Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Islamabad yesterday for a visit aimed at bolstering strategic and economic ties, Pakistan’s foreign ministry said.
The visit comes nearly two months after Turkish, Malaysian, and Pakistani leaders discussed establishing a forum of Muslim countries and an English-language television channel to counter Islamophobia in the West.
Erdogan, Prime Minister Imran Khan and Malaysia’s premier Mahathir Mohamed met and discussed the plan in the United States and pledged to finalise it at a summit in Kuala Lumpur in December.
Pakistan’s foreign ministry did not say whether the leaders would discuss the plan during the visit, but said the two shared views on “ways to promote Islamic solidarity and counter Islamophobia”, without elaborating.
Prime Minister Khan welcomed the Turkish president and his wife Emine Erdogan as they disembarked from the airplane at the Nur Khan Airbase.
In what has now become a tradition for special foreign guests, Khan personally drove the Erdogans from the airport to Prime Minister’s Office.
A guard of honour was presented to the Turkish president by smartly turned-out armed forces personnel.
Posters welcoming the Turkish president were put up in the capital ahead of his arrival, with strict security in place.
The Foreign Office had announced that the Turkish president would be in Pakistan for two days to underscore “traditional solidarity and affinity” between the two countries and further “deepening and broadening of the flourishing Pakistan-Turkey strategic partnership”.
Erdogan, who is accompanied on the trip by his cabinet members, senior government officials, leading Turkish business figures, would co-chair with Prime Minister Khan the 6th session of the Pakistan-Turkey High Level Strategic Co-operation Council (HLSCC), address a joint session of parliament today for the record fourth time, and speak at the Pakistan-Turkey Business and Investment Forum.
He will also meet President Dr Arif Alvi.
Speaking with Turkey’s Anadolu news agency, Turkish ambassador to Pakistan Mustafa Yurdakul said that Erdogan’s visit to Islamabad is a historic event and “a major step towards exemplary bilateral ties between the two countries”.
Prime Minister Khan is expected to invite Turkey to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC).
He had been reported as saying previously that “we hope to involve them in using the CPEC for further connectivity, and we hope to involve Turkey in this [CPEC]”.
According to Radio Pakistan, the Turkish ambassador said that the CPEC is nearly completed and that Turkey is interested in becoming a part of special economic zones that will be established under the project.
Prime Minister Khan wants Turkish businesses to invest in Pakistan’s mining sector and engage in technology transfer projects.
About the proposals for promoting economic ties, the Foreign Office said: “Both sides place a strong emphasis on forging a robust economic relationship.”
“Pakistan and Turkey have a unique and abiding relationship characterised by mutual support and exceptional mutual trust and understanding.
“The two brotherly countries have always been each other’s steadfast partners. Turkey supports the cause of self-determination for the people of Indian-occupied Jammu and Kashmir. Pakistan stands by Turkey on the question of Cyprus,” the Foreign Office said.
Turkey and Pakistan are expected to sign a number of important accords/memorandums of understanding to formalise some of the agreements that would be reached during the HLSCC meeting.
The HLSCC is the highest-level decision-making forum that provides strategic direction to the ties.
There are seven joint working groups under the HLSCC, working on political co-ordination, trade and investment, energy, banking and finance, transport and communications, culture and tourism, and education.
HLSCC meetings are held alternately in Islamabad and Ankara.
Strict security measures have been taken ahead of the Turkish president’s arrival, with more than 2,000 police personnel involved, according to the Islamabad police spokesperson.
Islamabad Inspector-General Amir Zulfiqar Khan reviewed the security arrangements earlier in the day. directing the personnel on duty to ensure “foolproof” security and remain “red alert” during the visit.
“No negligence regarding duty will be tolerated,” the top police official was quoted as saying.
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