Pakistan and Azerbaijan relations: 26 years of friendship to strategic partnership

November 16, 2018

Pakistan has strong historical, geographical and cultural relations with Azerbaijan and Turkey. The three countries have a common ideology, no clash of interests, shared views on significant world affairs and permanent need of each other to cooperate and assist in all sectors. The three nations consider each other as brother, so Pakistan developed deep economic, security and political ties with Azerbaijan and Turkey. Mutual relationships are not only beneficial but also productive. As a student of the geopolitics of Caucuses and Central Asia, I personally witnessed an article published in the ‘Express Tribune’ on Pakistan Armenia Relations. The writer seemed ill-informed and misled audience by trying to lay down the burden of tense relations with Armenia on Pakistan. download

The writer posed Armenia as civilised country and Azerbaijan as Conspirator, but he ignored the ground realities and facts. After the disintegration of Soviet Union, Armenian secret forces and local Armenian ethnic organisations started an undeclared war and massive cleansing of local Azeri population in 1992 and captured Nagorno-Karabakh and seven surrounding districts of Azerbaijan. About 700,000 Azeris were people displaced. Rebels self-declared its independent state with the name Republic of Artsakh. International community rejected their claim and recognised it as part of Azerbaijan. United Nations General Assembly passed a resolution on 14 March 2008 about Nagorno-Karabakh demanding the immediate, complete and unconditional removal of Armenian forces from this disputed area. United Nations Security Council also sectioned and accepted Azerbaijan stand on this issue and demanded the withdrawal of Armenian troops from conflict region by passing four resolutions((822, 853, 874 and 884)  about this issue, but Armenia did not implement it.

Armenia committed unprecedented genocide of Azeri population in Khojaly in February 1992. Armenian forces launched military operation during the night 25 to 26 February 1992. Local people tried to escape in the nearest villages under Azerbaijan’s control but in vain. Armenian forces brutally killed local peaceful people including an old man and children’s and arrested thousands of local people and demolished the whole village. Armenian army spared none of the human beings that were unable to flee Khojaly. Several independent sources have documented proof of Armenian brutalities and are eyewitnesses. This extreme fighting ended in Ceasefire in 1994. Now the ethnic Armenian has an illegal occupation on Nagorno-Karabakh after this ceasefire. The writer said that Azeris had done alleged massacres of Armenians in Sumgait in 1988 that led to the Nagorno-Karabakh war, which showed his complete unawareness from historical and documented facts and figures. He misleads the reader by saying that Armenia supported Artsakh and therefore, the Azerbaijan and Armenian countries have no direct diplomatic relations. However, he ignored historical facts of Khojaly Massacre and Armenian cruelties that are the main reason of conflict.

Pakistan is a responsible member of UN and always supported Humanitarian missions in the world, and raised its voices against human rights violation. So Pakistan has always condemned Khojaly Genocide by Armenia on all forums and it should not recognise Armenia as an independent state until it acts upon UN resolutions about Nagorno-Karabagh. Armenia is currently occupying 20% land that is internationally accepted a part of the Republic of Azerbaijan.

The Writer said Pakistan fear that Armenia recognition could affect his relationships with Azerbaijan & Turkey and pro-India stance by Armenia has led Pakistan to respond by pro-turkey and Pro-Azerbaijan stance. This is entirely misleading.  However, the actual reason is that one of the salient features of Pakistan Foreign Policy is to respect the sovereignty of other countries within their internationally recognised borders and protection of human rights. That’s why it condemns all states (for example India occupation of Kashmir and Armenian occupation of Karabagh) occupying land unlawfully and violating human rights. Pakistan has shown unconditional support to Azerbaijan on all forms to protect its rights under the UN resolutions. Armenia should respect Azerbaijan’s sovereignty within its internationally recognised borders as otherwise, this act is causing chaos in the region.

The Nagorno-Karabakh conflict has progressed from a regional to a global issue due to various reasons. Basically, The Caspian region is rich in oil and energy resources and Europe intends to increase tapping of these resources to reduce dependence on Russian energy resources. Two Azerbaijan’s pipelines of oil & gas pass close to Nagorno-Karabakh area. About one billion barrel of oil per day is supplying mostly to Europe. That’s why Russia is supporting Armenia and permanently keeping its 5000 troops in it to continue the sphere of influence in the region on a permanent basis. Different aims and priorities of Russia and Europe is also a hindrance to solving Nagorno-Karabakh issue.

Pakistan and Azerbaijan have joined hands for cooperation in different domains. This has led to more than six high-level visits of both countries in recent years which resulted in increasing strategic relations. So Pakistan has extended its ties in the military sphere as well as in the defence industry. Comprehensives solidarity of Pakistan at all forums with Azerbaijan has increased political antipathy between Pakistan and Armenia. The writer said that Pakistan and Armenia have neither any direct conflict between each other nor have they ever faced each other off in a bilateral dispute in the international arena. However, he ignored that Armenia baselessly supports India on its all direct conflicts including disputes even UN resolutions reject India stance many times in Kashmir issue. Armenia has given the vote against Pakistan on different forums. Pakistan foreign policy values human rights and special relations with Muslim countries, therefore, it would be difficult for Pakistan to abandon Azerbaijan in this challenging time.

Sahibzada M Saeed

Writer is International Relations Analyst based in Islamabad.