Polina Tikhonova •
As Turkey turns its back on the West and seeks rapprochement with Russia, Pakistan has formally asked Moscow to help stabilize Afghanistan. Turkey, Pakistan and Russia are pushing toward a peaceful world with Turkey backing Moscow’s diplomatic initiative to resolve the Syrian conflict. Meanwhile, Pakistan, China and Russia working together to achieve peace and stability in Afghanistan.
Amid a clear improvement of ties between Ankara and Moscow from one side and Islamabad and Moscow from the other and between Ankara and Islamabad, the three nations seem adamant about resolving one of the most pressing – and deadly – conflicts of our time: the long-standing Syrian and Afghan wars.
In addition to strong diplomatic efforts by the three nations to bring peace in Syria and Afghanistan, they are enjoying an increased military, economic and security partnership between them. Fresh off the news last week that Moscow and Ankara agreed on the sale of the advanced Russian-made S-400 long-range air missile defense system on his two-day visit to India, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan formally offered to mediate the long-standing Kashmir dispute between Pakistan and India.
Turkey-Pakistan partnership: partners that can make a global difference
Turkey and Pakistan are enjoying a strategic partnership, with their bilateral trade totaling more than $10 billion annually. In the past year, the improvement of ties between Ankara and Islamabad has been particularly noticeable.
Vowing to further strengthen their longstanding ties in a series of diplomatic visits last year, the two Muslim-majority nations have been working together on several energy and infrastructure projects. With many Pakistanis hoping to see Turkey as part of their China-Pakistan multi-billion dollar project CPEC, Islamabad and Ankara have also significantly boosted military ties in recent months.
In October, Ankara and Islamabad agreed on the sale of 52 Super Mushkak trainer jets and training for Turkish pilots to help recover the Turkish armed forces after the failed military coup that exhausted the Turkish military in July 2016. Erdogan’s visit to India, whose bilateral trade with Turkey is also impressive, marks his first visit to the country in the capacity of Turkish president. The last time Erdogan visited India was in the capacity of prime minister in 2008. By contrast, Erdogan has paid seven visits to Pakistan over the years of his presidency.
More importantly, Turkey supports the Pakistani position in the Kashmir issue, arguably the most essential issue for Pakistanis. Islamabad, in return, backs Ankara’s decision to retaliate against all those responsible for last year’s anti-government coup despite criticism from the West and accusations of violating democratic values by the Erdogan regime.
With a strong and ever-growing partnership between the two countries, Pakistan and Turkey are becoming a more visible and vital alliance on the international landscape. Through Russia, Ankara and Islamabad could not only resolve some of the most pressing regional issues but also help resolve international conflicts such as the Syria and Afghan wars.
Russia-Pakistan friendship: melting Cold War-era ice to stabilize Afghanistan
Against the backdrop of Russia, China and Pakistan holding a series of talks to achieve peace and stability, and Afghanistan, last week, Islamabad formally asked Moscow to lead the stabilization of the situation in Afghanistan, further elevating Russia’s role in the longstanding conflict and at the same time devaluating the role of the U.S. in it. The latest developments in Russia-Pakistan relations are especially striking, since Islamabad opted to seek closer ties to the biggest rival of its decades-long partner Washington, sending the U.S. a very clear message.
During Pakistani Defense Minister Kh Asif’s meeting with his Russian counterpart in Moscow last week, the Pakistanis formally asked the Russians to get involved in the Afghan crisis. In early March, an anonymous senior source within the Pakistani army revealed to the media that Pakistani military officials had earlier conveyed to Donald Trump administration that if the U.S. did not sort out the “total mess” in Afghanistan, Russia would.
But it looks like even Trump’s order to drop the mother of all bombs on Afghanistan last month was not deemed enough to resolve the Afghan crisis, which is why the Pakistanis are now formally asking Russia to get involved. Russia, China and Pakistan cooperating together to bring peace and stability in Afghanistan comes in the wake of a significant improvement in Russia-Pakistan ties.
In recent years, Islamabad and Moscow have managed to melt the ice between them despite being enemies during the Cold War era, having had tense relations over the past several decades and even despite Russia being the key weapons supplier to Pakistan’s biggest rival India. With the growing military, economic and diplomatic partnership between Moscow and Islamabad – and their mutual friendliness to China – the nations could bring Afghan families long-awaited peace.
Russia-Turkey cooperation: from historical adversaries to peacemakers
The next car on the “Friendship to global peace” train (with the Turkey-Pakistan and Pakistan-Russia cars) is the Russia-Turkey car, which completes the Turkey-Pakistan-Russia circle and raises serious hopes in both Syria and Afghanistan that the three nations – four, if China is added into the equation – could bring long-awaited peace and stability.
Last Friday, Turkey and Russia agreed on the historic sale of the advanced Russian-made S-400 long-range air missile defense system, a move that further indicates the significant improvement of Ankara-Moscow ties despite the two nations being historical adversaries for centuries.
It looks like the world is going through extreme changes, with past enemies becoming close friends in 2017. While that certainly opens the door for resolving some of the most pressing military conflicts of our time, notably the longstanding Afghan and Syrian wars, the U.S. cannot but be concerned about the growing role and influence of the Russians.
Turkey seems adamant in its decision to abandon ties with the West and give up its hopes to join the European Union and instead seek closer ties to Russia and its allies, which include Pakistan and China. The growing Pakistan-Russia-Turkey partnership is set to lay the groundwork for a more peaceful and stable world. With Russia and Turkey playing key roles in the Syrian conflict, and Russia and Pakistan being vital players when it comes to resolving the Afghan crisis, the new Pakistan-Russia-Turkey friendship raises prospects for a more peaceful future.
(Value Walk) | Image: joannaoman / Pixabay