From Familial Bonhomie to Strategic Handshakes: Reshaping Pak-Turk Relations Through Dialogue


Since its establishment in 1999, the University of Lahore (UOL) has committed itself to creating an ecosystem of learning and education which embraces the value of research and knowledge. The UOL, with its diverse student-body, world-class faculty, and a student-centric approach, has played a prominent role in producing positive, impactful contributors towards a healthy, progressive society. This, UOL’s top management believes, is an ongoing, never-ending process.

The University has endeavored to improve learning outcomes, promote a culture of research, and, most importantly, bridge the gap between policymaking and academia. To achieve all this, the University has established linkages and partnerships with national, regional, and global partners, simply because it believes that knowledge has no boundaries and frontiers. In line with its commitment to providing intellectual impetus to policymakers, the University, under the visionary leadership of Chairman BoG, Mr. Awais Raoof, felt that Pak-Turk relations could improve by establishing academic linkages between the two countries.

The University of Lahore, and its think tank, the Center for Security, Strategy and Policy Research (CSSPR), signed a series of Memoranda of Understanding (MoUs) with Turkish universities and think tanks. The three UOL partner Turkish Universities include:

  • Bahçeşehir University (BAU), Istanbul
  • Istanbul Aydin University (IAU), Istanbul
  • Istanbul University, Istanbul

UOL-CSSPR’s Turkish partner Think Tanks include:

  • The Center for Diplomatic Affairs and Political Studies (DIPAM), Istanbul
  • The Ankara Center for Crisis and Policy Studies (ANKASAM), Ankara
  • The Foundation for Political, Economic and Social Research (SETA), Ankara

These MoUs allowed for UOL and its partners to organize joint conferences, conduct research, and facilitate exchange programs on a host of security, strategic, and foreign policy issues that Turkey and Pakistan face. 

As a follow up, the University and CSSPR, in tandem with their Turkish partners, organized a series of conferences in Istanbul, from May 9 until May 15. The three conferences were part of the first-ever Pak-Turk Security Dialogue. A 20-member delegation, comprising some of the best names in the foreign policy and strategic academies of Pakistan, represented it in the Dialogue. The idea behind holding this Dialogue was to understand Turkish perspectives on regional security, identify common threats and opportunities, develop a usable security vocabulary, and give Pakistan’s versions on the evolving contours of regional and global security.

University of Lahore Delegation for the first-ever Pak-Turk Security Dialogue: May 9-15, 2022

  1. University of Lahore & Istanbul Aydin University: May 10, 2022

In the first conference of the Dialogue, organized by CSSPR and Istanbul Aydin University and titled ‘Evaluation of Regional Security Issues: Turkish and Pakistani Perspectives’, delegates from Pakistan and Turkey surveyed the entire spectrum of security issues in the wider region. Turkish delegates delved on economic, identity, and foreign policy issues that are effecting a series of changes in Ankara’s regional outlook. Pakistani delegates ensconced their thoughts in the wider contexts of unremitting conflict and the growing demand for regional connectivity. Participants from both sides stressed the need for both countries to cooperate on multidimensional issues, ranging from defense to trade to energy security. Also, they agreed that, going forward, non-traditional security threats will become more pronounced. Scholars from Pakistan said their country has turned a page against terrorism and militancy, and is fast-becoming investment-friendly, something which necessitates more cooperation between Ankara and Islamabad.

Conference 1: Participants from University of Lahore and Istanbul Aydin University: May 10, 2022

2. University of Lahore-CSSPR, SETA and Hasan Kalyoncu University: May 11, 2022

The second conference was titled ‘‘Transnationalism Vs. Statism: Generating and Consuming Security.’ Scholars from Turkey and Pakistan discussed wide-ranging issues and phenomena that are posing a plethora of challenges to states, including Pakistan and Turkey. They argued that ultra-nationalism, a return of great power politics, the rise of non-state actors, and the proliferation of emerging technologies are not only revising regional and global orders but also pressuring states. All this, delegates from both sides stressed, are increasing the prospect of instability and reducing that of stability. They agreed, however, that growing transnational threats merit an all-gamut cooperation between states like Pakistan and Turkey, who have what it takes to lead their respective sides of the region.

Conference 2: Participants from University of Lahore, SETA, and Kalyoncu University, May 11, 2022.

3. Two-Day Conference – University of Lahore & Bahçeşehir University: May 12-13, 2022

Wrapping up the Dialogue, UOL and BAU hosted a two-day conference titled ‘Turkish and Pakistani Perspectives on Regional and Global Security.’ Participants from Turkey and Pakistan, for two days, looked at how their countries affect, and are affected, by geopolitical and geoeconomic events in the region and beyond. They discussed the impacts of the Russo-Ukraine war, U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan, and the war of ascendancy between Washington and Beijing on their countries’ security and stability. While they underscored the importance of initiatives like the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), they were cognizant of the compendium of subversive elements that could impede them. In that, economic predicaments on behest of international financial institutions, climate change, terrorism, and technology-driven arms racing and strategic partnerships featured prominently. 

Two-Day Conference 3: Participants from University of Lahore and BAU: May 12-13, 2022

At the end of the Dialogue, UOL and its partners expressed their commitments to taking their collaborations forward, by producing research-laden works on how Turkey and Pakistan, individually and collectively, become important conduits of regional stability.

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