HYDERABAD, Sept 16: Turkey’s Ambassador to Pakistan Mustafa Babur Hizlan has said the two countries could not achieve trade target of $2 billion this year because they faced a number of problems, including absence of a free trade agreement (FTA) between them.

This year Pakistan and Turkey were supposed to achieve the target of $2 billion in bilateral trade, as announced by the Turkish prime minister during his visit to Pakistan, he said.

Mr Hizlan was talking to reporters at the residence of a former district nazim of Tando Allahyar, Dr Rahila Gul Magsi, on Saturday night.

He linked the failure to achieve the target with the absence of a preferential trade agreement.

“We have to compete with the countries that have FTAs with Pakistan. We are working over it for some time and hope that an agreement will be finalised soon,” he remarked.

He said the president of Turkey had directed him to develop trade and economic relations with Pakistan and bring them to the desired level.

The ambassador underlined the need for greater number of flights of the Turkish Airlines to destinations in Pakistan and said the PIA should also increase its flights to Turkey.

Mr Hizlan said the two countries needed a better road connection and “we are working for a better rail-road link”.

“There is a missing part in the shape of Iran as you cannot practically travel from Istanbul to Islamabad by train and several trial runs had been carried out. We are now trying to commercialise that line.

“Likewise, we don’t have a direct maritime connection, so we have to tackle this problem to develop economic and trade relations,” he said.

He said there had been some Turkish investment in Pakistan but again it was not up to the expectations. “But investment is increasing, especially in construction and energy sectors.

“Turkish investors are interested to explore opportunities in Pakistan and we are trying to increase people-to-people contact and cultural exchanges.”

Mr Hizlan said there were a lot of similarities that could be drawn in many areas between Pakistan and Turkey and civil-military relationship was one of them.

“We had several military takeovers in our history. I believe democracy is something you learn by trial and error. We tried several things…we committed several mistakes and we were able to learn some lessons from our political history,” he said.

The ambassador said Pakistan had vibrant and lively media though the journalists could have some complaints. There were several TV channels and the media people enjoyed freedoms as they had the guts to challenge the system and question what was happening in the country.

“This is certainly remarkable,” he said. “Free press is the main factor because of which Pakistan is progressing rapidly,” he said and added that in every country there were obstacles.

He said that Turkey was part of Isaf (International Security Assistance Force for Afghanistan). “We have a contingent in Afghanistan, mostly in Kabul. We have been a non-combatant force and we support transition.

“We always believe that the problem in Afghanistan can’t be solved only through military means.

“If there is any further role for Turkey in Afghanistan we would consider it but there had to be a consensus among all stakeholders.”

He brushed aside the impression that Turkey had forced Pakistan to attend the Nato summit held in Chicago this year. He said the decision was taken by Pakistan and Turkey never compelled Islamabad in any way.

The Turkish envoy also visited the Sindh Museum and evinced keen interest in various articles depicting the culture of Sindh, its heritage and its ancient civilisation.

Updated Sep 17, 2012 02:56am

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