THE HISTORICAL BONDS
The fraternal relations between the people of modern Turkey and Pakistan go back centuries and are embedded in the common religious, cultural, linguistic, and spiritual heritage. For centuries, there was a free flow of ideas and peoples between the two regions, shaping mutual perceptions of a common civilizational heritage.
The Muslims of South Asia had a very strong sense of reverence and attachment for the Ottoman Empire as well as for its civilizational achievements. Time and again, they stepped up to extend all possible support to thwart any threats against the Ottomans.
When the Ottoman Empire was attacked by Russia in 1877, Hassanally Effendi, the founder of Sindh Madressatul Islam (located in modern day Pakistan), came forward to support his Turkish brethren in that hour of need. He organized a campaign all over Sindh to collect funds and other items for them. This was neither the first nor the last act of its kind, and the South Asian Muslims continued to closely follow the intellectual and political developments in the region.
The great poet-philosopher, Allama Muhammad Iqbal, whose intellectual and philosophical legacy left a lasting impact on the history of South Asia as well as that of the Muslim world, looked towards the lands of Anatolia for spiritual guidance, including from the great mystic poet Mevlana Jalaluddin Rumi, whom he called his “great master”. He was an ardent admirer of the historic intellectual and cultural achievements of the people of Turkey, and passionately followed the ebb and flow of the political destiny of the Turkish nation in the beginning of the last century. The emergence of a strong, vibrant and confident Turkish nation from the ashes of the Ottoman Empire gave Iqbal a new sense of inspiration. Indeed, one of the greatest poems of Iqbal Tule-e-Islam (the Dawn of Islam), was inspired in 1923 by Turkish victories, and is effused with the sense of great optimism and hope for the future of the Turkish nation.
This sentiment was not only confined to the political or intellectual elite in South Asia, but seeped down to the common folks in the towns and villages of South Asia, who viewed themselves connected with the political upheavals thousands of miles away - based on a sense of common cultural and religious identity with the people of Turkey.
This sentiment motivated hundreds of thousands of Muslims of South Asia – whether rich or poor - to donate their belongings, in many cases all of them, in support of their Turkish brothers and sisters, against the war of occupation by colonial aggressors. The revolutionary sprit of that age was epitomized by hundreds of South Asian Muslims like Abdur Rehman Peshawari, who abandoned their homes to spend the rest of their lives for the defense of the Turkish people and their lands during the War of Turkish Independence. The Khilafat Movement was launched in South Asia in this very spirit.
According to many historians, material and financial assistance from the Muslims of sub-continent provided much needed resources during the initial days of the establishment of the Turkish nation – a fact that is fondly remembered by every Turk to this day.
The victory of Turkish nationalist forces was celebrated throughout the subcontinent by its Muslim populace and inspired the Indian Muslim League in its struggle for freedom.
The founder of Pakistan, Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah was a great admirer of the founder of the modern Turkish Republic, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Quaid-e-Azam’s statements and actions in support of the Turkish War of Independence led by Ataturk, his recognition that Ataturk changed the course of history for the Turkish nation and the world, and his profound grief at the demise of Ataturk in 1938 are all reflective of his great reverence and respect for Ataturk. The founding fathers of both countries, moreover, personified quest for freedom and dignity for their respective nations and inspired millions.
These events and personalities helped crystallize the amorphous political ideas of universal solidarity; sense of unique historical identity; anti-colonial resistance; and a desire for political revival into a concrete conception of Muslim nationalism in South Asia - culminating in the spirit behind the Pakistan Movement and resulting in the creation of Pakistan on 14th August 1947.
In essence, the ideas, ideals and influences that inspired the very birth of Pakistan were inextricably intertwined with developments in the late 19th and early 20th century in Turkey.
THE BUILDING BLOCKS (1951-1960)
In this decade of friendship, the two countries commenced an exchange of visits at the leadership level and laid the foundation for cooperation in diverse fields. A Treaty of Friendship was signed between the two countries in July 1951 which was ratified by Turkish Parliament on 8th May 1952. This was followed by the visit of the Governor General of Pakistan, Ghulam Mohammad, to Turkey in July 1953. President of Turkey Jelal Bayar was the first Turkish leader to visit Pakistan. The visit was undertaken from 13-28 February 1955. Numerous other leadership-level visits further cemented the close ties between the two countries.
The compelling ground realities of the post World War II period brought both Pakistan and Turkey together in security alliances, especially Central Treaty Organization (CENTO), with its headquarters in Ankara. By joining these alliances in the Cold War era, both countries maintained the same vision of regional and international peace and security and supported each other’s vital national security interests. The military ties between the two countries also continued to progress during this decade.
This era also heralded strengthening of relations in the academic field. A Pakistan Chair was established at the Ankara University while Turkish language departments were established in Pakistani Universities in Lahore, Karachi and Peshawar.
TOWARDS NEW DIMENSIONS (1961-1970)
The highlight of this decade was the establishment of Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) between Pakistan, Iran and Turkey, which followed the trilateral summit between President Ayub Khan, Turkish President Cemal Gursel and Shahanshah of Iran Reza Shah Pahlavi in Istanbul in 1964.
The RCD, which subsequently became Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) in 1985, laid the foundation for a common regional approach for peace and development among the Member countries, and helped Pakistan and Turkey steer their historic relationship towards greater economic cooperation.
In line with the spirit of brotherhood between the people of the two countries, Turkey extended full support to Pakistan during the India-Pakistan War of 1965.
This decade was also marked by several high-level visits from both sides that added strong symbolism and substance to this ever-strengthening relation.
EXPLORING NEW HORIZONS (1971-1980)
Ties between the two countries continued to flourish with frequent exchange of visits during the decade of 70s as well.
A land mark achievement of this decade was the creation of a Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) in 1977. This allowed the two sides to explore new areas of cooperation, especially in the economic sector.
Since then, JMC has served as a useful platform for expanding economic and commercial cooperation with its 14 sessions, including collaboration in industrial and technological fields, exchanging information on export processing zones, shipping & shipbuilding, telecommunications, agriculture, petrochemicals, civil aviation and automobiles.
During the crisis in Cyprus in 1974, Pakistan extended complete and unwavering political support to Turkey. Pakistan also immediately dispatched a medical team, which was the first humanitarian support mission by any country to reach Turkey during the crisis.
TRANSFORMING TIES (1981-1990)
This phase in bilateral relations was marked by establishment of additional institutional frameworks. Defence Consultative Group (DCG) was created to further boost defence ties. This was later upgraded and renamed as the High Level Military Dialogue Group (HLMDG).
On the economic front, Pakistan benefited from Turkish experience of free market reforms pursued by former President and Prime Minister Turgut Ozal, who visited Pakistan in 1984. Both countries signed an agreement on Agricultural Cooperation in 1983 and an agreement on Avoidance of Double Taxation, in 1985. When President Kenan Evren visited Pakistan in February 1989, several agreements in the fields of maritime shipping, tourism, etc. were signed. During Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto’s visit to Ankara in May 1989 and in February 1990, agreements on Cultural Exchange Programme and Scientific and Technological Cooperation were signed.
In order to boost people-to-people relations, the Turkey-Pakistan Friendship Groups were established in respective parliaments in 1985.
DISCOVERING THE ECONOMIC POTENTIAL (1991-2000)
The end of Cold War and free market reforms reinvigorated the private sector and motivated entrepreneurs to look for investment and business opportunities at home and abroad. Many Turkish companies ventured into Pakistan in infrastructure development projects; such as motorway, canals, and harbours. On the commercial front, two important initiatives were taken. First was the creation of Joint Business Council in 1995, which brought together the Federation of Pakistan Chambers of Commerce & Industries (FPCCI) and the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey (DEIK) while the second was the establishment of a Joint Marketing Company in 1998 with the objective to undertake joint business and investment ventures in third countries.
The thread of exchange of high level visits continued to run through this decade as well. From Pakistan, Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto visited Turkey (December 1993) followed by that of President Sardar Farooq Khan Leghari (September 1994). These visits were reciprocated by President Suleyman Demirel who visited Pakistan in March 1995, along with a 150 businessmen delegation. Prime Minister Necmettin Erbakan visited Pakistan in 1996 while President Demirel undertook two visits to Pakistan in 1997, to participate in the extraordinary session of the OIC Summit celebrating 50th anniversary of independence of Pakistan and for the groundbreaking ceremony of Islamabad-Peshawar motorway project.
In 1997, as a result of the efforts of the then Prime Minister of Turkey, Prof. Dr. Necmettin Erbakan, the Developing-Eight (D-8) Organization for Economic Cooperation was established in Istanbul. The Prime Minister of Pakistan, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif, was one of the founding leaders who attended the Inaugural D-8 Summit in Istanbul. Today, this Organization encompasses an area inhabited by close to 1 billion people, and consists of major economies of the Muslim world with total trade volume of around US$ 1.77 trillion.
In August 1999, after a massive earthquake in north western Turkey, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan, Muhammad Nawaz Sharif visited the earthquake-affected areas to express the solidarity with the people of Turkey. Pakistan also substantially contributed to the earthquake relief efforts in Turkey.
REACHING NEW HEIGHTS (2001-2010)
During this decade, traditional brotherly relations between the two countries took on a deeper resonance in the economic and commercial realm as well as consistent and solid support in the face of natural disasters and its consequent human suffering.
In the wake of the devastating October 2005 earthquake in Pakistan, Turkish people and government provided generous assistance for rescue, relief and rehabilitation of the earthquake affectees. Hundreds of Turkish volunteers and dozens of Turkish humanitarian organizations participated in the post-earthquake relief efforts in support of the Government of Pakistan. Turkish contribution is especially visible in the rehabilitation projects especially in Azad Jammu & Kashmir.
The aftermath of 2010 floods in Pakistan also resulted in a spontaneous outpouring of sympathy and strong support from Turkey. Turkish humanitarian organizations working in the flood affected areas of Pakistan won the hearts of the Pakistani nation through their wideranging support to the relief efforts.
Exchange of high level visits between Pakistan and Turkey continued during this decade with focus on taking new initiatives to further deepen our mutual cooperation across all fields.
Building on the reservoir of mutual goodwill and amity and to enhance strategic cooperation, Leaderships in both Pakistan and Turkey decided to establish the High Level Cooperation Council (HLCC) at the Prime Ministerial level. The HLCC was established during the visit of Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Pakistan in October 2009. Since the establishment of the HLSCC mechanism, Pakistan and Turkey have signed over 60 Agreements/MoUs in various areas of cooperation.
STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP (2011 - PRESENT)
The past few years have seen the historic relationship between the two countries transform into a strategic partnership.
The 2nd High Level Cooperation Council (HLCC) was held in Islamabad on 22 May 2012, co-chaired by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Yusuf Raza Gilani. This meeting also resulted in the adoption of Joint Declaration of the Second Meeting of Pakistan-Turkey High Level Cooperation Council.
The 3rd HLCC Session was held in Ankara on 17 September 2013, and was co-Chaired by Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. The meeting adopted the Joint Declaration on Pakistan-Turkey Strategic Cooperation. It was also decided to rename the mechanism as High Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC) during the meeting.
The 4th HLSCC meeting was held in Islamabad on 17 February 2015, co-chaired by the then Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu and former Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif. The Joint Declaration on Strengthening Pakistan-Turkey Strategic Relationship was adopted at the conclusion of the meeting.
The 5th Session of HLSCC was held on 23 February 2017 at Ankara, co-chaired by Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Binali Yildrim. At the conclusion of the 5th round of HLSCC, the two countries signed 10 agreements and MOUs in a number of areas of bilateral cooperation.
Add details of 6th and seventh session of HLSCC
In continuation of the abiding tradition of both countries always standing by each o
ther, Pakistan was amongst the first countries to unequivocally condemn the coup attempt in Turkey on 15 July 2016. The leadership and people of Pakistan conveyed their strong support and solidarity for the democratic institutions of Turkey. Later, the two Houses of Pakistan Parliament adopted unanimous resolutions in support of democracy in Turkey, a gesture deeply appreciated by the Turkish Parliament and political leadership as well as the people.