Why Pakistan Is A Cause of Concern For Armenia?
Primarily, it is a regular supplier of arms and ammunition to the Azerbaijani armed forces since its inception as an independent nation following the break-up of the Soviet Union in 1991. Secondly, Pakistan is the only State which has not recognised Armenia, to show its solidarity with Turkey and Azerbaijan, since its independence from the Soviet Union.
In exchange these countries support Pakistan at international forums on conflicting issues, including its removal from the Financial Action Task Force’s (FATF) ‘grey list’ and Kashmir.
Pakistan’s partnership strengthened with Azerbaijan in 2017 when the former signed a contract for the purchase of 10 PAC MFI-17 Mushshak training aircraft, whose delivery was made in 2018.
Vice versa, Azerbaijan is also negotiating with Pakistan for the purchase of JF-17’s ‘Block 3’ variant, originally designed by China with Russian-made RD-33 engines.
This came out to be a road-block for both parties as any JF-17 deal needs a clearance from Russia before exporting it to a buyer country.
This will continue until China replaces the RD-33 engine from indigenously developed one.
There arises a question on why Pakistan is antagonised with Armenia and supports Turkey and Azerbaijan. One of the simple replies to this is that Armenia enjoys good relations with India, a distressing point for Pakistan.
It, thus, embroiled a tri-lateral relationship with Turkey and Azerbaijan to offset any growing association with its neighbours.
During the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War, Pakistan overtly maintained its support to Azerbaijan. It’s direct and/or indirect actions towards Armenia poses the risk of developing conflicting issue into a war.
Russia had rightly warned that the involvement of Turkey or other nations might spark World War III if the hostilities in Karabakh are not addressed.
The growing trilateral cooperation between Turkey, Azerbaijan and Pakistan in terms of defence ties would only result in a tense West Asia as their alliance would weaken Armenia until major powers like Russia stands tall for it.
Armenia’s position is more secure only because of the deployment of a Russian military base and its membership into the Collective Security Treaty Organisation (CSTO) and in the Eurasian Economic Union.
Pakistan is a staunch supporter of Azerbaijani position on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict, whilst Turkey provides training to Azerbaijani military officers at their institutes and give first-hand experience in combat operations against militants of the Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK).
To counter the alliance or to balance its position, Armenia needs to carry out more strategic alliances with Russia and others to hold joint military drills to enhance troop capabilities in war-like situations.
Armenia considers the cause of its defeat in November 2020 war to the trilateral alliance of Pakistan, Turkey and Azerbaijan but it feels that there is a scope to reset relations and normalisation.
To take Turkey on board, the first round of talks between Turkey and Armenia began in Moscow on January 14, 2022 with the possibility of launching commercial flights between Istanbul and Yerevan by the first week of February 2022.
Of late it is seen that Armenia is willing to amend its ties with Pakistan as well.
Armenia delivered a message to Pakistan to initiate a dialogue without contradicting its good and deep relations with India.
Earlier, Pakistan was not replying to Armenian overtures but with Turkey working on advancing the dialogue, it may soon consider the proposition of having diplomatic relations.
Time will tell whether Pakistan maintains its position of not recognising Armenia as an independent State to appease Turkey or would initiate dialogue on behest of Crown Prince Mohammed bil Salman who was approached by the former Armenian President in October 2021 to reach out to Pakistan.