The proximity of the spiritually bonded states, often reckoned to be a single nation has continued for more than half a century now. Both, Pakistan and Turkey have engaged into amiable political relations for the past six decades. It is noteworthy that during the massive Earthquake of 2005 and the catastrophic floods of 2010, Turkey was the first country to extend a helping hand towards Pakistan. However, with the changing waves in the arena of global and regional politics, diplomatic relations between Pakistan and Turkey are devoid of an economically symbiotic relationship. The significant geo-political status of these two states also account for the criss- crosses that marked the diplomatic pathway which leads to the maintenance of regional balance of power rather than reinforcement of ties. Transition of governments has also led to major re-orientations in foreign policies of the two countries. Turkey’s geographic location designates the central position to it among the Balkans, the Caucus, the Persian Gulf and the Middle East. Similarly, Pakistan is considered the gateway of Central Asia, West Asia and South Asia, holding ethnic affiliations with all kinds of nationalities leading Pakistan to be a strategically pivotal actor in the South Asian region.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s ruling Justice and Development Party (JDP) (AK) party might have felt a little less impressive victory in 2011 than that in the elections of 2007. On the other hand, a dictatorially mutilated Pakistan witnessed a faint wave of democratization in 2008 alongside a faltering economy. Pakistan encountered the open-ended foreign policy of the 11 year old centre-right conservative JDP. The Turkish leader in his second joint sitting of Pakistani parliament, was cognizant of the hostile political environment prevailing in Pakistan, the reason he stressed upon ‘political consensus’ and the role of ‘constructive opposition’. While linking both these politically mature traits with economic progress he ensured Turkey’s support for ‘fighting terrorism’. Pakistan and Turkey are standing shoulder-to-shoulder in order to curb terrorism, ties are strengthening, but Pakistan’s Gross Domestic Product growth is decreasing along with this while Turkey is witnessing an increase in the GDP growth (+9%). The rise in inflation in Pakistan is followed by a decline in inflation in Turkey. Despite this the Turkish premier expressed his desire for a joint investment in a third country during his recent visit to Pakistan. It is often believed that the post 9/11 economic cooperation between both the countries was mainly due to Turkey’s interest in Pakistan’s unravelling economy which had a lot of potential and the inflow of financial aid was a key target for Turkish companies.
The recent agreements signed between the Government of Punjab and Turkish companies has opened a new channel for economic cooperation. Turkey’s ability to construct some of the finest dams in the world is not being considered in comparison to Pakistan’s hydro-electric potential. Focus is inclined towards projects like solid-waste management, transport and communications, which tend to benefit the investor. The BRTS (Bus Rapid Transit System) seems to be an unsustainable gift by the Mayor of Istanbul (Kadir Topbass) – for whose drive in the bus with the Chief Minister, Punjab was brought to stand-still for a day. There is no assurance that these agreements would continue with the change in government in Punjab.
Being a Friend of Democratic Pakistan and at the same time enjoying membership of North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), Erdogan had supported the resumption of NATO supplies after the November 26 attack on Salalah check post, that is contrary to the aspirations of the masses and stance adopted by Pakistan’s foreign office after the attack which claimed the life of 24 Pakistani soldiers. His mention of the withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan by 2014 called for an Afghan-led and Afghan-owned Afghanistan without any allusion towards stability in the border regions of Pakistan. In a competitive international stage, the progress of countries is measured by their economic stability and prosperity. Bilateral ties that are governed by soft-power exchange may strengthen the bond between two states, but cut at the roots of symbiotic economic cooperation. In the case of Pakistan and Turkey, the ties have resulted in ‘one nation, two states, but antagonistic economies’.
The verbal content of this post was originally published in Jahangir World Times, July 2012.