Turkey and Pakistan sign anti-terrorism pact
|Publication Date||22 January 2004|
|Cite as||EurasiaNet, Turkey and Pakistan sign anti-terrorism pact, 22 January 2004, available at: http://www.refworld.org/docid/46ef8798a.html [accessed 26 May 2013]|
|Disclaimer||This is not a UNHCR publication. UNHCR is not responsible for, nor does it necessarily endorse, its content. Any views expressed are solely those of the author or publisher and do not necessarily reflect those of UNHCR, the United Nations or its Member States.|
Mevlut Katik 1/22/04
A EurasiaNet Commentary
An agreement was reached in a January 20 meeting between Pakistani President Pervez Musharraf and Turkish President Ahmed Sezer over new bilateral cooperation in their fight against terrorism and organized crime. Musharraf, who has called for broadening his nation's democracy after two attempts on his life in December, visited Turkey to sign the pact. The agreement also comes in the wake of last November's bombings in Istanbul.
According to the January 20 agreement, Ankara and Islamabad will exchange "experts and intelligence" on terrorism and pursue a joint strategy which evidently includes a new level of political alignment. Turkish President Ahmed Sezer voiced full support Pakistan's efforts against terrorism and referred to Musharraf, who took office in a bloodless coup in 1998, as an "honorable brother."
Pakistan's Musharraf, a diplomat's son who speaks Turkish, pointed to the Istanbul bombings in a January 20 speech to Turkey's parliament. "Terrorism targets the Islamic world," he declared. Turkish authorities disclosed that suspects associated with the bombings had evidently trained at al Qaeda camps in Afghanistan and Pakistan.
Musharraf has drawn criticism from Afghan and other officials for failing to track down al Qaeda and for allowing Taliban leaders to hide on Pakistani soil. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. Nonetheless, Sezer praised Pakistan's antiterrorist record during a state dinner.
Some analysts believe that the government of Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, preoccupied with admittance into the European Union, wants to protect its citizens by keeping a closer eye on hazards in other Muslim countries.
Hikmet Cetin, a former Turkish foreign minister, became NATO's chief civilian representative in Afghanistan in late December. Cetin, who left weeks after the Istanbul attacks, handles political-military aspects of NATO's aid to the Afghan government. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. If Turkey can present itself as a dexterous player in antiterrorist coalitions, its value to NATO and potential utility to the European Union might increase.
As they court European Union officials in Brussels, Turkish leaders are maintaining talks with leaders from Arab and former Soviet states. Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad has visited Turkey in 2004, while Erdogan and Foreign Minister Abdullah Gul visited Azerbaijan and Saudi Arabia. The talks with Musharraf, in this context, may posit Turkey as a Muslim nation capable of brokering progress with nations throughout the region.
Musharraf seemed to enjoy his chance to express his anti-extremist record on a friendly stage. Despite dogged suspicions that his military has sheltered Islamic radicals, Musharraf has repeatedly promised to crack down on extremism and promote secular democracy. At the same time, he has jockeyed for diplomatic progress with India, its long-hostile neighbor.
With India making inroads into Central Asia, Musharraf may see diplomatic benefit in a stronger alliance with Turkey. [For background see the Eurasia Insight archive]. He told state-owned Turkish Radio and Television Corporation (TRT) that "Pakistan is a moderate Islamic state" and pledged to "defeat" the radical minority.
It is also possible that pacts like the one Musharraf signed with Sezer provide diplomatic cover at a time when much about Pakistan's agenda- from its justice system to its potential sale of nuclear technology- is unclear. If Turkey's pact with Pakistan involves surveillance and detention strategies, it could draw Turkey into controversial matters in Afghanistan and its other neighbors.
During Musharraf's visit, Turkey and Pakistan also signed four separate agreements calling for increased economic ties, preferential trade, and cooperation in banking and finance. Both nations clearly seek to draw on each other for commerce, intelligence, and diplomatic support. It remains to be seen how their joint antiterrorist efforts could foster or block these more upbeat pursuits.
Editor's Note: Mevlut Katik is a London-based journalist and analyst who has worked for the BBC.
Posted January 22, 2004 © Eurasianet