Pakistan, Turkey vow to forge closer ties
ISLAMABAD/ANKARA – Pakistan and Turkey yesterday resolved to take their historic relations to new heights by forging closer than ever bonds in areas of education, health, trade and defence.
Significantly, they agreed to adopt unified positions in areas of foreign relations and regional security, and hold a trilateral meeting in Istanbul geared toward bringing peace to Afghanistan.
“Turkey stands with Pakistan today and tomorrow, as it did yesterday, and will continue to stand with it,” Turkish President Erdogan told a joint news conference with Prime Minister Imran Khan, who was on a two-day official visit to Turkey.
“Pakistani brothers” also stand in strong solidarity with Ankara, he said, speaking after one-to-one and delegations level meetings at the presidential complex in the Turkish capital.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said Pakistan and Turkey enjoyed very special relations bonded with fraternal ties rooted in history, culture and religion.
The two countries face security threats against them and Pakistan wants to enhance ties with Turkey in every sphere, said Khan – who was on his first visit to Turkey since he came to power in August.
“The affiliation, the love, the connection between Pakistan and Turkey has always been there. I want to stress that we want to take this relationship to a much higher level,” Khan stressed.
That was why he came to Turkey with a strong delegation, including ministers, the Premier said, adding that “I go back knowing that Pakistan and Turkey from now on move much closer.”
PM Khan said his grandfather’s generation, then in India, raised funds to support Turkey in its fight for freedom. The historic connection between the two peoples passed through generations, from his grandfather to his father and to him.
President Erdogan praised a recent Pakistani Supreme Court ruling recognising the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) as a terror group.
“The declaration of FETO as a terrorist group by the Supreme Court in Pakistan and delivery of the [FETO-linked] schools to our Maarif Foundation…These are welcomed steps,” he added.
Turkey blames Gulen for a 2016 failed coup. It established the Maarif Foundation in 2016 to assume the administration of overseas schools linked to FETO. It also establishes more schools and education centers abroad.
Prime Minister Imran Khan said Pakistan has an ambitious plan to build five million houses in the next five years and it wants to benefit Turkey’s experience in construction sector, as the latter had constructed two million houses in the last six to seven years.
He said Pakistan also wanted to take benefit from the Turkish health system, legal aid to under privilege people and education reforms.
Pakistan has three parallel systems of education and they want to have one core syllabus, he said. Khan added: “I had very interesting talks with you about how we would improve our education system.”
The prime minister also praised Turkey’s extensive health insurance coverage, saying Pakistan also wants to provide its downtrodden quality health services as part of his efforts to build a Naya Pakistan, an idea inspired by the State of Madinah.
Erdogan said both sides discussed all dimensions of their relationships. He expressed the hope that meeting of Turkish Pakistan High Council Strategic Partnership would be held in Islamabad and foreign offices of both the countries would work on it.
He said bilateral, commercial ties between the two countries and cooperation and solidarity would be pursued and further extended in future.
The Turkish President said both the countries also discussed joint steps in the field of defence industry.
Both sides discussed the trainer aircraft that Turkey had acquired from Pakistan. The Turkish sale of Milgem vessels to Pakistan was also discussed.
He said both sides also discussed their efforts regarding the attack helicopter and wanted to explore further collaboration.
Erdogan announced that a trilateral meeting between Turkey, Pakistan, and Afghanistan will be held in Istanbul after Turkey’s March 31 local elections.
Khan, for his part, said the people of Afghanistan were suffering for more than three decades and it was time that the international community, and anyone who could help in bringing peace to the war torn country, should come forward.
He said Pakistan has already been helping a dialogue between the Taliban and the US, but a much stronger effort from all stakeholders and neighbors is needed.
“I look forward to the summit meeting later in Istanbul, where we hope that Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey will be able to help this peace process,” he said.
Speaking about peace in South Asia he said Pakistan was trying to have a dialogue and friendly relationships with India, but the later refused from holding talks.
He said there was now an indigenous movement in Indian held Kashmir, where the people were sick of the three decades of Indian forces atrocities against them. Unfortunately, this [insurgency] is blamed on Pakistan by India.
The prime minister said the human rights abuses going on in Kashmir are just alienating the people and he discussed it with Erdogan as well.
Kashmir is the basic issue between the two countries and “stability will only take place when Pakistan and India sit down and resolve the differences”, Khan added.
Premier said that terrorism has been vastly reduced in Pakistan, adding, his hope that it can be eliminated with the help of Iran, Afghanistan and Turkey.
Syria and regional terrorism
He said both sides also discussed the issue of Syria and prayed for peace in the war torn country, so that the sufferings of could end.
The prime minister wished Turkey all the best in its endeavors to find a peaceful solution to Syrian issue.
Prime Minister Imran Khan assured the Turkish leadership that Pakistan stood with them to defeat the Islamic State of Iraq and Syria (ISIS).
He said that ISIS had already emerged in various parts of Afghanistan and Pakistan’s border areas and former tribal areas were threatened by ISIS.
But fortunately, Pakistan Army and intelligence agencies had done a remarkable job by defeating terrorism, he said adding terrorism had been vastly reduced in Pakistan.
The prime minister hoped with the help of Pakistan’s neighbours –Iran, Afghanistan and Turkey – “we can eliminate terrorism”.
Pakistan and Turkey Friday vowed to increase collaboration to uphold the true values of Islam at the international forums.
A joint statement released here after the meeting between Prime Minister Imran Khan and Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said the two leaders discussed all the relevant issues.
PM Khan visited Turkey on the invitation of President Erdogan on January 3-4. The Prime Minister was accompanied by a high-level delegation on the occasion.
President Erdogan and Prime Minister Khan, held a tête-à-tête meeting followed by delegation level talks on January 4.
Having exchanged views on the entire spectrum of Turkey – Pakistan bilateral “heart-to-heart” relationship as well as on issues of regional and international importance, the leaders of the two countries re-affirmed that the unparalleled fraternal relations between the peoples and the governments of the two countries date back centuries and are embedded in a common cultural and religious heritage, as well as a shared vision for the future, based on complete mutual understanding and trust, said the joint statement.
They noted with great satisfaction that the relationship between the two brotherly countries has over the years transformed into a strong strategic partnership in all areas of mutual interest that has withstood the tests of time.
They reiterated their determination to continue extending strong mutual support to one another on all issues of core national interest.
They expressed their commitment to further enhance their bilateral relations in every field to the benefit of their peoples.
They reiterated the importance of the Turkey-Pakistan High Level Strategic Cooperation Council mechanism that also includes several working groups in further strengthening bilateral relations.
They noted with satisfaction their ever-expanding defence and defence industry cooperation.
They expressed their resolve to further strengthening the existing economic, trade and commercial relations between the two countries.
They agreed to initiate mechanisms for collaboration in health and agriculture sectors.
They decided to further enhance people-to-people contacts through increased exchanges and cooperation in education, culture, tourism and youth fields.
They underlined their abiding commitment fighting the menace of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations.
They reiterated their resolve to fight against the Fethullah Gülen Terrorist Organisation.
They expressed satisfaction at the ongoing cooperation between the two countries at the multilateral forums including at the United Nations, Organisation of Islamic Cooperation; Economic Cooperation Organization; Developing 8 Countries; as well as other relevant forums.
They reaffirmed their commitment for achieving and sustaining peace, security and stability in their respective regions as well as internationally.
They underscored the need for resolution of the issue of Jammu and Kashmir through a sustained dialogue process and in accordance with the relevant UN Security Council resolutions.
They recognised the Turkish support for Pakistan’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group based on non-discriminatory criteria, and reaffirmed that Pakistan’s adherence to the NSG Guidelines and participation in the NSG would strengthen the global non-proliferation objectives.
They acknowledged that sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan could be achieved through reconciliation of all segments of the Afghan society with support of the regional countries and the international community.
They reiterated their full and resolute support to the efforts for the comprehensive settlement of the Cyprus issue on the basis of the political equality of the two communities on the Island, with a view to building peace and stability in the Eastern Mediterranean.
They emphasised the centrality of the cause of Palestine, rejected any attempt to alter the legal status and historical character of Al-Quds; called on the international community to increase their support to the Palestinian people in realising their quest for the establishment of an independent, sovereign and contiguous State of Palestine on the basis of the borders of 1967 with Al-Quds Al-Sharif as its capital.
They agreed to increase collaboration to uphold the true values of Islam at the international forums as well as to work closely against any attempts to malign, distort or vilify the historical image of Islam, its revered personalities, and its fundamental beliefs.
They expressed their strong resolve to further increase the frequency of bilateral contacts at the highest level.
They reiterated their determination to continue taking steps in all areas of mutual interest for mutual peace and prosperity, especially by transforming the historic Turkey-Pakistan relationship into an increasingly stronger trade, investment and economic relationship for the benefit of the peoples of the two countries.
They also agreed to convene the 6th Session of the Turkey-Pakistan High Level Strategic Cooperation Council in Pakistan at mutually convenient dates for further discussion on these areas.
Earlier, Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi met Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlüt Çavuolu in Ankara. Foreign Minister Qureshi is accompanying Prime Minister on his visit to Turkey.
The Turkish Foreign Minister was among the first dignitaries who had visited Islamabad in September, soon after the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf-led government took over.
Foreign Minister Qureshi briefed Çavuolu about the recent developments concerning peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan.
He also informed his Turkish counterpart, in detail, about Pakistan’s outreach efforts to most important neighbours and regional countries, in the recent weeks, including Afghanistan, Iran, China, Russia and Qatar.
The Foreign Minister added that desire to support and facilitate an inclusive, Afghan owned, Afghan led process had emerged as a notable convergence and shared desire among all, particularly Afghanistan’s neighbours, who had serious stakes in an amicable resolution of the 4 decades old conflict.
The Turkish Foreign Minister said that Pakistan and Turkey, as close partners, would continue their efforts to promote synergies on important issues. The Foreign Minister appreciated Turkey’s key role in strengthening the regional cooperation on Afghanistan through the Heart of Asia – Istanbul process.
Both sides expressed satisfaction on the trajectory of bilateral relations, symbolized by unprecedented traditional warmth and affection, at the peoples level.