Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrived in Islamabad on Thursday on a two-day trip aimed at strengthening bilateral strategic partnership and economic ties. He was received at the Nur Khan Airbase by Prime Minister Imran Khan.
In his first official engagement of the visit, the Turkish leader held a meeting with President Arif Alvi, which was followed by a banquet. President Erdogan and Turkish First Lady Emine Erdoğan were received by President Alvi and his wife Samina Alvi as they arrived at the Aiwan-i-Sadr.
During their wide-ranging talks, President Alvi extended a warm welcome to President Erdogan and expressed satisfaction over the level of multifaceted engagement between Pakistan and Turkey, according to a press release issued by the President's Secretariat.
He said that the 6th session of the Pakistan-Turkey High Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC) will further strengthen and broaden relations between the two countries.
President Alvi apprised his Turkish counterpart of the "worsening human rights situation" in Indian-occupied Jammu & Kashmir and thanked President Erdogan for his "principled stand" on the issue of Kashmir, the tweets said.
The two presidents also exchanged views on regional and international issues, with President Alvi highlighting Pakistan’s efforts for peace and reconciliation in Afghanistan. He stressed that the world community should extend its help in Afghanistan’s post-conflict reconstruction.
According to the press release, both leaders underlined the significance of the historic bilateral relationship between Pakistan and Turkey in diverse areas including politics, economy, culture, defence and people-to-people contacts. They underscored the importance of fully realising the potential of this relationship and transforming it into a "strong and dynamic trade and economic partnership".
President Alvi and Erdogan also agreed that Pakistan and Turkey "must continue to work closely to counter challenges facing the Ummah, including Islamophobia", the statement said.
Turkish president arrives
Earlier in the day, Prime Minister Imran welcomed the Turkish president and his wife as they disembarked from the airplane at the Nur Khan Airbase.
In what has now become a tradition for special foreign guests, Prime Minister Imran personally drove President Erdogan and the Turkish first lady from the airport to Prime Minister House.
A guard of honour was presented to the Turkish president by smartly turned-out personnel of the armed forces. Senior cabinet members and government officials welcomed the president at Prime Minister House.
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 visit Pakistan from Feb 13 to 14 for underscoring “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 and leading Turkish business figures, would co-chair with Prime Minister Imran the 6th session of the HLSCC, address a joint session of parliament on Friday for the record fourth time and speak at the Pakistan-Turkey Business and Investment Forum.
Talking to Anadolu Agency, Turkish Ambassador to Pakistan Mustafa Yurdakul said that President Erdogan's visit to Islamabad is a historic event and "a major step towards exemplary bilateral ties between the two countries".
Prime Minister Imran is expected to invite Turkey to join the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC). He had in an interview with a Turkish newswire said: “We hope to involve them in using CPEC for further connectivity, and we hope to involve Turkey in this [CPEC]”.
According to Radio Pakistan, the Turkish ambassador said CPEC is nearly completed and that Turkey is interested in becoming a part of special economic zones which will be established under the project.
The prime minister wants Turkish businesses to invest in Pakistan’s mining sector and engage in technology transfer projects.
About the proposals for promoting economic ties, the FO 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 & Kashmir. Pakistan stands by Turkey on the question of Cyprus,” the FO said.
Turkey and Pakistan are expected to sign a number of important agreements/memorandums of understanding to formalise some of the understandings 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 coordination, trade and investment, energy, banking and finance, transport and communications, culture and tourism, and education.
HLSCC meetings are held alternatively in Islamabad and Ankara.
PML-N President and opposition leader Shehbaz Sharif, who is currently in London, welcomed Erdogan to Pakistan and extended wishes on behalf of former prime minister Nawaz Sharif and the opposition.
"President Erdogan represents the honour and courage of the Muslim Ummah," Shehbaz said in a statement, adding that the Pakistani people are grateful to the Turkish leader for raising his voice against Indian atrocities in occupied Kashmir.
Stringent security in place
Strict security measures were taken ahead of the Turkish president's arrival and more than 2,000 police personnel and officers will perform duties during his visit, according to the Islamabad police spokesperson.
Islamabad Inspector General Amir Zulfiqar Khan earlier today reviewed the security arrangements. He directed the personnel on duty to ensure foolproof security and remain "red alert" during the visit.
"No negligence regarding duty will be tolerated," IG Khan was quoted as saying.
With additional reporting by Shakeel Qarar and Javed Hussain.