The Pak-Türkiye defense cooperation formally came into being in June, 2003, with the set-up of the High Level Military Dialogue (HLMDG) forum. Previously, defense cooperation was taken into account under the Pak- Türkiye Military Consultative Group (MCG) formed in 1988.
However, as the 21st century unfolds, defense cooperation has attained a bigger picture in terms of political, regional and global paradigms. The U.S. refused to provide the export license for the helicopters’ engines and has halted the supply of 30 ATAK T-129 twin-engine attack helicopters to Pakistan. In 2018, the U.S. ended its military aid to Pakistan and financing for Pakistani officers through the International Military Education and Training Program (IMET). Simultaneously, in the same manner, the U.S. removed Türkiye as a developing partner in the F-35 joint strike fighter aircraft program for the reason of Türkiye’s acquisition of the Russian S-400 air defense system. Correspondingly, many disorderly conducts from the U.S. to counter China’s influence in the region tends Pakistan and Türkiye to get closer in defense cooperation for developing the ‘indigenous defense industry’. Today, with the dynamical military technology and power variance, the Pak-Türkiye defense case formed a multifaceted picture.
The 20th Century Stripes
In the post-independence era, both the Pakistan and Türkiye military proved to be a good actor in defending their national interests with intermittent intervention in governmental roles. Eric Nordlinger (Professor of Strategic Studies at Harvard University) briefly put forward the spectrum of these interventions and types of goals pursued. He classified the military intervention in three paradigms. The lowest level is of “Praetorian Moderator” in which the military remains ‘reluctant’ to take government control. The second level is of “Praetorian Guardian” in which the military is more willing to take political control usually for 2-4 years. The highest level is of “Praetorian Ruler” in which the military exercises exceptional economic and political control for preserving the status quo and shows no interest in returning power back to civilians. Türkiye military intervention lies in-between Moderator to Guardian in 1960, 1971 and 1980 coups. Pakistan military intervention lies in-between Guardian to the Ruler from 1958-1971, 1977-1988 and 1999-2008. Alongside these interventions, in common, both nations’ militaries have demonstrated a prestigious position and called themselves a ‘survivor of state’.
These spectrum of incidents demonstrate that from the date of Pakistan independence in 1947 and creation of Republic of Türkiye in the 1920’s both nations are facing a type of similar Military-Industrial-Academic-Bureaucratic complex. Pakistan’s military presentation of India as an existential threat allows the military to justify a handsome amount of budgets. Similarly, Türkiye’s military performance in the Armenia conflict and rebuilding ties with central Asian states under the treaty of Lausanne restrictions demonstrated the military as an essential actor.