ISLAMABAD, Dec 1: Turkish Ambassador Mustafa Babur Hizlan has said the failure to resolve the Karkey issue soon may adversely affect the economic and business relations between Turkey and Pakistan because the barge-mounted rental power unit represented the biggest Turkish investment in Pakistan to date.

During a visit to the Islamabad Chamber of Commerce and Industry (ICCI) on Saturday, Mr Hizlan said the dispute should be resolved as soon as possible because some of the advanced devices on the ship could get damaged with the passage of time.

The Supreme Court of Pakistan has asked the Turkish company to refund $120 million earlier paid to it by the government of Pakistan under the Rental Power Projects (RPP) policy. In line with the verdict, the National Accountability Bureau (NAB) has instructed the Maritime Security Agency and the Port Qasim authorities to prevent the ship from leaving the country.

Meanwhile, addressing members of the local business community, the Turkish ambassador said it was time to translate the already warm and cordial relations between the two countries into improved trade ties.

Mr Hizlan underlined the importance of strengthening rail and air links to boost cooperation between the two countries. The Turkish Airlines should increase the number of its flights to destinations in Pakistan and PIA should increase its flights to Turkey.

On the occasion, ICCI president Zafar Bakhtawari said the Turkish people had always stood beside Pakistanis whenever calamity struck Pakistan. He said the trade between the two friendly countries amounted to only $1.8 billion in 2011. The annual bilateral trade could easily be boosted to $3bn, he added.

Mr Bakhtawari stressed the need to finalise as soon as possible the Pakistan-Turkey Preferential Trade Agreement and create facilitative mechanisms and opportunities for investors of the two countries to boost bilateral trade.

He urged the Turkish Airlines to launch a direct flight to Istanbul from Islamabad via Baku (Azerbaijan).

He called for early completion of the project under which a railway track was to be laid between Pakistan and Turkey via Iran.