NEW DELHI: The rapid production and proliferation of nuclear and missile technologies by Turkey have been a major concern for democratic powers across the world. It has threatened the peace and tranquillity of countries from the North Atlantic to the Middle East. A series of recent developments have attracted the eyes of the world on an emerging phenomenon wherein Turkish President Erdogan is banking on Pakistani nuclear and missile technologies to fulfil his geopolitical aspirations.
The latest development in the series is the 15" Turkey-Pakistan High-Level Military Dialogue Group (HLMDG) on 22-23 December 2020, which is the biggest institutional setup between both the countries on defence cooperation. Pakistan's Defence Secretary Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Mian Muhammad Hilal Hussain led the Pakistani delegation, while Deputy Chief of Turkish Army General Selcuk Bayraktaroglu led the Turkish delegation.
The meeting was part of a series of several meetings between top level representatives of armies of both the nations. The progress made in previous meetings between defence representatives was also reviewed and discussed. Turkish media reported that besides other things, much emphasis was laid on defence industry cooperation including joint production and procurement. Pakistani generals also met Turkish defence minister Hulusi Akar and Chief of Turkish Army General Yasar Guler.
Insiders believe that the meeting and the deliberations discussed during it were just the tip of the iceberg as it is part of a larger screenplay of sharing nuclear and missile technologies between the two countries. It is believed that Erdogan has personally requested Pakistani Army Chief General Bajwa for sharing nuclear weapon technology which Pakistan has reportedly agreed. The meeting was organised to discuss procedural aspects of the technology transfer that could take place and covering the process at the same time.
The Pakistani defence delegation visited Turkish defence companies including Bakyar (UAV OEM), TAI,HAVELSAN and ASELSAN. It also met top Turkish Army generals and bureaucrats dealing with the production of missiles and other aerial technologies. The list of such people also included head of Presidency of Turkish Defence Industries Prof. Ismail Demir and CEO of Turkish Aerospace Limited (TAI) Dr. Temil Kotil.
The recent seizure of a Chinese autoclave — a device that is used for manufacturing motor of very long range missiles in Kandla Port from a Hong Kong ship going to Pakistan's Port Qasim underlined the rapid transfer of missile technology from China to Pakistan. Experts argued that the type of autoclave seized is used in very long range missiles like Shaheen-ll, capable of carrying nuclear warheads. Pakistan has accumulated a large battery of missiles from China — the conventional ones as well as those capable for carrying nuclear warheads. China is also believed to be the country responsible for the transfer of nuclear technology to Pakistan and helping the country to build its nuclear capabilities.
Pakistan is rapidly transferring the missile technologies to Turkey and Pakistani scientists are helping Turkey build its capacity in the production of missiles. Scores of Pakistani scientists are currently working with Turkey to enhance its ballistic and nuclear capabilities. By brokering the transfers of missile technologies between countries and manoeuvring the dynamics of geopolitics, Pakistan has brazenly violated the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR) and non-proliferation rules.
Erdogan has been blatantly expressing his nuclear desires through his speeches and comments. Articulating his nuclear aspirations very recently in September 2019, Erdogan stated, “Some countries have missiles with nuclear warheads, not one or two. I, however, am not supposed to have missiles with nuclear warheads. This, I cannot accept... And right next to us , there is Israel, right? With everything, it is frightening."
It is pertinent to note that for decades, Pakistan has been a kingpin of the ‘nuclear black market and Turkey has been contributing to Pakistan’s business. Giving a jolt to nuclear non-proliferation, the nuclear black market of Pakistan led by Abdul Qadeer Khan helped numerous countries in sharing missile technologies, especially in the production of centrifuges. According to the International Institute of Strategic Strategic Studies, Turkish companies helped the gangster of Pakistan indulge in the business of nuclear technologies to covertly import materials from Europe and export the finished products to players like Libya, Iran and North Korea . Several media reports have also highlighted that Turkey might be possessing a considerable number of centrifuges made by Pakistan.
The next meeting of HLMDG is scheduled in 2021 and insiders have revealed that both the countries have set these targets to be achieved before the next meeting: fast tracking of missile technology transfer, capacity building of Turkey in producing centrifuges, purchase of small armed Turkish drones by Pakistan, acquisition on high-range Turkish mini drones by Pakistani Army.
In another important development, Lt. Gen. Sahir Shamshad of Pakistani Army met Lt. Gen. Wali Turkchi of Turkish Army in Ankara for the Second Round of Turkish-Pakistani Military Talks on December 21st, a day ahead of the HLMDG. Besides HLMDG, Turkish-Pakistani Army Military Talks is another important institutional arrangement between both the countries dedicated to defence cooperation and transfer of defence technologies. The transfer of missile technologies and UAVs was the central theme of this meeting as well. It is also believed that Pakistan assured Turkey of helping it to find new buyers of Turkish defence equipment after recent CAATSA (Countering America’s Adversaries Through Sanctions Act) sanctions imposed by the US. Turkey is afraid of losing its defence market after these impositions and has sought Pakistan's assistance.
Scholars argue that Erdogan sees Pakistani nuclear and missile capabilities as an important weapon in achieving his caliphate aspirations. The blatant transfer of defence technologies and equipment between both countries is now increasingly threatening the peaceful world order. However, these transactions have irked the western powers along with the Saudi-led countries which now are hurriedly dissociating from Pakistan and are planning to take action against it, making Pakistan a ‘pariah’ in the Islamic world.