Pakistan on Monday (July 5) conferred the Nishan-i-Imtiaz (military) award on Turkish Land Forces Commander General Umit Dundar as a sign of intensifying Pak-Turkey defence ties, with both sides agreeing to further “optimize military-to-military relationship in training and counter-terrorism domains.”
General Umit said that Pakistan and Turkey are inseparable as they have a long history of cooperation based on common faith, values and historical linkages, Pakistan’s Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) quoted the Turkish General as saying.
Pakistani media reports suggested possible procurement of armed drones, especially Bayraktar TB-2 that helped Azerbaijan defeat Armenia last year and greater Turkish investments in Pakistan were some of the issues that are under discussion between the two countries.
Pakistan has been importing its drones mainly from China, followed by Turkey and other countries. Recently, the country procured 50 Wing Loong II armed drones from China, which according to the Chinese experts, “would be a nightmare for Indian ground formations in high-altitude areas” considering India has limited capability to respond to such new-age stand-off weapons. From being one of the biggest importers, China is fast becoming a leading global arms supplier, with UAVs leading its foray into multiple countries, including Pakistan.
The deal had earlier been to co-produce 48 armed drones as the Pakistan Air Force (PAF) had claimed in a social media post on October 6, 2018.
Pakistan’s ties with Saudi Arabia and UAE are on the decline. Turkey is trying to project itself in West Asia as the counterbalance to Riyadh. So, Pakistan is getting closer to Turkey in a larger game being played out, Indian defence analysts have said.
In April, the Turkish Armed Forces awarded Gen Nadeem Raza, Pakistan’s Chairman of Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, the Legion of Merit for his services in promoting defence relations between the two countries.
Turkey is pushing to co-manufacture warplanes and missiles with Pakistan, in an attempt to get access to war technology from China. A deal would get NATO-member Turkey closer to some of China’s military technology. Pakistan builds its JF-17 fighter jets with China and is said to have adapted Chinese designs for its Shaheen ballistic missile.
Turkey sees nuclear power Pakistan as a strategic ally and potential partner in building its Siper long-range missile-defense project and TF-X fighter jet, media reports said.
Reports said Turkish General Umit Dundar called on Chief of Army Staff (COAS) General Qamar Javed Bajwa at the General Headquarters (GHQ) in Rawalpindi and discussed bilateral military cooperation.