ISLAMABAD: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan announced on Friday that his country would host the leaders of Pakistan and Afghanistan for a meeting aimed at bringing peace to the war-torn country.
He was speaking at a joint news conference with Prime Minister Imran Khan after their meeting at the Presidential Palace. PM Khan is on his first official visit to Turkey after coming to power in August.
Mr Erdogan said the trilateral meeting would take place in Istanbul after Turkey’s March local elections.
PM Imran Khan says Islamabad fully supports Ankara’s fight against militant IS in Syria
PM Khan told reporters that he hoped the meeting would bring “badly needed peace” to Afghanistan.
Pakistan and Turkey vowed to further cement bilateral economic, social and strategic ties and jointly fight terrorist organisations, including the militant Islamic State (IS) group and Fethullah Gülen’s organisation.
Prime Minister Khan said Pakistan fully supported Turkey in its fight against the IS in Syria, adding that the terrorist group had also entered Afghanistan and the Pakistan armed forces had done a commendable job to foil its attacks from the neighbouring country. “Pakistan stands by Turkey to defeat the IS.”
The prime minister said he had learnt a lot during his two-day visit and from the experience shared by the Turkish president. “We want to turn Pakistan on the pattern of State of Madina and I observed that Turkey is already on this path.”
He invited the Turkish president to take part in his government’s flagship programme to build five million housing units in Pakistan in five years. “Mr President, you have very experienced construction companies here [in Turkey] which can invest and earn by taking part in the programme,” he added.
Kashmir and India
Prime Minister Khan said peace between Pakistan and India could not exist unless the two sides sat together for dialogue. “We are trying to have friendly relations with India and offered the neighbouring country negotiations many times in the recent past, but India refused to talk,” he added.
He said Kashmir was the bone of contention between Pakistan and India as Indian armed forces had broken all records of barbarity and atrocities on innocent Kashmiris in India-held Kashmir. “Stability can come when India and Pakistan sit together for talks,” he added.
Talking about Afghanistan, the prime minister desired that peace should also be restored to the war-torn country. “People of Afghanistan have been suffering from war for over three decades and now they need peace.”
Prime Minister Khan said he wanted to replicate in Pakistan the educational, judicial and health reforms introduced by President Erdogan.
President Erdogan said he hoped 2019 would be the year when Turkey and Pakistan would take important steps — whether high-level strategic council meetings, or the Afghanistan-Pakistan-Turkey Trilateral Istanbul Summit. “The steps that we are going to take within this framework are very important to me,” he maintained.
He said that during his meeting with Prime Minister Khan, the two sides focused on defence industry cooperation, social and cultural issues, especially the fight against Fethullah [Gülen’s] terrorist organisation.
President Erdogan expressed gratitude to the Supreme Court of Pakistan for its decision in which it termed the Gülen’s organisation running Pak-Turk schools a terrorist outfit.
A joint statement issued after the meeting between PM Khan and Turkish President said the two sides reiterated their determination to continue extending strong mutual support to one another on all issues of core national interest. 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.
Both sides noted with satisfaction their ever-expanding defence and defence industry cooperation and pledged to further strengthen the existing economic, trade, health, agriculture and commercial relations between the two countries. They underlined their abiding commitment to fighting the menace of terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, including Fethullah Gülen terrorist organisation.
Both sides reaffirmed their commitment to 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.
Recognising Turkish support for Pakistan’s membership in the Nuclear Suppliers’ Group based on non-discriminatory criteria, the two sides believed that Pakistan’s adherence to the NSG guidelines and participation in the group would strengthen global non-proliferation objectives.
Pakistan and Turkey acknowledged that sustainable peace and stability in Afghanistan could be achieved through reconciliation of all segments of Afghan society with the support of regional countries and the international community.
Emphasising the centrality of the cause of Palestine, both sides rejected any attempt to alter the legal status and historical character of Al Quds and called upon the international community to increase their support for 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.
Both sides 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 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, the joint statement concluded.
Meetings with minister, businessmen
Earlier, Prime Minister Khan met Turkish Health Minister Fahrettin Koca. Ministry officials said Pakistan and Turkey had agreed to cooperate in the field of health by setting up a task force.
The prime minister also met a delegation of the Turkey-Pakistan Business Council of the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey. PM Khan said Pakistan in the 1970s went wrong because of socialist mindset which became a deterrent to wealth creation. “Although the socialist regime stepped down in the subsequent decades, the mindset is still prevailing among the bureaucracy.”
He said the PTI-led government, however, supported investments and was taking measures to create money making opportunities. He assured the Turkish business leaders of an investors-friendly environment in Pakistan under the PTI government, adding that the government was now making every effort to remove impediments in the way of investments.
Mustafa Kemal mausoleum
To pay tribute to the founder of modern Turkey, Prime Minister Khan visited the mausoleum of Ghazi Mustafa Kemal Ataturk in Ankara, laid a wreath at the grave and noted his remarks in the golden book.
Prime Minister Khan in his two-day visit to Turkey was accompanied by Foreign Affairs Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Planning and Development Minister Khusro Bakhtyar, Adviser to the PM on Commerce Razak Dawood and Special Assistant to the PM on Overseas Pakistanis Zulfikar Abbas Bukhari.
Published in Dawn, January 5th, 2019