"Regionalism is the new order of the world"
The interview of the Trend Agency and AzerNews with the Ambassador of Pakistan in Baku, Khalid Usman Qaiser.
Q: Islamabad was one of the first countries to recognize Azerbaijan - where do you place Azerbaijani-Pakistani relations?
A: Pakistan and Azerbaijan enjoy cordial and warm bilateral relations which are based on common cultural and religious values. Our two countries also share common perceptions on all international and regional issues. The two countries believe in and support the peaceful means and meaningful dialogue to resolve all disputes between the nations.
Q: What are your views regarding the expansion of bilateral relations between Azerbaijan and Pakistan?
A: The two countries have a Joint Ministerial Commission (JMC) mechanism in place. The Commission has met five times since its establishment in September 2000 and the 6th session will be held in April 2015 in Islamabad. There is a need and efforts are also under way to focus on the implementation of the decisions of the JMC particularly in the fields of trade and economy, industry, energy, science and technology, education, agriculture, and culture. Pakistan has been offering professional training courses to Azeri nationals in various fields particularly in defense and diplomacy. Bilateral relations in the field of defense are growing positively and hold good prospects in the future.
Q: Pakistan has been very supportive of Azerbaijan in the South Caucasus conflict. What is your view on the lingering conflict in Nagorno-Karabakh?
A: Pakistan fully supports Azerbaijan on the issue of Nagorno-Karabakh and we are grateful to Azerbaijan for their support to Pakistan on the issue of Jammu and Kashmir. As I said earlier, only peaceful means and meaningful dialogue is the way forward to resolve such conflicts.
Q: The group calling itself the Islamic State has been on the rampage in Syria and Iraq. Do you think that the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria poses a threat to the Caspian region?
A: I think that they now call themselves as IS (Islamic State) and not ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria). We believe in peace and stability in the Middle East, peace in harmony and maintaining the territorial integrity of the respective nations. You would agree that we live in a global village and anything happening in one part of the world can and does affects other parts of the world in one or the other way. In my view this calls for common responsibility of the international community to cooperate and extend help in addressing the root causes of various conflicts and resolving difficult issues like the Palestine, Kashmir and Nagorno-Karabakh.
Q: Turkey was hoping to join the European Union. That is clearly not happening. Do you foresee the formation of a Central Asian market developing down the road between Turkey, Azerbaijan and other Central Asian countries, including possibly Russia, Afghanistan and Pakistan?
A: Turkey and Pakistan are two brotherly countries and enjoy excellent bilateral relations which are, marked by cordiality, deep mutual trust and affection between our two people. Over the years our relationship has been transformed into a strategic partnership, with a strong emphasis on economic collaboration. Pakistan has always and will continue to support the aspirations of Turkish people to progress and development and to join the European Union. As for Central Asian market, you know that trade between all nations of the region is already taking place. Regionalism is the new order of the world. I am sure that with peace in Afghanistan many new venues of cooperation will be activated in both Central Asia and Caucasus region and beyond.
Q: What are the gaps as far as you're concerned in Pakistani Azerbaijani relations?
A: There are no gaps in our political relations. The leadership of the two countries, at all levels, enjoy very warm and cordial relations and there exists unanimity of views on all issues of international and regional rapport and there is also common desire to build mutual cooperation in all domains. Our parliamentarians also exchange visits and this will continue.
However, in the field of commerce, economy and trade, education, culture and defense there is a lot of distance the two countries have to cover to make them on par with the political good will that exists between our two countries. Joint ventures, business to business contact, mutual investments, participations in trade fairs, exhibitions, workshops and conferences held in two countries, exchange of academia, students and journalists are some of the areas we need to and we are focusing on.
Q: What role or contribution do you expect from Azerbaijan in addressing the regional terrorist issue, an issue that has for a long time affected Pakistan?
A: You would agree that terrorism and extremism are worldwide phenomena. No country enjoys any monopoly over or is immune to this scourge. This is a common challenge and can be addressed by mutual understanding, cooperation, sharing timely intelligence and helping each other. I am sure that Azerbaijan is doing its level best, and like Pakistan, believes that root causes of terrorism and extremism must also be addressed to make the world peaceful for our future generations.
Claude Salhani is a political analyst and senior editor with Trend Agency