Pakistan and Indonesia have historical relations deeply rooted in mutual respect and support at the regional and global levels. Pakistan established diplomatic relations with Indonesia in 1950. Both countries celebrated 70 years of establishment of diplomatic relations in 2020. Pakistan attaches great importance to its relations with Indonesia the foundation of which was laid by late President Soekarno and his contemporary leadership in Pakistan including Quaid-e-Azam. Late President Soekarno provided unprecedented military support to Pakistan during the India-Pak War in 1965.
There is complete harmony and close cooperation between the two countries in matters of global and regional concerns such as Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament. There has been a marked increase in our bilateral support to each other’s candidatures for international bodies. Indonesia supported Pakistan to become the Sectoral Dialogue Partner of ASEAN in 1993 and later to become a member of the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) in 2004. It is supportive of Pakistan becoming a Full Dialogue Partner of ASEAN. Indonesia also supported Pakistan for the membership of UNHRC for the term 2021-23. Pakistan supported the Indonesian Foreign Minister’s candidature for Covax AMC.
Indonesia is among the top ten trading partners of Pakistan. The trade relations between the two countries have come a long way with Indonesia becoming the 8th largest trading partner of Pakistan in 2018. In 2020, the bilateral trade volume was the US $ 2.6 billion.
During the last few years, there have been a number of high-profile visits from Pakistan including the President of Pakistan (representing Pakistan at 5th Extraordinary OIC Summit on Palestine in Jakarta in March 2016), Chairman Senate, Governor KPK Province, Chief of Army Staff, Chairman Joint Chiefs of Staff Committee, Chief of Air Staff and Chief of Naval Staff. In addition, various Parliamentary delegations also visited Indonesia during the last three years.
Visit of President of Indonesia to Pakistan
The Prime Minister of Pakistan extended an invitation to the President of Indonesia to visit Pakistan in 2016. President Widodo paid a state visit to Pakistan on 26-27 January 2018. During the visit, he met with the President and Prime Minister of Pakistan.
Both countries have signed around 40 Agreements and MoUs covering all aspects of bilateral relations including political, economic, trade, culture, and defence, etc. Following mechanisms exist to strengthen bilateral relations:-
Bilateral Political Consultations
The MoU on the establishment of Consultative Forum at the level of Additional Foreign Secretaries was signed in 2000. The inaugural meeting of the Forum was held on 11-12 July 2017 which covered all aspects of relations and firmed up plans for the forthcoming visit of the Indonesian President to Pakistan. The second BPC was held in Islamabad on 26 Nov 2018 in which Amb Desra Parcaya, DG (AP and Africa) led a 12-member Indonesian delegation to Pakistan. The Pakistan side was headed by Mr. Imtiaz Ahmed, the Additional Secretary (Asia Pacific) MoFA. The next round is due this year.
Policy Planning Dialogue
In 2006, the first round of Policy Planning Dialogue was held in Jakarta between the two Foreign Ministries to discuss ways to improve bilateral relations. The 2nd round was held at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Islamabad on 10 July 2018. The 3rd round of Policy Planning Dialogue is due to be held in 2021.
For the Dialogue, the Indonesian Delegation is led by the Head of the Centre for Policy Analysis and Development of the Asia-Pacific & African Region, which is an integral part of the Indonesian Ministry of Foreign Affairs. The Centre is mandated to carry out research on important regional and international issues and make policy recommendations for the government. From the Pakistan side, it is led by Additional Secretary (Asia Pacific).
Joint Working Group (JWG) on Combating International Terrorism
During the visit of President Megawati Soekarnoputri to Pakistan in December 2003, the two sides signed an MoU to combat international terrorism. The second and third meetings of JWG were held in Jakarta in December 2010 and in Islamabad in October 2011 respectively. Both sides also agreed that the JWG meetings would be held biennially. The fourth meeting of the Working Group is due to be held soon. A fifteen-member delegation from the National Counterterrorism Agency of Indonesia (BNPT) held Bilateral Consultations with NACTA on 18 December 2019.
Preliminary Meeting for Security Dialogue 2019
A seven-member delegation led by Amb (R) Lutfi Rauf, Deputy to the Coordinating Minister for Political, Law, and Security Affairs visited Pakistan and held preliminary security talks at the Ministry of Defence on 8 October 2019. The two sides also signed a “Framework of Pakistan-Indonesia Security Dialogue”, for holding subsequent interactions between the Defence Minister of Pakistan and Coordinating Minister of Indonesia aimed at exploring cooperation in a range of fields including security, countering terror financing, violent extremism, and radicalization, maritime security, cyber security, intelligence cooperation, anti-narcotics cooperation, measures against human trafficking and defence cooperation.
Proposed Security Dialogue
The Defence Minister of Pakistan invited the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs of Indonesia for the inaugural meeting of the ‘Security Dialogue’ in Pakistan during 2020. Accepting the invitation, the Indonesian Minister Prof. Moh. Mahfud MD conveyed his readiness to visit Pakistan. The visit could not be materialized due to the Covid-19 pandemic. The new schedule is being worked out.
Cooperation in Multilateral Context
Both countries closely cooperate in support of each other’s candidatures in international fora. Both are members of international and multilateral fora such as the UN, OIC, NAM, G-77, Afro-Asian Conference, and D-8. There is harmony and close cooperation between the two countries in matters of global and regional concerns such as Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament. Pakistan and Indonesia along with India, Myanmar, and Sri Lanka are the founding members of the Afro-Asian Conference. Indonesia supports Pakistan for its Full Dialogue Partner Status in ASEAN. Indonesia also supported Pakistan for the UNHRC membership for the term 2021-2023.
Bilateral Relief Assistance
Pakistan extended significant assistance to Indonesia in the aftermath of the 2004 Tsunami in Aceh. Similarly, the Indonesian government donated over US$ 3.4 million for flood affectees in Pakistan in 2010. In August 2011, Indonesia sent a 19-member Emergency Medical Team to help the Government of Punjab cope with the dengue outbreak. The team treated thousands of dengue victims.
Indonesian government approved scholarships to 23 Pakistani students at various universities and Institutions in Indonesia in 2019 (12 seats at Master’s Degree level) at some of the top Indonesian Universities in Entomology, Microbiology, Pharmacy, Biology, Biomedical Engineering, Clinical Pharmacy, Information Technology, Psychology, Electrical Engineering, and Informatics and Computer Engineering. The students commenced their studies in September 2019. Airlangga University, Surabaya also regularly offers scholarships to Pakistani students including in Ph.D., Master, and MBBS programs. Around ten other students are already studying at Airlangga University Surabaya on scholarship. A few other students are also now studying in various universities of Indonesia including in ITB (Bandung), Gadjah Mada University (Yogyakarta), and University Indonesia (Jakarta).
The Government of Pakistan also grants scholarships for the Indonesian students in MBBS, BDS, and Engineering, under the Pakistan Technical Assistance Program. Moreover, various other Pakistani institutes also accord scholarships for Indonesian students and researchers, including the International Islamic University Islamabad, and the International Center for Chemical & Biological Sciences (ICCBS), Karachi. Over 200 Indonesian students are currently studying in this university on a self-finance basis.
Every year, the Government of Pakistan has been offering National Management Course (NMC), Senior Management Course (SMC), and Mid-Career Management Course at National Management College and National Institutes of Management, Lahore to Indonesian officials. Regular visits of NMC, NDU, AWC, NWC, and AMC take place.
Trade between Pakistan and Indonesia
The trade relations between the two countries have come a long way with Indonesia since operationalizing the Preferential Trade Agreement in 2013. Our bilateral trade has increased from US$ 466.5 million in 2004 to approximately US$ 2.6 billion in 2020, with the balance of trade heavily in favor of Indonesia. There is a good scope of further expansion of trade in the years ahead.
Major exports from Pakistan to Indonesia include cotton, know, seafood, articles of apparel accessories and sports goods, tobacco, articles of leather, cotton fabrics, textile made-ups, and copper scrap. Pakistan’s major import from Indonesia is Palm oil, which was around $ 1.5 billion in 2020. Other major products include coal, man-made staple fibers, paper and paper board, betel nuts, rubber, soap preparations, tea and spices, chemical products, organic chemicals, and motor vehicles, etc.
Indonesia-Pakistan Preferential Trade Agreement (IP-PTA)
Indonesia Pakistan Preferential Trade Agreement (IP-PTA) came into effect in 2013. In order to maximize Pakistan’s gains out of this agreement, a review process was initiated and resultantly in March 2019, Indonesia issued notification of the amendments in the Preferential Trade Agreement (PTA) between Pakistan and Indonesia, which allows additional 20 tariff lines for Pakistan at zero tariffs. These additional tariff lines cover products like Mango, Rice, Ethanol, Denim Fabric, Bed Sheets, Knitted garments, etc.
Both sides also agreed to kick start negotiations to further expand PTA leading to FTA. The First Round of negotiation was held in Islamabad on 8-9 August 2019. Dates for the second round are being finalized.
Pakistan and Indonesia enjoy historically close bonds as reflected by the Quaid-e-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah’s supportive call to around 600 Muslim soldiers in British Army deployed in this region (Indonesia, Malaysia) in 1945, who resultantly participated in the Indonesian War of Independence under Soekarno. Subsequently, in the 1965 War between India and Pakistan, two Indonesian naval submarines and their crew were deployed in support of Pakistan who remained in Karachi for almost two months. The defence cooperation between the two countries is regular, cordial, and multifaceted.
MOU on Defence Cooperation
Both countries signed an Agreement on Cooperative Activities in the Field of Defence in 2010. Pursuant to the MoU, a Joint Defence Cooperation Committee (JDCC) at the Ministerial level was set up. A preliminary meeting was held in 2017, followed by the first successful round of talks in Pakistan in September 2018. The second round was held in Jakarta in September 2019. The third round is being scheduled.
There are a few hundred families of Pakistani origin people living in Indonesia. Many of them are engaged in businesses such as restaurants, hand-knotted carpets, precious stones, textile items, and herbal medicines. Pakistani expatriates in Jakarta are also working in important positions in multinational companies and various UN agencies. They are contributing towards the development of both our countries.