Turkey and Pakistan are conducting a security dialogue in the city of Istanbul, in efforts to discuss and resolve regional issues, expand further economic cooperation and construct common policies.
Having begun today, the three-day event is the first open security dialogue between the two allies, and brings together scholars, journalists and policy analysts from both the Turkish and Pakistani sides. Amongst the topics that are being discussed are geopolitical alliances, trade, refugee issues, ethnic conflicts, national security coordination and social and national cohesion.
According to the Turkish newspaper, the Daily Sabah, Pakistani journalist, Ejaz Haider, was quoted as saying that "there are a number of issues which are common to Pakistan and Turkey. For instance, take the example of Syria, and you can have a comparison with what Pakistan has gone through in Afghanistan".
Another common issue are the equally deteriorating relationships Turkey and Pakistan have with the United States, which has increasingly marginalised both countries and their governments in recent years.
Haider said that "It is important to listen to Turkish scholars and share our findings as [to] how we look at the regional security issues as far as Pakistan is concerned," adding that Islamabad needs "political stability and economic progress".
Other participants in the dialogue discussed and pondered upon the unique geopolitical situation that each of the two countries are currently in. Hızır Tarık Oğuzlu, a political science teacher at Istanbul's Aydın University, for example, noted that Turkey has established a "much more dimensional foreign policy" since the early 2000s, upon the current ruling Justice and Development Party's (AKP) rise to power.
While Ankara gained some "strategic autonomy" by strengthening its relations with other powers such as Russia, Oguzlu pointed out that it never fully turned away or bade "goodbye" to Western nations. He theorised that, on the world stage, Turkey is a "second-generation middle-power country unlike traditional middle powers", and that now "sensitivities of non-Western countries are being taken into consideration more frequently".
Professor of Politics and International Relations at Pakistan's Quaid-i-Azam University, Zafar Nawaz Jaspal, asserted that, unlike Turkey and the Middle East, Pakistan and other nations in South Asia "did not enjoy the end of the Cold War … We remained in that tension." He referred to the rise of a power like China, a hegemon which Pakistan is a staunch ally of, and which has put Islamabad at odds with the US over the past decade.
Jaspal also commented on the possibility of cooperation between Turkey and Pakistan on nuclear technology, stressing that Turkey would not be able to be involved in that "because it is part of the Non-Proliferation Treaty and it can benefit from the Nuclear Suppliers Group."
He praised the Turkish military's "handling of nuclear weapons", though, which is a skill gained by its experience in maintaining the US's tactical nuclear weapons – as a fellow key member of the NATO alliance – at the Incirlik airbase in southern Turkey, over the decades.