The political situation in Afghanistan continues to be one of the hot topics of the international political agenda.
Due to its geographical location, Pakistan is one of the countries that is most closely following the developments in Afghanistan.
We talked about the latest developments in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s policies in the global political arena and Turkey-Pakistan relations with H.E. Muhammad Syrus Sajjad Qazi, Pakistan’s ambassador to Turkey.
A new process had begun in Afghanistan under the leadership of Taliban, especially after the US’ withdrawal from the country. How would you evaluate this new process? Do you think the Taliban has a future?
The fate of Afghanistan will depend not only on how the Taliban choose to rule their country but also on how the international community engages with Afghanistan’s new political reality.
Any unrest in Afghanistan will have spillover effects for the neighborhood and beyond. The spread of refugees, drugs, weapons, and transnational terrorism from a destabilized Afghanistan does not serve the interests of the Afghan people or the rest of the world.
Currently, the most pressing matter is the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan. The dire situation in Afghanistan is probably the largest humanitarian crisis currently unfolding in the world and warrants an expeditious and coordinated response from the international community.
According to the World Food Programme, over 90% of the people in Afghanistan do not have enough food, and 23 million people are facing starvation. The next few months could be catastrophic.
Pakistan is hosting an Extraordinary Session of OIC Council of Foreign Ministers on the situation in Afghanistan December 19 in Islamabad. There has been an intensive and sustained diplomatic outreach by Pakistan led by the Prime Minister and the Foreign Minister, from Afghanistan’s immediate neighbors to other key partners, with a view to promoting the engagement of the international community to help address the challenges confronting Afghanistan. We believe the OIC’s leadership can help galvanize other international actors, and this Meeting will be a timely opportunity to consider practical arrangements and concrete steps to correspond to the humanitarian needs of the Afghan people.
The international community must put the Afghan people first. We have to take care that in denying Afghanistan access to its foreign reserves or international financial institutions, we do not end up adding to the miseries of the long-suffering Afghan people.
How would you evaluate the relations between Turkey and the new Afghani administration? Could Turkey and Pakistan play a joint role in the issue of Afghanistan?
Pakistan has always appreciated the role being played by regional countries, in particular Turkey, earlier in the Afghan Peace Process and now towards peace and stability in Afghanistan.
We understand that Turkey has been engaged in Afghanistan upon resumption of operations at the Kabul Airport. A functional International Airport in Kabul is essential not only for the humanitarian assistance to come in for the people of Afghanistan, but also for the facilitation of all those Afghans who want to travel outside the country.
As far as Pakistan and Turkey’s partnership is concerned, both sides have been working closely for the mutual objectives of peace and stability in Afghanistan. In the past few months, both countries have coordinated on humanitarian operations and safe evacuation of Turkish citizens and other personnel through Islamabad. We have also been coordinating efforts to draw international attention towards the deteriorating humanitarian situation in Afghanistan.
The cooperation between Turkey and Pakistan in the defense industries has gained substantial momentum, especially in recent years. Do these two countries have any plans to move their existing cooperation further to a military alliance?
You are right, defense cooperation between Pakistan and Turkey has emerged as a successful story in the relationship.
Both countries are confronted by common challenges and new and emerging threats, In an age, where unilateral sanctions, denial of advanced technologies and exemptions for select countries are used as tools to advance certain objectives, it is only natural that countries like Pakistan and Turkey come together and deepen their partnership through collective research and development and pooling of resources, including through exploring long-term joint ventures.
The military forces of the two countries also have an excellent relationship which is reflected through frequent joint exercises, mutual visits and training.
The 15th Summit of the Economic Cooperation Organization has taken place in Ashgabat, the capital of Turkmenistan. The President of Pakistan, Arif Alvi, has given some exclusive statements during that summit. Turkey and Pakistan also have such a wide range of cooperation in economy. Can an alternative solution, such as the trade between these countries being carried out from their local currencies instead of US dollar, be brought to discussion against the global hegemony of the US dollar?
Trade is an area – where both Pakistan and Turkey need to work together. The current figures do not do justice to the excellent political relationship between the two sides. Both countries acknowledge this fact and are working to improve bilateral trade. Currently, a Joint Scoping Study is being finalized between the two sides to identify new lines of products that can help boost trade.
Both countries also continue their bilateral cooperation in various International Financial institutions. For example, the Finance Ministers of the two countries met in Washington in October 2021 on the margins of the annual meetings of the IMF.
The rise of the Asian countries has heavily disrupted the balances in the US-centered multipolar world order. Where does Pakistan position itself in this new multipolar world as it is being established? For example, what is the Pakistani stance in the Belt and Road Initiative?
Asia is home to half of the world’s population. This is where the most dynamic economic growth, social change, technological advances, and human development have taken place during the last 50 years. This is where the course of history will be shaped in the 21st century.
At the same time, the Asian continent unfortunately has been afflicted by armed conflicts and instability in many sub-regions.
It is also being increasingly embroiled in the great power competition and confrontation. The seeds of a “New Cold War” are being sown. Geographical and maritime borders are being redefined.
The challenge for Pakistan is to counter this growing trend with more multilateralism and cooperation. Pakistan, for its part, is trying to break out of this geostrategic and geopolitical paradigm and is ready to partner with all those who share a similar desire. We have refused to partake in any power competition.
Our government has placed a special emphasis on geo-economics — expanding regional connectivity to bring about economic prosperity and development to our region.
We want to position Pakistan as an economic hub and melting pot for positive regional and global interests centered on economic security built on three interconnected pillars reflecting connectivity (for example, through China Pakistan Economic Corridor – a flagship project of Belt and Road Initiative), development of economic bases and most critically peace within our region and beyond.
Turkey, Iran and Pakistan already have some tripartite political mechanisms. Can the joining of an allied country, Azerbaijan, be brought into this tripartite cooperation?
Pakistan has a Trilateral mechanism with Turkey and Azerbaijan. The Foreign Ministers of the three countries met in Islamabad in January 2021, where trilateral cooperation in several diverse fields was discussed. A forward-looking outcome document was adopted. Similarly, there is Trilateral parliamentary and defense cooperation taking place among Turkey, Pakistan and Azerbaijan.
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