ISLAMBAD: Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed the joint session of Pakistani parliament on Monday for the second time in four years, becoming the first international leader to speak to lawmakers twice in Pakistan. He vowed that Turkey would stand by Pakistan in the hour of trial.
The joint session was also addressed by Pakistani Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani and Leader of Opposition in the National Assembly Chaudhry Nisar Ali Khan.
All the leaders boasted of a strong Pakistan-Turkey relationship and vowed to take it further to ensure peace and stability in the region.
Home away from home: Erdogan
Opposition parties are meant to reform governments and not try to force them out or pass unnecessary criticism, remarked Turkish Prime Minister Erdogan during his address to the joint session of parliament.
He added that the opposition parties are in favour of the people and are their representatives.
The Turkish premier expressed his pride over addressing the parliament for the second time and thanked the Speaker of National Assembly Dr Fehmida Mirza and other members for giving him the opportunity.
Erdogan offered sage advice for the parliament and the opposition, “the parliament plays a very important role in protecting the country. There is heavy responsibility on the members of the parliament. This is a force which can do everything.”
The premier lauded Pakistan for upholding democracy in the country and said that democracy has never been achieved easily in the world. “The government should put this power, bestowed by the people, to good use,” he suggested.
Erdogan also upheld the friendship between Turkey and Pakistan and vowed to help Pakistan in its hard times. “Pakistan’s pain is our pain, Pakistan’s happiness is our happiness… There is no example of the deep love held between Pakistani people and the Turkish people. I feel like I am at home here, I feel like I am with my relatives and brothers.”
He said that the second High-Level Cooperation Council meeting with his counterpart Gilani will take place tomorrow where the leaders will discuss ways of strengthening bilateral ties. During the meeting, discussions will be held to increase the economic cooperation between the two countries from $1billion to more than $2billion, he added.
He further extended his country’s help in fighting against extremism. “Pakistan is not alone in its fight against terrorism. We are always ready to help it. We will take all measures to ensure peace and stability in the region.”
He also emphasised an increase in bilateral trade to $2 billion for economic prosperity of the two countries.
Erdogan also gave his condolences to the victims of Siachen tragedy and the victims of Bhoja Air crash and prayed for the forgiveness of the deceased.
Erdogan, thought to be a close personal friend of many Pakistani politicians, arrived in Islamabad on Sunday night on a three-day trip amid simmering political uncertainty after Premier Gilani’s conviction by the Supreme Court last month in a contempt case.
Turkey a role model for Islamic countries: Gilani
Calling Erdogan’s address to the parliament another milestone in Pakistan-Turkey relationship, Gilani said that the friendship between the two Muslim nations is very old and emerged many years before the creation of Pakistan.
“Our relationship dates back to the Khilafat Movement,” Gilani stated, referring to the 1924 movement in the Sub-Continent to lend support to the crumbling Ottoman empire.
Praising the Turkish leadership for its role in the global politics, Gilani said that the world is watching how Turkey is progressing under the leadership of Erdogan.
“Turkey is emerging as a role model for the Islamic world in terms of democracy,” he said, adding that we are keen to learn from our Turkish brothers.
Detailing the ongoing projects between the two countries, Gilani said that they have signed a declaration of high-level cooperation. “This initiative will further boost our relationship,” he beamed.
“The currency swap agreement is another major step forward,” he added.
He also appreciated Turkey’s help to Pakistan during the floods in 2010, and 2011.
Concluding his address, Gilani said that the present government is determined to steer the bilateral partnership to new heights.
Nisar reminds parliament of critical juncture
In his address to welcome the Turkish Prime Minister, Opposition leader Chaudhry Nisar extended salutations of the people of Pakistan to Erdogan.
“I welcome you as a well-wisher and an ally of Pakistan,” he said.
The Leader of the Opposition told the Turkish Prime Minister that the opposition is only present in the parliament today because of his arrival.
“You have come to Pakistan at a very difficult point in time; we, as a country, are facing problems globally and locally,” he said, adding that the opposition has decided to put all its political difference aside and welcome a true friend of Pakistan.
“Our feelings for the brotherly citizens of Turkey and your leadership transcend all our political issues,” he said.
Acknowledging Turkey’s love for Pakistan, Nisar said that Pakistan has many friends around the world but the feelings the term “Pakistan” and “Pakistani” evoke in Turkey, are unparalleled.
“When we are in Turkey, we are made to feel like home,” he said.
Giving due credit to the past governments on both sides for strengthening the friendship over the last 60 years, Nisar proclaimed that the relationship between the two countries has risen to new heights during Erdogan’s tenure.
Appreciating Turkish stance on issues related to Palestine, Israel and Kashmir, Nisar said that taking such a position qualifies Erdogan to play the role of a spokesman for the Islamic world.
“We need to send out a message to the rest of the world to respect Islamic values, Islamic traditions and our history,” Nisar said, adding that no one is better equipped to do so than Erdogan.
As a closing note, Nisar asked Turkish Prime Minister to take back with him the message of friendship from the people and the parliament of Pakistan.
“Although we are two sovereign states, we are one in spirit and one in soul, in good times and bad. Let’s face the world and our problems together,” he said.
The Turkish leader is scheduled to hold separate meetings with a whole spectrum of political parties in Pakistan during his three-day stay in the country, fueling speculation that he might be travelling with baggage full of advice and counsel for wrangling leaders.
The address gives Erdogan the distinction of being the first international leader to speak to lawmakers twice.
Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N) said on Monday that it would boycott the banquet being hosted by Prime Minister for Erdogan. The party has said that the boycott is a protest against Gilani’s conviction for contempt.
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