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Pakistan-Azerbaijan: There are great prospects to boost cooperation between the two countries in many fields

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Baku, 16 January 2017 – Newtimes.az

Khalid Usman Qaiser

Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary

of the Islamic Republic of Pakistan to the Republic of Azerbaijan

Pakistan and Azerbaijan are two fraternal countries. Close and cordial relations between the two countries are characterized by common cultural heritage, shared perceptions on global and regional issues and cooperation at international forums. Due to deeply entrenched affinities, both the countries cherish special bond of friendship.

Pakistan was among the first three countries to recognize Azerbaijan after its independence from the former Soviet Union in October 1991. Diplomatic relations were established in June 1992. Pakistan Embassy was opened in March 1993 in Baku and Azerbaijan established its Mission in Islamabad in August 1997. Next year i.e. in 2017 the two countries will celebrate silver Jubilee of establishment of their diplomatic relations. The cooperation between the two states extends to various spheres ranging from political, economic, security, defence to culture.

Pakistan has been extending unqualified support to Azerbaijan in its conflict with Armenia over Nagorno-Karabakh. As an expression of solidarity with Azerbaijan, Pakistan neither recognized Armenia nor established diplomatic relations with that country as yet. In February 2012, Senate Foreign Relations Committee of Pakistan recognized "Khojaly Tragedy” (1992) as genocide further reinforcing Pakistan support to Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan also supports Pakistan’s position on the Jammu & Kashmir dispute. Azerbaijan is a member of OIC Contact Group on Kashmir. Pakistan has also welcomed the establishment of OIC Contact Group on Nagorno-Karabakh and joined as a member. Both the countries also coordinate their workings and positions in the OIC and other international forums on all issues of common interests. Our two countries also support each other unconditionally and at times on a reciprocal arrangement on various candidatures in the international organizations.

High level exchanges have been and continue to be a regular feature between the two countries. Pakistan former President Sardar Farooq Ahmad Leghari visited Baku in October 1995. This was followed by visit of President Heydar Aliyev to Pakistan in April 1996. Former President General Pervez Musharraf visited Baku in July 2004 and President Ilham Aliyev paid a return visit to Islamabad in April 2005. In May 2005, former Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz visited Baku to attend 9th session of Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO). In October 2012, President Asif Ali Zardari visited Azerbaijan to attend 12th ECO summit in Baku. Present President Mamnoon Hussain visited Azerbaijan from 11-14 March, 2015. This visit opened a new page in the bilateral relations of two countries as two Presidents signed a Joint Declaration on Strategic Partnership between the two states. As a result of this visit the two countries agreed to establish joint ventures in all possible domains particularly defence, energy, infrastructure, IT, textile and pharmaceuticals. A direct Turkish Air flight between Baku and Islamabad became operational in October 2015. Pakistan offered 50 scholarships for Azeri students in the IT field. The two sides also concluded Cooperation Programme between Foreign Service Academy (FSA), Islamabad and ADA, University, Baku and MoU on the Establishment of Joint Business Council between Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce and Industry and Azerbaijan Chamber of Commerce and Industry. The two Presidents also co-inaugurated the First Azerbaijan-Pakistan Business Forum.

First Lady of Azerbaijan Madam Mehriban Aliyeva is very popular among the people of Pakistan. She was decorated with one of the highest civil awards of the country "Hilal-e-Pakistan” by the President of Pakistan personally for the humanitarian work of her organization "Hayder Aliyev Foundation” in Azad Kashmir and other parts of Pakistan. Baku State University awarded an Honorary Doctorate Degree to Pakistan President Mamnoon Hussain.

All this speaks a lot about close bonds of fraternity and affection that exist between the two people.

Cooperation in the field of defence has also shown upward trajectory. There have been high level visit exchanges between the two defence forces. Presently this cooperation is mainly focussed on availing military professional courses. In 2015 some 130 Azeri defence personnel received training in Pakistan. Similarly 36 officers of Pakistan Air Force attended short training courses in Baku. There exist a great potential in this domain for joint ventures and training. On 21st January 2016 Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif held a bilateral meeting with President Ilham Aliyev on the side lines of Devos Business Forum in Devos, Switzerland. The two leaders expressed satisfaction on the existing bilateral relations and agreed to enhance cooperation in various fields including defence.

In the civilian domain, Pakistan has been offering various courses to Azerbaijan since 1993. A number of civil officials have been trained in Pakistan in the field of diplomacy, International Central Banking and Commercial Banking, Postal, Customs, Railways, IT, and Business Administration. Azerbaijan Diplomatic Academy has also started offering some degree courses to Pakistani students through direct enrolments. There are some Pakistani students studying in Baku Medical University on a self-financed basis.

On the Economic and Trade front the two countries have signed more than 30 bilateral Agreements, MoUs and Cooperation Programmes. Pakistan and Azerbaijan also have institutional arrangement of Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) between them. The JMC has held five sessions since its formation in September 2000. The 6th meeting of the JMC was held in Islamabad on 26-27 April 2106.

There are great prospects to boost cooperation between the two countries in many fields. There is a need to encourage business companies of the two countries to intensify contacts and undertake regular visits. The present economic and trade relations between the two countries do not correspond with the existing high level political goodwill.

There exist a great scope for Azerbaijan to import rice, vegetable and fruit & fruit Preps, medical and pharmaceutical products, textiles and sports goods from Pakistan and at the same time Azerbaijan can export it high quality cotton, fruits, chemicals, fats and oil and non-ferrous metals. Cooperation in the field of Energy has still not taken off the ground. Pakistan is an energy-hungry country. The experts of the two sides are in contact. They needs to visit and discuss and explore the possibilities of cooperation.

Azerbaijan extended support to Pakistan during natural calamities. Heydar Aliyev Foundation regularly undertakes humanitarian projects in Pakistan. The Foundation under patronage of Ms. Mehriban Aliyeva, First Lady of Azerbaijan constructed a girls’ school in the city of Muzaffarabad, Azad Kashmir after 2005 earthquake and also extended assistance to Pakistan in 2010/2011 floods.

Before concluding, I would like to summarize the supports that two countries extended to each other since the establishment of their relations as under:

Azerbaijan:

a. Supported Pakistan on Jammu & Kashmir issue and has joined the OIC Contact Group on Kashmir since 2012.

b. Built a school in Muzafferabad after 2005 earthquake at a cost of US$ 1million

c. Gave assistance US$ 1 million each at the time of floods in 2010 and 2011 in Pakistan.

d. Carried out and continues small-sized humanitarian project in various parts of Pakistan.

e. Baku State University awarded President of Pakistan with Honourary Doctorate Degree

f. Azerbaijan supported several Pakistan’s candidatures for the international organizations/institutions.

Pakistan

a. Extended an assistance of US$ 1 million in early 1992/1993.

b. Started PIA flight at Karachi- Baku sector in 1993. The flight remained operational for few years.

c. Played an important role in the UNSC resolutions on Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. Supported Azerbaijan’s cause at all other international forums particularly OIC. Pakistan is also member of the OIC Contact Group on Nagorno-Karabakh.

d. Pakistan is the only country that has not recognized Armenia to date due to her occupation of Nagorno-Karabakh and its adjacent areas.

e. Pakistan offered and continues offering various capacity building and professional courses in civilian and military domains. Some of the courses offered are fully funded like in the fields of diplomacy and banking.

f. Foreign Affairs Committee of Pakistan Senate passed resolution on "Khojali Genocide” on 1st February 2012.

g. Gave a big chunk of land to Azerbaijan in Diplomatic Enclave, Islamabad where Azerbaijan has built its Embassy complex.

h. Awarded "Hilal e Pakistan” to First lady of Azerbaijan for the humanitarian work done by Hyder Aliyev Foundation that is headed by her.

i. Pakistan supported several Azerbaijan’s candidatures for the international organizations/institutions.

It is evident that relations between Pakistan are very warm and cordial. We share many commonalties and more importantly we share each others’ pains and happiness. The last two years have witnessed an upward trajectory of bilateral relations of the two countries. I tend to believe that this trend would continue and the two states would be able to forge more concrete cooperation in all walks of life. The friendship and brotherhood between the two people will in any case remain eternal.

I must add that I am now about to conclude my Mission in Baku. Since my arrival in this great country in January 2014, I and my family members enjoyed every moment. It was also a very pleasant experience to interact with youth of this country. I became more of a professor than an ambassador. I took regular classes in various universities and many young students became our personal friends. I sensed a great level of potential in the youth of Azerbaijan. Our best wishes and sincere prayers will always be with them.

I and my family will never forget the warmth, hospitality and kindness of Azerbaijani brothers and sisters. All government officials and people in the private sectors have been very courteous to us. We will always cherish good memories of great Azeri people. I and my family members are particularly thankful to Honourable President Ilham Aliyev and Honourable Madam Mehriban Aliyeva for their special kindness and consideration for us.

Long Live Pakistan-Azerbaijan Friendships and Brotherhood!

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