Pak-Azerbaijan Military & End Game in South Caucasus

Baku, July 1, AZERTAC

Rapidly changing geopolitical and geostrategic trends have encouraged many regional as well trans-regional countries to forge strategic partnership in term of security, sovereignty and services. Moreover, ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict has further enhanced the prospects of forming collective security shield. In this regard, Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Turkiye are gradually moving in this direction. These countries have already formed a trilateral strategic dialogue.

Most recently, Azerbaijan Armed Forces Day has commemorated on June 26. In this regard, several events were held in the Army Corps, formations, and special educational institutions of the Azerbaijan Army.

At the events, the memory of national leader of the Azerbaijani people Heydar Aliyev and martyrs, who sacrificed their lives for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan, was honored with observing a minute of silence. In this connection, Azerbaijan launched another Commando Unit of the Armed Forces in liberated Kalbajar district with the participation of President Ilham Aliyev.

On the other hand, it seems that military cooperation is getting momentum between two strategic partners, Pakistan and Azerbaijan. On June 29, Pakistan Air Chief Zaheer Ahmad Babar Sidhu visited the Ministry of Defense of the Republic of Azerbaijan and met with Colonel General Zakir Hasanov. Both sides stressed that bilateral relations should be further strengthened in terms of military cooperation between two countries.

It seems that after the visit of Chief of the Army Staff General Qamar Javed Bajwa prospects of further strengthening of bilateral relations between Pakistan and Azerbaijan have been further brightened and streamlined.

His visit has now proved game changer in their bilateral relations. It hopes that bilateral relations would be further strengthened in diverse sectors of economy, politics, investments, food & energy cooperation, military cooperation, joint drills, training and last but not least naval & air force cooperation.

Pakistan and Azerbaijan being strategic allies share common historic, cultural and religious values. The relationship between the two countries has covered economic, defence, political and diplomatic cooperation since Azerbaijan’s independence. Military and defence cooperation between Azerbaijan-Pakistan is signified by continuous dialogue in the form of high-level meetings, workgroups and other similar interactions between the respective bodies and institutions of both states.

Expressing gratitude for the warm reception, the Air Chief of Pakistan emphasized that there are historically friendly ties between the peoples of the two countries. It was noted that Azerbaijani-Pakistani relations have expanded in various directions and strengthened significantly and that there is a great potential for bilateral military cooperation.

During the meeting, the both sides discussed issues of further expansion of relations between Azerbaijan and Pakistan in the military, military-technical, and military-educational spheres.

Pakistan Air Force Chief expressed great satisfaction with his visit to Azerbaijan and stressed the importance of holding such meetings and expanding mutual ties in strengthening relations between the countries. The meeting also discussed conducting joint exercises and other issues of mutual interest.

The “Three Brothers-2021” exercise was kicked off in Baku with a solemn opening ceremony in which Azerbaijan, Pakistan and Turkiye rigorously participated.

According to reliable diplomatic and martial sources Pakistan desires to seek armed drones “Bayraktar TB-2” from Turkiye and is looking to deepen the already strong bilateral cooperation, especially in the defence arena, even with Azerbaijan. Thus trilateral military cooperation in terms of drone procurement and production is on the rise.

Interestingly, there are strong politico-military ties between Azerbaijan and Pakistan. However, the cooperation should be further streamlined and systemized beyond the already customary military personnel trainings, ad common military exercises and mutual visits and discussions.

Critical analysis of military cooperation of both countries reveal that since 2007, Azerbaijan has been showing keen interest in importing the JF-17 multi-role fighters from Pakistan. It is also interested in diversifying its portfolio of arms purchases from the latter. It is, therefore, strategically and economically important for both countries to prepare comprehensive road map for further strengthening of military cooperation.

Azerbaijan has also showed keen interest to buy JF-17 Thunder Block-III which is the state-of-the art warplane with element of affordability. It has the latest radar system, weaponry/electronic gadgetry and new engine etc. It is indeed a light weight multirole fighter plane.

It has immense modern technologies like new and large holo-graphic wide-angle head display, integrated cockpit display, advanced infrared missile approach warning system. So acquisition of JF-17 Thunder will further improve air defence and air superiority of Azerbaijan which may be used for strike and attack missions having smart dumb bombs, missile which can even carry nuclear arsenals.

JF-17 Block-III salient features does not confine to superior situational edge, combat facilities, PL-15 missile, high fuel capacity, modern engine RD-33 MK, advanced active radar system, price 20-25 US Million whereas, MIG-35 & SU-35 range 65-75 US Million, stealth technology (combat aircraft magazine), much better warplane than MIG-35 in dog-fight, and last but not least, double seated.

It would be valuable to reiterate future strategic military cooperation in a bilateral agreement which can solidify political will between the two countries. Annual regular meetings between Working Groups should now lead to a combined military and defence cooperation committee of equal participation to deal with all aspects of the security sectors’ cooperation; and be able to implement strategic provisions of the proposed bilateral military cooperation agreement.

To conclude, a new end game has been started in South Caucasus Region. The ongoing Russia-Ukraine war, NATO Eastern march and heavy military presence of the NATO in the waters of Black Sea and expected inclusion of Ukraine in the EU has started and staged Phase-II of end game in South Caucasus due to which the Republic of Azerbaijan should be more vigilant, tactically prepared and militarily modernized to protect its vested interests. The policy makers of Azerbaijan should consider Pakistan as its strategic partner and trustworthy military partner along with Turkiye. Strong military cooperation will be a balancing act and catalyst for strategic deterrence.

Dr. Mehmood Ul Hassan

Director of the Center for South Asia & International Studies (CSAIS) Islamabad, Regional Expert: Azerbaijan & South Caucasus

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