General Asim Munir’s visit to Baku: An expert opinion
Baku, November 3, AZERTAC
Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, Asim Munir’s visit to Baku is aimed at enhancing military-to-military cooperation and defence collaboration between the two brotherly countries.
During the visit, COAS held detailed meetings with Azerbaijan's military and civil leadership including President H.E. Ilham Aliyev, the defence minister, 1st deputy minister and chief of general staff and commander of air force. The matters related to defense and security cooperation between the two brotherly countries were thoroughly discussed with emphasis on enhancing mutual cooperation in military and professional matters.
The Pak Army chief laid emphasis on enhancing cooperation in the fields of defence and training. He praised the high morale and remarkable standard of operational readiness of Azerbaijan's armed forces.
It is good omen that the political and military leadership of Azerbaijan acknowledged the continued support of Pakistan and vowed to enhance mutual cooperation between the two states and their armed forces to a new level.
Pakistan supports Azerbaijan’s position on Karabakh in line with the several unanimously adopted United Nations Security Council resolutions.
In this regard, Azerbaijan President Ilham Aliyev while meeting with COAS General Asim during highlighted the successful strengthening of friendly and brotherly ties between Pakistan and Azerbaijan across various sectors, particularly in military collaboration.
President Ilham appreciated the fruitful defense industry cooperation between the two countries and underscored the significance of conducting joint military training. Moreover, reaffirming their commitment to each other’s sovereignty and territorial integrity on the global stage, the Azerbaijan’s president reiterated Azerbaijan’s enduring support for Pakistan concerning the issue of occupied Kashmir.
President Ilham expressed optimism that COAS’s visit to Azerbaijan would further solidify the cooperative relationship between the two countries.
Moreover, Baku and Islamabad had close relations, and their cooperation is evidence of how strong their alliance is becoming. High-level military talks and exchanges were held by both parties. Discussions on military training, experience sharing, and defense cooperation were frequently covered in these exchanges.
Azerbaijan and Pakistan signed defense agreements that aimed to foster military cooperation, information sharing, and joint exercises. These agreements may also be further enhanced through cooperation in areas such as defense industry, training, and equipment procurement.
Azerbaijan remains largest buyer of defense hardware from Pakistan, such as armored vehicles, small arms, and other military hardware. Additionally, both countries expressed interest in working together on counterterrorism initiatives, such as intelligence sharing and joint operations.
The ongoing visit of Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, Asim Munir, to Baku has great socio-economic, geopolitical and geostrategic significance in terms of development of the newly liberated areas, infrastructure development, de-mining operations, mining exploration, military cooperation/joint military manufacturing, training, defense education, combined military drills, anti-terrorism cooperation, and last but not least, further strengthening of bilateral & trilateral strategic military cooperation with Azerbaijan and Türkiye.
Moreover, the visit of General Asim, has also specific diplomatic maneuvering/posturing because of increasing bilateral military ties between Armenia and India. Thus message is loud and clear that Azerbaijan and Pakistan’s close diplomatic ties and military cooperation is vital for regional peace, stability and prosperity.
President H.E. Ilham Aliyev expressed his satisfaction on Pakistan’s political support during the Second Karabakh War with Armenia which vividly reflects strategic importance of both countries’ diplomatic, political, economic and military cooperation guaranteeing regional peace and mitigating any external ill designs of dark forces mainly Armenia and India.
During a meeting with Pakistan’s Chief of Army Staff, Asim Munir, in Baku, President Aliyev praised Islamabad for its brotherly attitude, specifically for refusing to establish diplomatic ties with Armenia due to its occupation of Azerbaijani lands from 1991 to 2020 which clearly demonstrates Pakistan’s strong support for the sovereignty and territorial integrity of Azerbaijan.
Throughout the 44-day Parotic War, Pakistan authorities, including former Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee General Nadeem Raza and the Foreign Ministry of Islamabad, voiced full support for Azerbaijan’s position on the conflict, in line with the adopted UN resolutions.
Most recently, Pakistan has also extended its moral, political and diplomatic support to Azerbaijan Armed Force during its anti-terror to disarm Armenian army formations and separatist troops in the Karabakh region in September 2023. Foreign Ministry of Pakistan stated that Islamabad considered the Karabakh region the sovereign territory of Azerbaijan, and Baku’s efforts to demilitarize the region were within its legitimate rights.
In September 2021, the Armed Forces of Azerbaijan, Türkiye, and Pakistan jointly conducted their first-ever joint drills, known as “Three Brothers-2021,” in Baku. Both sides have also signed Shusha declaration. Obviously three countries are also jointly working for the joint venture of 5th Generation Hybrid Fighter Plane which would be regional equalizer in the days to come.
During the 44-day offensive operations, Azerbaijani forces liberated over 300 settlements, including the cities of Jabrayil, Fuzuli, Zangilan, Gubadli, and Shusha, from nearly 30 years of illegal Armenian occupation. The war concluded with the signing of a statement on November 10, 2020, under which Armenia also returned the occupied Aghdam, Kalbajar, and Lachin districts to Azerbaijan.
After the visit of Chief of the General Asim prospects of further strengthening of bilateral relations between Pakistan and Azerbaijan will be strengthened. His visit would be game changer in their bilateral relations in the days to come. 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 air force cooperation.
On its part, Pakistan has been assisting Azerbaijan in terms of military and air force training in Pakistan. Both the countries have been in serious negotiations for the sale of JF-17 Thunder-III with Azerbaijan which is now at advance stage. Both countries have been extending their expertise in modern warfare which proved terminal in the 2nd War of Karbakah.
In the past, former Pakistan Chiefs of Air Forces, Naval and General Nadeem Raz paid personal visits to Baku and extended their support for the mutually befitting propositions of resettlement, redevelopment, reinvestments, and reconstruction of all the newly liberated areas of Karabakh Region.
Furthermore, Azerbaijan Naval Commander visited Pakistan and met with Naval and armed Forces chiefs and discussed matters of mutual interest pertaining to regional peace and stability which has now further strengthened scope, domain and prospects of air force and naval cooperation between two the two countries.
Even Director General of FWO paid visit to Baku and explored various avenues of mutual cooperation in infrastructural projects, cleaning of deadly landmines and prospective cooperation in gold mining.
In the past, Pakistan and Azerbaijan signed the “Bilateral Military Cooperation Agreement” which consequently geared up military cooperation between two countries.
Critical analysis reveals that Azerbaijan and Pakistan hold relatively similar weaponry and military vehicle systems which would be common bench mark to proceed further. It is suggested that proposed military cooperation may also include regular military exercises between the comparable services of both armed forces. Exchange of valuable strategic information as well as common approaches towards the territorial armed conflict postures can be a natural extension in improving bilateral relations in defence.
There is an immense potential of joint ventures in the production of war drones, unmanned fighter jets, submarines, missile technology and light arms which should be initiated as soon as possible.
It is, therefore, important for Pakistan to seriously move forward for the imports of military equipment (fighter aircraft, tanks or rockets) to Azerbaijan. Azerbaijan’s Istiglal anti-material rifles and other small arms are also ideal for use in mountainous and tough terrains. Pakistan should consider including them in its basket given their competitive price, high quality and efficiency.
The two countries should also extend cooperation in the area of arms trade and develop a framework of sales of small arms and heavy military equipment according to the needs of each state in order to address the specific needs of the security sector. This framework can include bartering of arms based on “preferred customer” program, thus, reducing budgetary expenditures.
Dr Mehmood Ul Hassan Khan
Executive Director: The Center for South & International Studies (CSAIS) Islamabad
Regional Expert: Azerbaijan, South Caucasus & Central Asia