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Wednesday, September 20, 2023

Turkish Defense Minister visits Pakistan to conduct high-level talks

Turkish Defence Minister, Hulusi Akar has arrived in Pakistan today to discuss bilateral cooperation in security, defense, and regional issues with special attention to Afghanistan.

Turkish Defence Minister Akar will be meeting his Pakistani counterpart, Defense Minister Pervez Khattak, and other key figures like Defense and Production Minister Zubaida Jalal, and Army Chief Gen. Qamar Javed Bajwa. The talks will be based on defense, military, and security.

Just today Pakistan had announced the launch of its Turkish-made Corvettes on 14th August. Turkey’s relations with Pakistan have been deepening over the past few years, and especially in 2021 owing to the US and NATO troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

Today’s talks will be focused on Afghanistan given the current war-torn situation of the country at the hands of the Taliban. Turkey had announced to maintain its military presence at the Kabul airport for security measures, which has not been taken well by the Taliban since then.

In July 2021, Turkey hosted the Antalya Diplomacy forum where Foreign Minister Shah Mahmood Qureshi met with his counterpart to engage on matters relating to the US troop withdrawal from Afghanistan.

The Istanbul Process, or more commonly known as the Heart of Asia Conference has been a focal forum for discussions on the Afghan Peace process. Pakistan has been lauding Turkey’s approach in Afghanistan that is its support for a negotiated peace settlement.

Read more: Pakistan, Turkey to strengthen inter-parliamentary ties

Turkey’s influence

Turkey is the only Muslim majority country in NATO with considerable influence both in Afghanistan and Pakistan. Taliban have expressed their dislike for Recep Erdogan’s involvement but he’s deepening ties with Pakistan and Qatar, countries that recognize Taliban’s political legitimacy in Afghanistan, to offset that opposition against him.

With its renewed role in the region, Turkey may become the next influential country of NATO in Afghanistan at a time when the US is backing out, which may help it to crease out the strain in its relations with the US.

Meanwhile, Pakistan and US relations are on a downward trajectory, except for some key meetings between Secretary Blinken and Pakistan’s National Security Advisor, Moeed Yusuf, there has not been a direct high-level talk between the heads of the two governments. Turkey’s diplomatic ventures with multiple regional to trans-regional countries is surging its geopolitical significance.

In last year’s visit, General Bajwa had met Defence Minister Akar and said that they discussed “issues of mutual interest including regional stability as well as defense and security cooperation.” Meanwhile, Akar praised Pakistan’s role in maintaining regional stability. The details of today’s developments are yet to be disclosed.