Rusif Huseynov, Ziya Kazimzada l

Pakistan was among the first three nations that immediately recognized Azerbaijan`s independence from the Soviet Union in 1991 and established diplomatic relations. Over the years these relations have evolved into sincere and fruitful ties between the two states.

Twin problems: Nagorno-Karabakh and Kashmir

In the context of high-level development of the political, economic and military relations between Azerbaijan and Pakistan, the moral support of Pakistan(is) has always been highly appreciated in Azerbaijan. This support was obvious throughout and after the First Karabakh conflict (1992-1994) and most recently, during the Second Karabakh War. In April 1993, the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously adopted Resolution 822, co-sponsored Pakistan, demanding the immediate cessation of the hostilities in Karabakh and the withdrawal of Armenian occupying forces from Azerbaijani province of Kalbajar.

Moreover, Pakistan remains the only country in the world not to establish any diplomatic relations with Armenia due to the latter`s occupation of Azerbaijani territories during the First Karabakh conflict and one of few countries to have officially recognized the scale of the horrendous Khojaly massacre carried out by Armenian gangs against Azerbaijani in February 1993.

Such a fraternal and warm attitude by Pakistan always triggers reciprocal rhetoric and action by Azerbaijan: the latter, in its turn, has always supported Pakistan’s stance on the Jammu and Kashmir issue and recognises the region as Pakistani territory. Azerbaijan is also a member of the Jammu and Kashmir Contact Group and supports Pakistan in resolving its border disputes with India.

Closer cooperation in recent months

The close relations between Azerbaijan and Pakistan have reached a new level of understanding under the leadership of Ilham Aliyev and Imran Khan respectively. In one of the recent phone calls with Mr. Khan, Azerbaijan’s President Aliyev expressed deep concern on human rights violations in Indian-held Kashmir, stating “Azerbaijan considers Pakistan its close friend” and will “continue to support it” at every forum. The two leaders also discussed the coronavirus pandemic and shortly after, Azerbaijan’s ambassador to Pakistan visited a medical center in Islamabad to donate medical masks, food parcels and other equipment. Although small in scale, the gesture was to signify the axiom: Azerbaijan is Pakistan’s closest allies among the former Soviet states.

Bilateral cooperation and mutual assistance notably in the context of pandemic should not be surprised as it copies the goodwill practices from the early 20th century, when Azerbaijani oil tycoon and philanthropist Haji Zeynalabdin Taghiyev rushed to help the population of the present-day Pakistan amid the plague epidemic by shipping vaccine and food aid.

After the resumption of hostilities in Nagorno-Karabakh Pakistan was (again) among the first and few countries that expressed readiness to assist Azerbaijan politically and militarily. On 28 September, a day after the outbreak of another war in the region, Pakistan seconded Azerbaijan against Armenia`s aggressive policies and supported Azerbaijan’s territorial integrity that includes the Armenian-occupied Nagorno-Karabakh, which is in line with several unanimously adopted UN Security Council resolutions. “Pakistan stands with the brotherly nation of Azerbaijan and supports its right of self-defence,” said the Foreign Ministry in a statement. After Armenian shelling of the innocent Azerbaijani civilian population Pakistan’s Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zahid Hafeez Chaudhri, described this kind of actions as “reprehensible and most unfortunate.” Simultaneously, Azerbaijan`s top leadership also appreciated Pakistan`s cordial and unconditional support, as expressed by President Aliyev in his meeting with Pakistan’s newly appointed ambassador.

Pakistani flags across Azerbaijan

The unconditional support of the Pakistani state and people to Azerbaijan over the Nagorno-Karabakh issue sparked nationwide display of love and respect in Azerbaijan toward Pakistan throughout the 44-day conflict (27 September – 10 November). Pakistani flags (along with Azerbaijani and Turkish flags) became something routine and usual for Azerbaijani towns, especially the capital city, Baku, where Parcham-e Sitarah o-Hilal was hung from balconies, and on façade of the buildings, painted on walls, and placed inside houses and offices. Numerous private vehicles were decorated with Pakistani national colors. One of the most creative displays of this obsession took place inside a supermarket, which hosted the Pakistani flag (again together with Azerbaijani and Turkish) made with fruits and vegetables.

Seemingly and fortunately, the mutual relations, sincere, cordial and supportive, between Azerbaijan(is) and Pakistan(is), do not fit in the political pragmatism and realpolitik. The last two month proved that the two nations would maintain high-level ties in the years to come and help one another to solve domestic, foreign and territorial problems.

Rusif Huseynov is the Co-founder and Director of Topchubashov Center, a Baku-based think tank. He obtained his Bachelor from the Baku State University and Master’s degree from the University of Tartu. His main interests are socio-political developments, frozen conflicts, ethnic minorities, in post-Soviet countries, while his focus areas mainly cover Eastern Europe, Middle East, Caucasus and Central Asia. 

Ziya Kazimzada is an intern at Topchubashov Center and a junior Political sciences student at Baku State University (Azerbaijan). His researches focus on political debates in Russian foreign and domestic policy, as well as European politics.

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