission to Indian-held Kashmir.
“Turkey has always supported Pakistan on its stance on the Kashmir issue. We believe this dispute can be solved only through dialogue and diplomacy, not violence or using force,” he said.
Turkey Principal Stance against Gulen
Cavusoglu reiterated President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s statement that Gulen, has been blamed for the recently failed coup bid, and hence this request to close the Gulen-run schools in Pakistan should be considered.
Pakistani Government’s Assurance
The Pakistani leadership held out an assurance that it “will explore options to come up with an arrangement to ensure that the schools are de-linked from the Gulen network.”
Joint Press Conference
However, during a joint press conference at the Foreign Office with Sartaj Aziz, Cavusoglu revealed that the request to shut down the Gulen-run schools in Pakistan was made well before the recent failed coup in Turkey. He added that Gulen’s “terrorist group” should be stamped out.
Ill Designs of Gulen
“It is not secret that this organisation has institutions or their presence in Pakistan and in many other countries,” he said. “I am sure the necessary measures will be taken. We have to be very careful with such organisations and their causing risk and threat for the security and stability of every country that they have presence.”
He added that this organisation has a global network of schools, business associations and cultural organisations. “In the past, we supported them but we did not know they had a hidden agenda. They were trying to take over power in Turkey through such attempts, he added.
Meeting with Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif
According to the spokesman at the Foreign Office, during Cavusoglu’s call on the prime minister, both the leaders expressed satisfaction at the continued expansion and deepening of bilateral relations.
“The prime minister emphasised the importance that Pakistan attaches to its relations with Turkey and underlined the need to hold regular high-level exchanges,” said the spokesman.
Meeting with President of Pakistan
The president, in his meeting with the Turkish foreign minister, stressed on the importance of fostering unity among the Muslim Ummah to tackle the modern day challenges faced by it and noted that both Pakistan and Turkey had an important role to play in that regard.
Pakistan’s Strong Condemnation
Both the president and the prime minister reiterated their strong condemnation on the attempted coup in Turkey and lauded the successful defence of democracy by the people of Turkey under the popular leadership of President Erdogan.
During the joint press conference, Sartaj Aziz stressed that Pakistan and Turkey enjoy close brotherly relations. “We are on the same page when it comes to tackling terrorism.” However, Aziz did not make any commitment that Pakistan was immediately closing down the Gulen-run schools as he commented, “We will try to find an alternative arrangement for the schools to continue whereas their other activities have to be managed or curbed.”
Delegation Level Talks
At the delegation level talks at the Foreign Office, both sides discussed methods to increase cooperation and are “hoping to sign a free trade agreement this year”.
SSatisfaction over FTAs
Both countries satisfied at the rapidly growing multidimensional cooperation. Both countries agreed on the need for sustained engagement for enhanced cooperation in diverse fields. Both countries thoroughly discussed Free Trade Agreement (FTA) and agreed on its early conclusion of bilateral Free Trade Agreement. It would significantly contribute towards the overall vision of the leadership of the two countries to transform the traditionally cordial bilateral relations into a robust economic partnership. It is hoped that it would be game changer for the further strengthening of socio-economic relations in the days to come.
Emerging Geo-Political and Geo-Strategic Trends in the Region
Both countries discussed emerging geo-political and geo-strategic trends in the region and especially Afghanistan. The government of Pakistan briefed Turkish foreign minister about reconciliation efforts, steps taken to improve border management between Pakistan and Afghanistan and the status of Afghan refugees. He also underscored the imperatives of reaching a sustainable and lasting peace in Afghanistan through reconciliation and dialogue.
Greater Economic Partnership
During his stay in brotherly country Cavusoglu, said the excellent bilateral relations were being transformed into economic partnership for the mutual benefit of both countries. “The excellent bilateral relations are already being transformed into a vibrant economic partnership as both countries want to build strong and mutually advantageous relations”. He said the potential for economic cooperation and integration between Turkey and Pakistan “has not yet been fully tapped” despite similar economic structures and efforts of entrepreneurs of the two countries.
Weak Logistic Connections
Cavusoglu pinpointed weak logistics connections for low turn-out of socio-economic relation. “I believe that strengthening logistics connectivity between the two countries and further to Eurasia will bring a strong impetus to the integration between the two countries. We are working on increasing our transport connectivity by all means. Flights have been increased and need to be increased even further.” He said that container train service on the Istanbul-Islamabad corridor would provide “a fast, reliable and low-cost logistics alternative that has a potential to boost trade relations.”
Utility of Road Transport Joint Commission
He further elaborated that BALO (Great Anatolia Logistics Organization) is undertaking feasibility studies for strengthening coordination and initiating further investments for this train service. ‘Road Transport Joint Commission’ between the two countries will hold its second meeting in Islamabad this month. In this regard, Pakistan’s adherence to International TIR (Transports Internationaux Routiers) system in 2015 is an important step for the regulation of road transport.
Importance of People-to-People Contacts
The Turkish foreign minister rightly suggested people-to-people connections were also of great importance for fostering connectivity and integration between Turkey and Pakistan. Turkey-Pakistan Business Council and the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey are closely cooperating with the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry to provide platforms for increasing interaction between the business communities he added.
Role of Turkish- Pakistani Business Communities
For further strengthening of socio-economic ties, Turkish and Pakistani business communities are also cooperating at the regional and trilateral level in the organizations and mechanisms such as the Federation of D-8 Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), Chambers of Commerce (ECO CCI) and Istanbul Forum for Economic Cooperation between Turkey, Afghanistan and Pakistan.
“To foster entrepreneurship and innovation in three countries and the relations between young entrepreneurs, the Forum aims to establish business incubation centers similar to GARAJ incubation center in TOBB University of Economics and Technology with the assistance of the Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA) he added.
‘Turkey-Pakistan High Level Strategic Cooperation Council’
He highlighted the importance and utility of the framework of ‘Turkey-Pakistan High Level Strategic Cooperation Council’ working groups have been established on industry, trade and investment, banking and finance, culture and tourism and communications-railways.
It is responsible for holding of trade fairs, exchange of trade delegations, technical assistance and scholarship programmes should be fulfilled to enhance bilateral trade, the Turkish foreign minister said.
Turkey-Pakistan Bilateral Trade Volumes
He said the trade volume with Pakistan exceeded US$ 1 billion in 2011. “Unfortunately, it decreased to US$ 599.6 million in 2015. We need to increase our trade volume which is far below the potential. In this regard, diversification of our trade is essential.”
“In 2015, bilateral trade volume was US$ 599.7 million. Turkey exports to Pakistan were US$ 289 million, while imports from Pakistan were US$ 310.5 million. In the first 5 months of 2016, compared to the same period of 2015, Turkish exports to Pakistan increased by 39.6 percent and became US$ 151 million, whereas imports from Pakistan decreased by 30.2 percent and realized as US$ 105 million.
He said even though there was a slight decrease in the bilateral trade volume in the first five months of 2016, “I believe that our efforts will pave the way for carrying our bilateral trade volume to higher levels in a mutually beneficial way.”
Turkey has emerged as one of Pakistan’s most important trading partners over the last decade with the volume of trade rising from almost US$ 0.27 billion in 2003 to near US$1 billion in 201. Impressive increase in trade volume accounted for the proposed PTA with both countries agreeing to strengthen trade relations by expanding the trade volume to almost US$ 2 billion However, a cause for concern has been the sharp dip in the volume of trade to almost US$ 0.69 billion in 2012.
Pakistan has enjoyed a trade surplus with Turkey over the last decade, which has expanded over the years. In 2003, Pakistan’s trade surplus was almost US$ 0.13 billion; it grew to almost US$ 0.54 billion in 2011, registering an impressive fourfold increase. Despite the fall in Pakistan’s exports to Turkey in 2012, Pakistan has been able to sustain its favorable trade surplus. Given the country’s persistent trade deficit, its trade surplus with Turkey is an anchor for Pakistan’s external sector.
Unfortunately, bilateral trade decreased from $1.082 billion in 2010-11 to $630.467 million in 2011-12, a 42 percent decrease from last year. Pakistan’s exports decreased from $906.58 million in 2010-11 to $455.83 million in 2011-12, which is a 50 percent decrease from last year. Pakistan’s imports from Turkey showed a small decrease from $176.26 million in 2010-11 to $174.63 million in 2011-12 which was only one percent decrease. Hence, the balance of payment has been in favour of Pakistan for the last 12 years as Pakistan exports to Turkey are textile raw materials i.e. cotton yarn, cotton cloth, denim cloth etc. and imports mostly raw material from the country.
“We believe that this comprehensive FTA will also bring our countries closer by opening up new horizons in our economic and commercial ties. It will no doubt increase the bilateral trade volume and contribute to strengthened deep-rooted and strong economic relations,” the minister said.
He said additionally, the inclusion of trade in services and investment into the FTA will also serve to deepen trade and investment relations between the two countries.
“Therefore, I am confident that finalizing the FTA by the end of September this year, as it was decided by our leaders, will not only strengthen our trade relations, but will also contribute significantly to developing our bilateral investments,” he said .
Important Role of Turkish Companies in Pakistan
He briefed about valuable contributions of so many Turkish companies in Pakistan and said Turkish companies’ investments in Pakistan currently stand at US$ 900 million. He also pinpointed many diversified and preferred areas for Turkish companies investments in the country mainly tourism, information technology, food processing, agro-based products, dairy development, hotel industry and resorts development.
Talking about energy cooperation between the two countries, he shared that Pakistan has its own energy resources such as hydro-electric, coal, oil and natural gas, shale gas, and also alternative energy resources such as solar and wind. Turkish companies that have experience in energy projects around the world have already been involved in some of these fields in Pakistan with successful results.
“Energy is a field where we expect more Turkish companies to participate,” the minister said.
Cooperation in Agro-Economy
Questioning about mutual cooperation in agro-based economy and its associated sectors such as, livestock and dairy, he said Pakistan was the world’s fourth largest producer of milk, fourth largest holder of livestock, fifth largest producer of wheat, among top rice producers and of course in mango production as well.
“Turkey has made important reforms in agriculture and has a very developed food processing industry. Not only can we trade with each other, but also we can bring know-how and process agricultural products in Pakistan, for exports to third countries” he added.
He briefed about Turkish textile companies with their developed technical capabilities and investment capacity was also encouraged to explore this sector for joint ventures.
Turkey’s Global Business Development
He talked about its country’s infrastructure which is another area where Turkish companies have extensive international experience. Turkish contractors have undertaken 8,693 projects in 107 countries with a total value of US$ 322.6 billion. At present 42 Turkish companies are included among the ‘Top 250 International Contractors List’ with an annual turnover of US$ 19.3 billion in 2015.
“With this figure Turkey ranked second in the world after the People’s Republic of China. On the other hand Turkey is among the world’s top 12 producers of building materials such as cement, glass, steel and ceramic tiles. Despite the effects of global crisis in the international markets that have been felt in 2008 and aftermath, Turkish international contracting services fared quite well in this period.”
Pakistan is in the process of upgrading and expanding its infrastructure. In fact, many challenges faced today in the field of energy and economy are related to lack of investment in the past in dams, roads and railways. This is another area where our business communities can work together.
Pakistan’s Resolve against Terrorism
Turkish government highly appreciated the government of Pakistan resolve against terrorism. Questioned on Pak-Turkish cooperation to fight the scourge of terrorism, he said, “Terrorism is a global scourge and should be countered globally.”
“Pakistan is a very important partner not only for Turkey, but for entire international community in our joint fight against terrorist networks. We have exemplary cooperation with Pakistan in countering terrorism.”
Singing of FTA
On signing Free Trade Agreement (FTA) between Istanbul and Islamabad, he said Turkey and Pakistan had decided to sign a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement at the Fourth High Level Strategic Cooperation Council meeting held in February 2015 in Islamabad.
The official negotiations were launched on October 2015. From July 25 to 27, 2016, the third round of FTA negotiations was completed in Ankara. Thanks to the efforts of both the technical delegations and the strong political leadership of our countries, we came a long way regarding the ongoing process. The next round will take place at the end of this month in Islamabad.
He talked about nature, scope, prospects and volumes of bilateral trade between the two countries:-
Pakistan-China Economic Corridor
Answering a question on Pakistan- China Economic Corridor, he said Turkey signed the “Memorandum of Understanding on Aligning the Silk Road and the 21st Century Maritime Silk Road and the Middle Corridor Initiative between the Government of the Republic of Turkey and the Government of the People’s Republic of China” on November 14, 2015 in Antalya, Turkey during the G20 Summit. Turkey also welcomes the cooperation between Pakistan and China in that regard.
“Middle Corridor” linking Turkey
We have developed certain projects such as the “Middle Corridor” linking Turkey to the Caucasus and the Central Asian Republics via crossing the Caspian Sea. Marmaray tube crossing under the Bosphorus Bridge has already been built and links Europe and Asia.
“We believe that Turkey, Pakistan and China can collaborate closely in reviving the ancient Silk Road. Therefore a strong cooperation between these countries will bring successful results in aligning the Silk Road Economic Belt initiative with the Middle Corridor project, he said.
“Middle Corridor Initiative” & ‘Belt and Road”
He said Turkey believed that the Middle Corridor Initiative and the ‘Belt and Road’ will contribute to regional development, welfare, cultural exchange and enhance people-to-people contacts. It will also provide new employment opportunities and energy security.
“Thus, we support integration projects in the fields of transportation, logistics, investment, energy and trade that would contribute to the realization of the “Modern Silk Road.”
Pakistan’s geographic location shall play an essential role in establishing both the Middle Corridor project and the Belt and Road initiative.
Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB)
The Asian Infrastructure and Investment Bank (AIIB), where Turkey and Pakistan are founding members, is another area of cooperation between the two countries within the framework of Belt and Road.
“We are ready to work together with our Pakistani brothers. In this regard, we think that scheduled rounds of Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad freight trains could be a good area of cooperation within the framework of Belt and Road.”
He said that a regular consultation mechanism should be established between the relevant ministries, particularly the Ministries of Transportation.
Concerns about Afghanistan
Turkish Foreign Minister Cavusoglu in response to a question on Afghanistan said, “Turkey fully supports and considers the ‘Quadrilateral Coordination Group’ and the ‘High Level Bilateral Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination’ between brotherly Pakistan and Afghanistan as constructive steps. We commend the efforts and facilitating role of Pakistan in this regard.”
Importance of Peace and Reconciliation Process
He said as one of the main pillars of the political transition and a key to lasting peace in Afghanistan and for regional stability, “The successful conclusion of the Peace and Reconciliation Process is vital.”
The Turkish foreign minister underlined the need for establishing mutual trust between Kabul and Islamabad, saying, a functioning cooperation between Pakistan and Afghanistan were among the priorities of Turkey’s foreign policy towards the region.
Importance of Trilateral Summit Mechanism
“With this understanding, Turkey initiated Trilateral Summit mechanism in 2007, and so far eight Summit meetings have been held. As seen in the example of ‘Quadrilateral Coordination Group’ and recently established ‘High Level Bilateral Mechanism for Consultation and Coordination,’ we observe that our efforts brought concrete results in establishing dialogue channels between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
“I am convinced that Pakistan and Afghanistan are capable to clear out their differences in finding common solutions to their mutual challenges and establish a genuine trust between their institutions.”
Turkey would resolutely continue its efforts in that regard and stand ready to assume any additional role if required by both countries. He said Turkey was “ready to host the ninth Summit of the Turkey- Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Process.”
Turkey, Pakistan has not only a strategic relationship, but also an economic one. Both countries are cooperating on Afghanistan through the Istanbul Process and the ‘Heart of Asia’ process to ensure stability in the region. However, he said economic relations with Turkey have not been very encouraging. He said that Turkey had always come to the rescue of Pakistan during disasters, proving all kinds of assistance to affected areas.
Turkey-Pakistan Defence Ties
For the past 10 years, Turkey and Pakistan have built a steady foundation for extensive cooperation in a number of different areas related to defence and security. Moreover, due to emerging geo-political and geo-strategic and its combined spillover repercussions have gelled both the countries into so many meaningful military cooperation. Now, both have agreed to modernise its F-16 fleet, which will cost Islamabad $75 million.
Both countries have struck a deal in an aviation project under which Istanbul will modernise Pakistan’s air fighter planes and some of them have already been flown to Turkey. Turkey manufactures engines of the F 16 jets besides making some of their spare parts as well.
Turkey and Pakistan have exchanged military goods, but they have also regularly trained with another in exercises i.e. Anatolian Eagle and Indus Viper. The Turkish defence industry is vast and competent, and as such, it offers the Pakistani armed forces many possible areas of armament acquisition and development.
Armed Forces of Pakistan Expected Defence Collaboration with Turkey
Pakistan Army Pakistan Army was interested in the T-129 ATAK dedicated attack helicopter which was not materialized due to so many complicated and overlapped geo-political reasons. Pakistan Army was also interested in the Otokar Altay main battle tank (MBT. It was also eager to acquire some of the Altay’s subsystems e.g. active protection suite for use on the al-Khalid and possibly forthcoming Haider MBT programs. The Pakistan Army also previously bought towed howitzers from the Turkish armament manufacturer MKEK.
Pakistan Air Force (PAF) It could also tap into Aselsan’s expertise in developing and producing electronic warfare (EW) and electronic countermeasures (ECM) solutions for support on the JF-17. Perhaps the PAF could even consider acquiring the ASELPOD to meet the JF-17’s air-to-ground mission needs. Roketsan could be consulted for sourcing laser-guided bomb (LGB) kits for Mk-81 and Mk-82 series general purpose bombs (GPB). TUBITAK SAGE’s HGK precision-guided bomb (PGB) kit for Mk-84 GPBs could be an option as well. Pakistan could consider the laser-guided rocket and Mizraak anti-tank guided missile (ATGM) as well. Overall, there is no shortage of options in the area equipping Pakistan’s aerial assets.
Pakistan Navy Pakistan Navy had sought to acquire a corvette design from Turkey. Pakistan Navy is able to place new generation multi-mission frigates into its acquisition pipeline it could consider acquiring command and control as well as combat management systems from Havelsan (e.g. GENESIS).
There is a strong political will from both countries to translate their historic and cordial relations into a strong sustainable strategic partnership. In terms of capabilities, strong cooperative relationship in defense industries between the two countries is a major asset. The past ten years or so have witnessed a profound improvement in this area. Turkey is cooperating in armored vehicles, tanks, military communication systems and naval patrol boats in Pakistan. There is also the willingness on both sides to expand the relationship to further areas such as aerospace industries. Turkey has a growing economy, and a focus on improving its defense industry by producing its own technology in this area. Within this respect, there are great prospects for Turkey to cooperate with Pakistan and Turkey sees Pakistan not as a market where it can sell products, but a long-term reliable partner for cooperation.
Turkey-Pakistan Military Cooperation
Pakistan-Turkey Military Consultative Group (MCG) formed to work on extending cooperation and exchanging experiences in the fields of military training and defense production between the two countries and to review geo-political environment of the region in 1988. Both countries have established high level military dialogue group in 2001 for promoting defense cooperation and collaboration between the two countries. Both the countries have been doing joint military, naval & air exercises Aman & Indus viper series.
Pakistan has been participating in F16 Anatolian eagle exercises in Turkey since 2004 and exchange of T37 & F16 pilots, also exchange of two pilots each for basic training (agreement signed in June 2016. Other agreements include F16 upgradation in Turkey and purchase of defense equipment from Turkish vendors like attack helicopters and electronics.
Moreover, during the 4th meeting of High Level Strategic Co-operation Council (HLSCC) held earlier this year Pakistan and Turkey signed 11 agreements and MOUs to strengthen and institutionalize their strategic cooperation. In maritime collaboration sixteen thousand tones fleet tanker is being built in Karachi shipyard with the support of Turkish firm which is landmark defense collaboration. Another initiative was the defense industry collaboration of Qatar, Turkey and Pakistan initiated by Ministry of Defense of Pakistan. Turkey has already provided Pakistan with thirty-four T-37 fighter trainer aircrafts and their spare parts free of cost.
Both countries have made remarkable progress in military cooperation and their collective efforts and expertise can complement each other to contribute to achieve greater regional and global peace and prosperity. Turkey and Pakistan can play more decisive role in settling the crisis in Muslim world i.e. Arab Spring, Syria, Yemen, Iraq, flight against ISIS, instability in Afghanistan, Palestine, Kashmir and Cyprus conflict and others. Turkey and Pakistan jointly can bring other Muslim countries to address these issues.
The emerging geo-strategic paradigm around the world poses new security threats. Rise to non-state security actors, terrorism, human trafficking, extremism and constant political chaos in most of the Muslim countries have rocked the world. Horizontal and a vertical expansion of security threats in the world are on the move. Horizontal broadening in the sense of incorporating “new” non-military aspects of security, such as environmental, economic, demographic, criminal, terrorist, health, information, immigration and other aspects. Vertical broadening in the sense of security referring to incorporation of other non-state referent objects, such as individuals, local communities, groups of people by common ethnic, religious or ideological characteristics, global community etc. Turkey and Pakistan can jointly make efforts to eradicate the menace of all these horizontal and a vertical security threats.
Turkey-Pakistan Bilateral Relations
Turkey and Pakistan have had long trustworthy relations, which have been strengthened by growing economic cooperation between the two governments in sectors such as energy, transport, communications, infrastructure, textiles, automobiles, agriculture, industry, food processing, dairy development, information technology, oil and gas, and trade.
Since independence Turkey has maintained friendly relations with Turkey owing to a largely common culture and geopolitical considerations.
Both countries are founding members of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) and part of the Developing 8 (D-8) countries as well as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). For the further strengthening of bilateral relations and economics ties, Turkey and Pakistan have signed a number of agreements including the Trade Agreement (1965), Economic and Technical Cooperation Agreement (1976), Prevention of Double Taxation Agreement (1988), and Reciprocal Promotion and Protection of Investments Agreement (1997). Within the framework of the 1976 agreement, the countries established the Turkey-Pakistan Joint Economic Committee Mechanism. Since then, regular meetings have been held in Ankara and Islamabad with public institutions from both countries taking part to evaluate bilateral economic and commercial relations.
The Turkey-Pakistan Business Council was founded in order to strengthen relations between the private sectors of the two countries and encourage new business contacts. Turkey also initiated the Turkey-Afghanistan-Pakistan Trilateral Summit meetings in 2007 with the aim of establishing mutual confidence and cooperation among the three countries. Its latest meeting of the summit was held in Istanbul.
Cooperation between the two strategic partners received an even stronger push in 2013 when the Prime Minister of Pakistan visited Istanbul, followed shortly after by the Turkish Prime Minister’s visit to Pakistan in December 2013. Both heads of state agreed to strengthen their bilateral relationship for greater mutual gains: three important MOUs were signed between the Punjab Industrial Department and Turkey Cooperation Agency, Pakistan Railways and the Turkish Logistics Organization, and the Pakistan Standard Quality Control Authority and Turkish Standards Institution. However, the most important product of this increasing cooperation has been the two countries’ mutual agreement to conclude talks concerning the PTA. From 2014 to date, rigorous negotiations are being carried to finalize long awaited free trade agreement between the countries. Moreover, most recent visit of Turkish Foreign Minister would become value-addition in further strengthening of bilateral relations and deepening of socio-economic ties and fostering of geo-political and geo-strategic understanding.
The Republic of Turkey and Pakistan are strategic partners. Both countries are indispensable partners working assiduously to promote peace and prosperity for their people and the region. Turkish former Prime Minister emphatically declared that Pakistan’s security was Turkish security and Pakistan’s flag was the Turkish flag and that Turkey would always stand by Pakistan. The affinity amongst the people of the two countries, nurtured by decades old cultural, religious and geo-political links is an almost unparalleled phenomenon in the history of bilateral relations between states.
The people of Turkey and Pakistan enjoy brotherly relations that are not only deep rooted in history but also are based on shared values and common national interests. Since the establishment of Pakistan, both countries have been extending exemplary support to each other during the most difficult times. Notwithstanding Turkey-Pakistan relationship is at best in political and cultural spheres, trade and economic relations do not reflect the depth of these brotherly ties and much is to be achieved in this area by the both governments and private sector businessmen of the two countries.
Turkey is an important country of the region and a worthy military and economic power. It has been taking keen interest in promoting peace in the region and bringing Pakistan and Afghanistan closer with a view to resolve the Afghan conundrum and building mutual trust between them. It launched a trilateral summit process between Turkey, Pakistan and Afghanistan in February 2007 to pursue this objective and it was as a result of continued Turkish endeavors that some visible progress was made at the eighth trilateral Summit in Ankara in 2014. The three countries agreed to enhance cooperation for regional security, stability and development.
Most recent visit of Turkish foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu to Pakistan is opened a new chapter in the bilateral relations of both the countries. It further strengthened socio-economic ties. It further deepened political ties in terms of better understanding on different regional and global issues of mutual interests.
Following are given valid suggestions for the further strengthening of bilateral relations by transforming and achieving greater economic integration, defence ties, and common strategies against terrorism:-
(a) Early singing of Free Trade Agreement would be a ”game changer”. It would accelerate trade volumes, economic ties, joint ventures and the last but not the least, foreign direct investments. Turkey and Pakistan have agreed to sign a FTA to enhance bilateral trade to $10 billion besides inking an additional protocol to strengthen the protection available to Turkish investments in Pakistan.
(b) Establishment of “Special Economic Free Zones” on mutual basis would bring desired dividends of greater socio-economic integration, industrialization and above all technology transfer facilities in the days to come. At least 100 Turkish companies were already doing successful business in Pakistan. These companies have invested dollar 2.7 billion on various projects in Pakistan until 2014. More Turkish investment is expected in energy infrastructure and beverages projects. He disclosed that Turkish Coca Cola Company was expected to bring in dollar 250 million investment in Pakistan in next three years.
(c) Greater role of “Private Sectors” of both the countries would be important to enhance trade volumes because both countries have traditionally focused more on other markets, rather than each other’s. It must be changed now for the achieving befitting propositions for both the countries.
(d) Mutual cooperation of diverse sectors such as diary, agro-economy, energy, infrastructure, science & technology, civil aviation, banking and financial services must be initiated for win-win situation of both the countries.
(e) Swap of currencies may enhance bilateral trade volumes between the two countries.
(f) Establishment of “Joint Chamber of Commerce” would bring greater economic integration.
(g) Missing of “Direct Transportation Links” has been a serious constraint for promoting Turkey-Pakistan business activities and economic ties which must be transformed by initiating already agreed mega projects of “Rails” and “Communications”.
(h) There is still a lack of better understanding about the “Vast Opportunities” existing in the two countries. Then, there are safeguard duties on textiles acting as a constraint in the way of enhanced trade which should be removed immediately.
(i) Security cooperation on different domestic (police training, terrorism, extremism, broad management, scientific investigation) regional (Afghanistan, Kashmir) and global (Arab Spring, Syria, Iraq, Iran, Palestine, ISIS, etc. issues.
(j) Turkey and Pakistan need to be cognizant of traditional and nontraditional challenges emerging from complexities of changing security paradigm, which warrants enhanced cooperation between both sides in spheres of defense and security.
(k) Both countries should extend the cooperation in defense coproduction e.g. aerospace technology.
(l) Turkey and Pakistan and can go for integrational mechanism of defense coproduction that is for efficient use of the resources, produce one part here and upgradation in other country vice versa.
(m) Both countries need to take benefit from the opportunities of cooperation available in areas of maritime defense production, infrastructure, trade and economic corridors etc.
(n) Widening cooperation on “CPEC” by exploring new avenues would connect Pakistan and West Asia and Turkey, whose unique economic geography places it in a position of strength, and to act as a natural platform for connectivity with several regions and nations.
(o) Joint stance on “UN Security Council Reform”.
(p) More focused “Educational & Cultural Cooperation” between the two countries. Both countries have had a long-standing tradition of educational cooperation. Currently, according to the figures the number of Pakistani students in Turkey is close to 1,000, and they are studying in various disciplines from natural sciences to engineering to business administration.
(q) Both countries should energize OIC so that the multidimensional problems confronted by Muslim world could be resolved.