TURKISH President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s visit to Pakistan has once again highlighted the warmth that has always been there between the two brotherly countries and remains unaffected by some transitory developments. During comprehensive discussions the leadership of the two countries has agreed to continue supporting each other on crucial issues and transform their relationship into a strong and vibrant trade and economic partnership.
Turkey has always been close to heart of every Pakistani because of unparalleled commitment and sincerity of its leadership to well-being and prosperity of people of Pakistan and unconditional support to the core causes of the country. The spontaneous warm welcome that the Turkish leader receives during his visit to Pakistan is reflection of the deep love and affection of the people of Pakistan. Prime Minister Imran Khan, departing from the latest protocol, went to the Noor Khan airbase to greet the distinguished guest and drove him to the PM House for welcoming ceremony. The talks of President Erdogan with Pakistani leaders and his epoch-making address to the joint session of Parliament have strengthen the belief that the mutual relationship between the two countries was unshakable and that Turkey is ready to go to any extent to express solidarity with Pakistan and provide meaningful assistance for its progress and development. The agreement of the two countries to extend mutual support on issues of each other’s core interest assumes significance in the backdrop of latest developments in Occupied Kashmir. President Erdogan won hearts of people of Pakistan by condemning the Indian move of illegal annexation of the occupied territory and draconian measures imposed there that have taken away fundamental rights of Kashmiris. Pakistan is also making frantic efforts to increase exports and attract foreign investment and the large business delegation, which accompanied the Turkish President, has intensive interaction with Pakistani counterparts on almost all aspects of economic ties including trade, investment and cooperation on tourism, military procurement, cooperation in other areas of defence industry to energy, construction, textile, food, livestock, import and export, airways, real state, tourism, consultancy trade, shipping, agriculture, jewellery, automotive, construction and production, tractor and engine, casting, paper production and on-vehicle equipment. There are genuine expectations that this interaction and understanding developed between the private sectors of the two countries would help boost bilateral trade to the mutual advantage. It is also expected that issues like imposition of protective duty imposed by Turkey on textiles would be resolved because, analysts point out, the existing trade volume between the two countries has dropped drastically from $1.08 billion to $792 million after levy of a protective duty on textiles by Turkey. Previously, the textile exports to Turkey were based on normal tariffs, but later Turkey imposed a very high 18% protective duty, leading to a decline in the textile exports. Turkish President has been lending an ear to grievances of Pakistan as demonstrated by his approach to the Karkey dispute. The intervention of the Turkish President helped Pakistan save a huge penalty of US$ 1.2 billion imposed by ICSID [International Centre for Settlement of Investment Disputes] as Pakistan had lost litigation with Turkish power company Karkey Karadeniz Elektrik Uretim (KKEU). Apart from increased potential for trade, there are also bright prospects for enhanced Turkish investment in infrastructure development, energy, low cost housing and municipal services (A Turkish Company is already doing wonders in the area of waste management in Punjab). We have been emphasizing in these columns the need for initiating joint ventures especially in the realm of defence production as the two countries, through research and development, cannot only meet most of their own defence requirements but also capture the foreign market. The statement made and sentiments expressed by President Erdogan during his address to the joint session of Parliament have also gone well with people of Pakistan as was also evident from enthusiastic response from MPs. Erdogan spoke from core of his heart in expressing complete solidarity with Pakistan in every respect. It is because of his sincerity and deep commitment to the causes of humanity in general and Muslims in particular that in Gallup International’s annual popularity index of world political leaders, President Erdogan has emerged as the topmost Muslim leader and the fifth most-favoured leader in the world. The visit of the Turkish leader has laid foundations for an intensified cooperation between the two countries and it now depends on the ability of our ministries and departments concerned as to how quickly they translate this understanding into practical projects and programmes.