ISLAMABAD: On the first day of his official visit to Turkey on Tuesday, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif noted that the closeness in Pakistan and Turkey’s relationship was not reflected in trade relations between the two countries, and expressed the desire that the volume of trade between the two should go up to $5 billion per year.
Addressing the Turkey-Pakistan Business Forum, the PM regretted what he termed the “maltreatment” of Turkish investors at the hands of the previous government over the past four years.
“The first metro in Lahore was designed by Turkey. Solid waste management expertise given to Pakistan in peanuts. Turkish trained our police free of cost. But in return what we have done to our Turkish brothers.”
He also announced a decision to lift visa restrictions for Turkish citizens.
In an interview with Turkish news agency Anadolu, the PM also thanked the leadership of Turkey for its principled support on the Jammu and Kashmir dispute.
“Both Pakistan and Turkey have a similarity of views on regional and international issues and enjoy close collaboration on bilateral, regional, and multilateral forums,” Sharif said ahead of his three-day official visit to Turkey.
On Pakistan’s role in US policy in the region, he said Pakistan and the US had a long-standing and broad-based relationship in various areas of mutual interest.
“We wish to deepen and widen our engagement with the US, which remains Pakistan’s biggest export market and a major source of FDI and remittances,” he said.
On China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC), he said the vision of connectivity and win-win cooperation at the heart of the project was in line with his government’s priorities, as well as the vision for Pakistan as a peaceful, prosperous region.
He mentioned that work was underway on CPEC Special Economic Zones, and Pakistan was incentivizing foreign investments in key industrial sectors.
On relations with India, he said Pakistan pursued its shift from geo-strategy to geo-economics, we are looking to forge partnerships, especially within the region, based on connectivity, collective development, and prosperity.The prime minister was accompanied on this trip by Defence Minister Khawaja Mohammad Asif, Information and Broadcasting Minister Marriyum Aurangzeb, Minister for Investment Board Chaudhry Salik Hussain and PMs special assistants Tariq Fatemi and Fahad Hussain. Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari will also join the delegation.
During his visit, the prime minister will have a one-on-one meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, which will be followed by delegation-level talks. A business delegation from Pakistan comprising representatives of leading companies across various sectors will also participate in the business engagements.
Meanwhile, Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto-Zardari also met with his Turkish counterpart, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu upon his arrival.
“Hosted my brother FM @BBhuttoZardari of #Pakistan in Ankara. Reviewed preparations of PM Shahbaz Sharif’s visit... Will further develop our cooperation w/friendly and brotherly Pakistan on the 75th anniversary of our diplomatic relations,” the Turkish FM tweeted.
Mr Bhutto Zardari thanked his host and tweeted that “fruitful discussions on a range of bilateral as well as regional issues” also took place during the meeting.
Published in Dawn, June 1st, 2022