The Man Who Steered His Nation to the Pinnacles of Glory

 8Sabah Aslam

The name of Mr. Heydar Aliyev is progressively linked with the socio-political, economic and cultural uplift of the people of Azerbaijan, who has been able to leave indelible marks to change the successful course of history into the very lap of his nation, which is indisputably indebted to his unflinching efforts for the people of Azerbaijan.  He was a leader of the nation providing them hope and optimism in the era of despair and distrust. With his wise and foresighted policies, the great Azerbaijani leader has become an icon of honour, the architect of what Azerbaijan is today; independent, economically developed and strategically important amongst community of nations. President Heydar Aliyev was instrumental in playing an indispensable role in keeping the country united, independent and sailing smoothly on a steady path of economic development. Being a charismatic leader with impressive grasp of politics, he made all efforts to make his country important in the eyes of the west and equally secure relations with the east. Soon after becoming President of the country, the visionary leader was able to elevate the country’s status as an important global player.

Mr. Heydar Aliyev was born on 10 May 1923 in Nakhchivan city of Azerbaijan. Having started his professional carrier from Internal Affairs Division he later got shifted to the state security bodies where raised up to the chairman level in1967. In July, 1969 Mr. Aliyev became the head of the Azerbaijan SSR and in December 1982, First Vice Prime Minister of the USSR. He resigned from this post in October 1987, as a sign of protest against the policy pursued by Communist Party.

On 20 January, 1990 Soviet troops stormed Baku killing unarmed civilians, who raised their voices against injustice made to them  Central Government. On the next day, Mr. H.Aliyev reached Azerbaijani Representation in Moscow and in his statement demanded to punish the organizers and perpetrators of this crime. In July, 1990, Mr. Aliyev was elected a member of Azerbaijan USSR Parliament and lead the Nakhchivan Autonomous Republic’s Assembly.   Protesting the hypocritical policy of USSR leadership on Nagorno-Karabakh problem, in July 1991 Mr. Aliyev terminated his membership in the Communist Party.

On 15 June 1993, the day Mr. Heydar Aliyev assumed leadership at the persistent requests of the people at a time when the political, economic and social crisis of Azerbaijan’s independence brought it the brink of civil war. Mr. Heydar Aliyev was twice, on 03 October, 1993 and October 11, 1998, elected a President of Azerbaijan with overwhelming majority. The first years of Heydar Aliyev’s presidential tenure were most crucial. He became a President of the country with collapsed economy, internal and foreign rivals, with a neighboring Armenia occupying the districts of the unguarded country. In a short span of time, Mr. Aliyev formed a National Army, which was able not only to halt aggression but also liberate a significant part of the occupied lands.

One of the main achievements of Mr. Heydar Aliyev that paved way to the economic revival of the country was his oil strategy. It was based on making politically stable Azerbaijan with further attraction of the Western capital to the exploration of the huge on- and off-shore hydrocarbon reserves of the country and transportation them to the World markets via diversified routes.

On September 20, 1994, the oil contract, later called a “Contract of Century”, was signed with the Western oil companies in Baku. Neither coup attempt nor outside and inside pressures could break a will of the Azerbaijani leader.  This contract instilled a confidence to those who were full of doubts about the future of the newly born Republic.

As a part of the strategy it was decided to transport the hydrocarbons through different routes. Thus the Baku-Novorossiysk (Russia), Baku-Supsa (Georgia) oil pipelines were commissioned. Agreement for construction of Baku-Tbilisi-Jeyhan oil and Baku-Tbilisi- Erzurum gas pipe-lines were also reached. Thus, Mr. Aliyev undertook the next important step for ensuring long-term political and economic interests of Azerbaijan.
The visionary Azerbaijani leader took active steps for making country a regional transport hub as well. An ambitious interstate programme TRACECA aimed at supporting the political development in Black Sea, Caucasus and Central Asia by means of development of the international transport.
The successful integration into the global economy, economic liberalization in the country, Azerbaijan’s growing credit rating, the annually increasing state budget and foreign exchange reserves are strong indications of a stable economy built by Mr. Aliyev since 1993. Development of the non-oil sector is also a result of President Aliyev’s vision. By handing over the land to private ownership, Mr. Aliyev ensured the country’s food security.

Construction of a democratic, law-governed state, development of civil society, return to the national and spiritual values as well as development of science, education and culture in Azerbaijan are forever linked with the name of late president of Azerbaijan. The adoption of the Constitution and the principle of powers separation, the alignment of the legal framework and national laws with international standards are integral parts of the program implemented under the leadership of Mr. Heydar Aliyev.

As a result of Mr. Aliyev’s activity, Azerbaijan, capitalizing on its geo-strategic, economic and cultural potential, started to play the role of a reliable bridge between the East and the West and become one of the most dynamic economies in the world.Leader of Azerbaijan introduced a balanced foreign policy, based on the interests of the country. Azerbaijan got integrated into the political structures of the East and West both. His successful foreign policy contributed to the growing international authority of the country, which is now perceived as a reliable partner, and to its promotion as a reformist and ambitious state. That was also during the presidential tenure of Mr. Heydar Aliyev when Islamic values, which were not much welcomed during the Soviet era, started developing. Construction of new mosques, reconstruction of shrines, setting Islamic education institutions goes to his credit.

The establishment of Pakistan – Azerbaijan relations is also linked with the name of Mr. Heydar Aliyev. His meetings with the then President of Pakistan Mr. Farooq Ahmad Khan Leghari and the Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in1995 and 1996 accordingly, and agreements reached during the visits, formed a base of these ties.

President Aliyev passed away in on 12 December, 2003. People of Azerbaijan highly value the legacy of their National Leader. 15 June, the day when Mr. Heydar Aliyev returned to Baku is celebrated as a National Salvation Day. Heydar Aliyev Foundation lead by First Lady of Azerbaijan, Goodwill Ambassador of UNESCO and ISESCO, Mrs. Mehriban Aliyeva with the main goal to implement large-scale projects and programs in line with the late President’s ideas of Azerbaijan’s progress was established on 10 May, 2004. In the framework of Foundation’s activity abroad, the number of projects in education, health, humanitarians’ fields in all provinces of Pakistan were implemented.

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