HomePoliticsPakistan and Turkey Forge Strong Defense Partnership Amid Shifting Alliances

Pakistan and Turkey Forge Strong Defense Partnership Amid Shifting Alliances

Pakistan's defense procurement landscape has witnessed shifts in recent years, leading to increased reliance on Turkey for the enhancement and maintenance of its military assets.

Shafaat Yar Khan

Trade Minister Ömer Bolat delivers a speech during the reception marking Pakistan’s Defense and Martyrs’ Day, Ankara, Türkiye, Sept. 6, 2023. (DHA Photo)

Pakistan and Turkey, two nations separated by geography but bound together by a deep sense of friendship and shared interests, have been making significant strides in strengthening their bilateral relations, particularly in the realms of defense and economics. Recent partnerships and collaborative efforts have not only enhanced their defense capabilities but have also bolstered their economic cooperation.

This relationship is rooted in mutual trust and common strategic objectives. The two nations have engaged in joint military exercises, defense industry collaboration, and technology transfers, contributing to their military modernization and self-reliance.

In recent years, Pakistan and Turkey have deepened their defense cooperation through various agreements and initiatives. These include the joint production of defense equipment, military training programs, and joint ventures in defense industries. One notable project is the T129 ATAK helicopter deal, where Turkey will supply Pakistan with attack helicopters, further bolstering Pakistan’s defense capabilities.

Turkey’s Trade Minister, Ömer Bolat, has openly praised the strong defense relationship between the two nations. Speaking at the Pakistani Embassy in Turkey during an event marking Pakistan’s Defense and Martyrs’ Day, he emphasized the significance of their cooperation in the defense sector. Bolat’s words reflect the sentiment that both nations attach to their defense partnership, which has grown stronger over time.

Pakistan’s defense procurement landscape has witnessed shifts in recent years, leading to increased reliance on Turkey for the enhancement and maintenance of its military assets. As Pakistan’s traditional defense relationships have faced hurdles, Turkey has proven to be a reliable alternative.

Pakistan’s fleet of F-16 fighter jets, originally acquired from the United States, required modernization to remain operationally effective. Turkey has played a pivotal role in this process, offering expertise and support for the upgrade of these fighter aircraft, ensuring their continued relevance in Pakistan’s air defense strategy.

Pakistan’s aging Agosta-class submarines, initially purchased from France, posed a challenge in terms of maintenance and upgradation. Turkey’s involvement in reviving these submarines has been instrumental in extending their operational lifespan and maintaining the country’s maritime defense capabilities.

Both countries share concerns about regional stability and security, particularly in their respective neighborhoods. Their collaborative efforts in counterterrorism, intelligence sharing, and peacekeeping missions have contributed to regional peace and stability.

Pakistan and Turkey have made substantial progress in expanding their economic partnership. Their bilateral trade volume has been steadily increasing, with both nations exploring opportunities to further boost economic cooperation. Both countries are signatories to the D-8 Organization for Economic Cooperation, which aims to enhance economic ties among member states.

Pakistan and Turkey have been negotiating to broaden the scope of their existing FTA, aiming to include additional sectors and reduce trade barriers. This initiative is expected to create more opportunities for trade and investment between the two nations.

In his remarks, Bolat praised the two countries’ exemplary and historic bilateral relations, particularly their “flourishing” defense ties and “excellent” cooperation between their armed forces.

He underscored that the strategic and comprehensive bilateral ties between the two nations are an important factor in promoting peace and stability in the region and beyond.

“Today, we are proud of the current state of economic cooperation between our countries. Our trade relations have improved over the years. Since 2021, our trade volume has exceeded $1 billion,” Bolat said.

“The Trade Agreement, which came into effect this year, will boost our trade. Furthermore, we expect even greater integration between our economies. Currently, leading Turkish companies are successfully operating in Pakistan,” he added.

Pakistan’s strategic location as a gateway to Central Asia and the Middle East, coupled with Turkey’s strategic position bridging Europe and Asia, presents immense potential for enhancing trade connectivity and regional economic integration.

In a world marked by geopolitical uncertainties, the Pakistan-Turkey partnership stands as a beacon of collaboration and solidarity. As they navigate the complexities of the 21st century, these two nations are poised to further strengthen their bonds, contributing to regional stability and prosperity.

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Coverpage’s editorial stance.

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