February 3, 2021 Special Dispatch No. 9169

Amid Reports Of Increasing Turkey-Pakistan Military Cooperation, Turkish President Erdoğan Marks Launch And Construction Of Turkish-Made Warships For Turkish, Pakistani Navies

February 3, 2021
Pakistan, Turkey | Special Dispatch No. 9169

On January 23, 2021, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan gave a speech at a ceremony in Istanbul marking the launch of one warship for the Turkish navy and the beginning of construction of another for the Pakistani navy.[1] Both ships are being constructed under the Turkish navy's national warship construction project, MILGEM.

President Erdoğan said in his speech: "We know that we have a very serious potential [for cooperation] with our Pakistani brothers, particularly in the area of the defense industry. Pakistan, like Turkey, is in quite a difficult region and struggles with many threats, above all terrorist organizations. I believe that the two brotherly nations have very serious contributions that they can make to one another in the elimination of these threats."[2]

MILGEM – Turkey's National Warship-Building Project – Is Equipping The Navies Of Turkey, Pakistan, And Ukraine

The frigate Istanbul, which was launched on January 23, is the fifth such ship that MILGEM has built for the Turkish navy. Following an agreement signed in September 2018, MILGEM will build four Corvette-class warships for the Pakistani navy, construction on the third of which also began on January 23. Under the Turkey-Pakistan agreement, two of the ships will be built in Karachi and will enter the inventory of the Pakistani navy in 2023, while the other two will be built in Istanbul and enter the inventory of the Pakistani navy in 2024.[3] Separately, on December 15, 2020, it was also announced that Ukraine had signed an agreement with Turkey under which MILGEM would build Corvette-class warships for the Ukranian navy.[4]

The frigate Istanbul, the fifth ship built for the Turkish navy, was launched on January 23 (

Recent Reports Of Turkey-Pakistan Military Cooperation

Following the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War, in which at least 6,285 Azeri and Armenian soldiers were killed[5] in the fighting during the six weeks from September 27 to November 10, 2020, there have been reports of increased military cooperation between Pakistan and Turkey, though Pakistan has officially denied reports that its soldiers were fighting in the Nagorno-Karabakh War.[6]

Popular Azeri singers have recorded songs commemorating this military cooperation,[7] while videos shared on social media show Azeri soldiers referring to it.[8] Russian media have commented on the formation of "a new strategic triangle in Eurasia," comprising Turkey, Pakistan, and Azerbaijan[9] and reported that Pakistani and Afghan fighters affiliated with the Jamaat-e-Islami, Jaish-e-Muhammad, and Al-Badr movements under the supervision of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI) have participated actively in the Nagorno-Karabakh conflict on the side of Azerbaijan since the 1990s.[10] An article in a Pakistani Islamist daily recently outlined a framework in which the religious power Saudi Arabia, the economic power Turkey, and the nuclear power Pakistan could play an influential role in establishing a NATO-like "security council of Muslim countries."[11] The reports of Turkey-Pakistan military cooperation have added to concerns that Pakistan could help Turkey to obtain a nuclear weapon,[12] an aspiration to which President Erdoğan all but openly admitted in September 2019.[13]


[1], January 23, 2021.

[2], January 23, 2021.

[3], accessed February 2, 2021.

[4], December 15, 2020.

[5] The Azeri Ministry of Defence reported at least 2,855 dead and another 50 missing. The Armenian Ministry of Defense reported at least 3,400 dead., January 20, 2021;, accessed February 3, 2021.

[6], October 2, 2020.

[8] See MEMRI TV clip no. 8640 Azeri Soldier Sporting Badges with Flags of Azerbaijan, Turkey, Pakistan, Giving Grey Wolves Salute, December 28, 2020;, December 26, 2020.

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