At the recent UN Security Council meeting on the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict (which was convened at the initiative of France), India did not mince its words as it did with the Russian invasion of Ukraine: It boldly condemned Azerbaijan's aggression against Armenia, without asterisks. There is no need to mention the stance taken by Pakistan, one of Turkey's "sister states", together with Azerbaijan. But the attitude of Pakistan is of special interest: Not only does it not maintain diplomatic relations with Yerevan, but it is the only country in the world that does not recognise Armenia!
Pakistan is more Turkey than Turkey, then, Pakistan! We remind you that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, as Prime Minister, had launched "football diplomacy" with Armenia (back in 2008), with the then Turkish President Abdullah Gül visiting Yerevan in order to watch a football match with his Armenian counterpart.
Before the new hostilities broke out , Armenian Prime Minister Nikol Pashinyan spoke warmly of the prospect of normalising his country's relations with Turkey.
However, Pakistan has never considered changing its hardline stance towards Armenia, not least because of its excellent relations with Turkey and Azerbaijan. The former prime minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan, in a statement, referring to the Armenian-Azeri war conflicts in 2020, had threatened that "we can erase Armenia from the map", implying the use of atomic weapons possessed by the Islamic State.
A shocking statement reminiscent of Ayatollah Khomeini's statements against Israel.
Instrumentalisation of Islam
The reasons for the attitude of Pakistan, a country founded by the Muslim populations of India, and later as an Islamic Republic, lie precisely in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict. When the first Armenian-Azeri conflicts broke out in the disputed enclave shortly before the total collapse of the Soviet Union, Pakistan saw an opportunity to satisfy an abiding ambition: to assume a hegemonic role in Central Asia.
One of the reasons General Muhammad Zia-ul-Haq, the dictator who effectively “jihadised” Pakistan, had supported the Mujahideen in the Afghan war was to make Islamabad a point of reference for all Muslims in Central Asia, with the Pakistani general even envisioning its "liberation" from the "godless communist occupation". It was the period when Pakistan was the "guardian" of the USA in intercepting the USSR.
These ambitions did not seem far-fetched when the USSR was blowing the whistle, preceded by the "Vietnam of the Soviets" in Afghanistan, which was taken as a success for political Islam and as a "religious victory". The instrumentalisation of political Islam that Erdoğan indulges in today was done by Pakistan (although obviously in a more limited geographical context), which declared that it would never recognise the independence of Armenia as long as it occupies the "Muslim lands" of Nagorno-Karabakh .
Pakistan and Armenia
Pakistan constantly refers to the "ethnic cleansing of Muslim Azeris by Armenians", while calling the massacre of Azeris in the town of Khojaly "genocide", a truly horrific episode in the 1992 war, for which Baku has launched an international campaign for years, with Turkey of course, to be recognised as "genocide".
Pakistan consistently claims that the Armenians should "return to their internationally recognised borders", i.e. the borders that existed during the USSR, when Stalin ceded Nagorno-Karabakh (where the Armenians were in the majority) to the then Soviet Republic of Azerbaijan.
Pakistan never claimed a hegemonic role in the Middle East, the Balkans, or Africa, as did Erdoğan, who even envisioned a political reconstitution of the Ottoman Empire, which had brought him into conflict with the Arab World and Israel, opening fronts which are now slowly closing. Pakistan's goals have always been narrow in scope, focusing on Central Asia, having its own "frozen conflict" in Kashmir, which it claims from its historical enemy, India.
Of course, former Prime Minister Imran Khan's absolute identification with Erdoğan, as well as the balanced relations he sought with Iran, caused a crisis in Pakistan's relations with the United Arab Emirates, but also with one of the historical allies of the Islamic State, Saudi Arabia Arabia.
Pakistan has expressed dismay at the UAE and Saudi Arabia's overtures to its arch-nemesis India, going as far as to accuse them of being "indifferent to the oppression of Muslims" in Kashmir. Khan 's episodic removal from the prime ministership and his replacement with Shehbaz Sharif, whose family has historical ties to Saudi Arabia, resolved any "misunderstandings" with Riyadh, without of course disrupting Pakistan's relations with its "sister ” Turkey.
Georgios Lykokapis is a journalist and regularly contributor to SLPress. He studied political science and has a special interest focus on international relations, politics and history.