NATO air strike: Turkey backs Pakistan’s demand for US apology

Published: May 23, 2012

The Turkish prime minister addressed simmering tensions between the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party and the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz. PHOTO: FILE

ISLAMABAD: 

Turkey, a member of the North-Atlantic Treaty Organisation (Nato), has thrown its weight behind Pakistan’s demand for an unconditional US apology over last year’s deadly Nato air strike.

The air raid on the Salala border post in Mohmand Agency had killed over two dozen Pakistani soldiers and plunged the fragile Pakistan-US counter-terrorism alliance into a deep crisis.

Appearing at a joint news conference with his Pakistani counterpart Yousaf Raza Gilani, Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Tuesday that his country respects Islamabad’s decision to reconfigure ties with the US.

However, he sought to distance himself from the controversy generated by the blockade of Nato supply routes, saying that it was a prerogative of the Pakistan government.

He made these remarks amidst speculation that Ankara was pushing Islamabad to lift the six-month-old blockade of supplies for US-led foreign forces in Afghanistan at the earliest. Turkey is part of the US-led international coalition fighting the decade-old Taliban insurgency in Afghanistan.

“As a member of Nato, Turkey believes that such issues should be resolved through mutual dialogue,” Erdogan said in response to a question about the lingering deadlock between Pakistan and the US.

In his remarks, Prime Minister Gilani said that the Salala incident had prompted the shutdown of the Nato supply routes and eviction of US troops from Shamsi Airbase. He added the final decision on Nato routes would be in line with new foreign policy guidelines approved by parliament last month.

The Turkish leader was however sceptical about the Nato/Isaf plans to pull out their troops from Afghanistan by 2014 – the deadline set by US President Barack Obama.

“The drawdown plan might be delayed,” he said. “But I can only tell you my country’s perspective. We will pull out troops only after all other troops have been withdrawn from Afghanistan.”

On Afghanistan, Gilani reiterated that his country would support an Afghan-owned and Afghan-led reconciliation. “The world should understand Pakistan’s sacrifices,” he insisted.

Govt-opposition mediator

For a second day running, the Turkish prime minister addressed simmering tensions between the ruling Pakistan Peoples Party and the main opposition Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz.

“If the government and the opposition keep fighting among themselves, the people will suffer profoundly,” he said. “We should put the people first. The state is secondary. The purpose of the state is to serve the people, and not anything else.”

If the parties in Pakistan demonstrate shoulder-to-shoulder politics, Pakistan will be able to take its deserving place in the world, Erdogan said.

Reminiscing about the ‘solidarity and cooperation’ which the government and the opposition had when he last visited Pakistan four years back, Erdogan said he wished to see the same cooperation back at home. “I never enjoyed such cooperation in Turkey.”

“If I say this ceiling is white, our opposition would say it is black. But the opposition should always be constructive to serve the common benefits of the people,” he said.

Asked whether he was willing to play the role of a mediator between Pakistan’s government and opposition, Erdogan said he believed that the government and opposition need to stand united to serve the country.

Pak-Turkey ink accords to boost ties

Pakistan and Turkey also signed nine agreements to promote cooperation in different fields, including trade, investment, energy and communications.

The accords included an agreement on bilateral investment, five Memoranda of Understandings (MoUs) mainly on energy, education and communication and two protocols on a joint ministerial commission and cooperation on archives.

(Read: Advice from Mr Erdogan)

Published in The Express Tribune, May 23rd, 2012.

Reader Comments (24)

  • Love Pakistan
    May 23, 2012 - 4:43AM

    Thank you turkey.. We love our turk brothers.

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  • Abdullah
    May 23, 2012 - 4:44AM

    “If the government and the opposition keep fighting among themselves, the people will suffer profoundly,” he said. “We should put the people first. The state is secondary. The purpose of the state is to serve the people, and not anything else.”*

    If only this sort of sentiment was portrayed by politicians throughout the world!

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  • Asif Malik
    May 23, 2012 - 5:26AM

    A great leader between two hypocrites in this pic.

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  • Char Latan
    May 23, 2012 - 5:33AM

    Doesn’t sound like he is backing anything but Pakistan’s right to make its own decision regarding supply routes. I don’t read anything that has the Turkish premier backing that an apology be made to Pakistan. Your headline is misleading.

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  • Nazia
    May 23, 2012 - 6:11AM

    “We should put the people first. The state is secondary. The purpose of the state is to serve the people, and not anything else.”

    Love it!

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  • May 23, 2012 - 7:35AM

    Can we not drag our guests in domestic politics please!

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  • May 23, 2012 - 7:51AM

    A great leader between two uneducated, uncivilized and violence prone dehumanized forms of beings. Even Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal would shy away from them.

    “Pity the nation that elects dehumanized beings.” Salams to the nation, may better sense prevail.

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  • May 23, 2012 - 7:58AM

    Great idea. Aren’t NATO forces responsible for Salala attacks, Turkey, being a key Country in NATO should lead the way in apologizing.

    After all its NATO supplies that are stopped not the US supplies.

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  • Zeta
    May 23, 2012 - 8:08AM

    Pakistan-China-Turkey
    Its kind spiritual bond with these two countries, i dont know but there is love for them among Pakistani masses. We consider them more friendly and closer to us than the Arab countries.

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  • May 23, 2012 - 8:28AM

    Turkey is on the rise and it’s a good friend of Pakistan.

    In his book “The Next 100 Years”, author George Friedman of Stratfor argues that Turkey is a rising power both economically and it’s going to emerge as the main challenger to the United States by the middle of this century.

    http://www.riazhaq.com/2010/06/is-america-young-and-barbaric.html

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  • May 23, 2012 - 8:29AM

    Turkey is on the rise and it’s a good friend of Pakistan.

    In his book “The Next 100 Years”, author George Friedman of Stratfor argues that Turkey is a rising power both economically and politically and it’s going to emerge as the main challenger to the United States by the middle of this century.

    http://www.riazhaq.com/2010/06/is-america-young-and-barbaric.html

    Recommend

  • Mirza
    May 23, 2012 - 8:36AM

    I agree with the above comment that the key to his statement is people “We should put the people first. The state is secondary. The purpose of the state is to serve the people, and not anything else.”
    In Pakistan the institutions are the first and people that last. We have been exploiting people with slogans like strong center, strong state, strong federation, strong army, strong judiciary, strong defense, but the people always come last. No wonder Turkey is the new force in the region and we are constantly sliding down the hill.

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  • Pragmatist
    May 23, 2012 - 8:44AM

    So don’t open the NATO supply routes. Also, don’t ask for aid. Don’t ask for loans. Don’t ask for trade concessions from Europe and America for your textile industry. Then see where your economy is and get back. Also don’t cook up hairy-fairy numbers like Pakistan “lost” $60 billion in the War on Terror. Pakistan made over $20 million and if the economy was afloat during the Mush era, it was due to this aid.

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  • Expatriate
    May 23, 2012 - 3:03PM

    So sad that events of the past have made the govt and erstwhile friendly opposition at daggers point.This means in simple term that national interest is of no significance to both.
    While we must thank Turkish PM for his desire to defuse the tension between the feuding parties we must also tell our honourable guest that the fight is over share of booty and has nothing to do with service to people or country.
    Regarding opening of supply route,unfortunately it has been allowed to become a an EGOIST
    matter.Things are heading to an ugly direction brunt of which will be felt by Pakistan for years,sad.

    Recommend

  • Kashi
    May 23, 2012 - 3:12PM

    Brave man(Turk President) who can speak TRUTH.

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  • Dr V. C. Bhutani
    May 23, 2012 - 7:23PM

    Erdogan may have difficulties taking Turkey into Europe. After his “performance” in Pakistan, not many in Europe will think that Turkey is defined by Mustapha Kemal Pasha and not by Islamism.

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  • Its (still) Econonmy Stupid
    May 23, 2012 - 8:48PM

    Zimbabwe, North Korea, Iran, Cuba Venezuela also back Pakistan’s everything against America. Welcome to the exclusive club. By the way I do not see the all weather friend or twin brother’s support.

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  • You Said It
    May 23, 2012 - 11:05PM

    Erdogan said on Tuesday that his country respects Islamabad’s decision to reconfigure ties with the US.

    The headline is a creative interpretation of the Turkish PM’s words. Nowhere did Erdogan say that US should apologize to Pakistan.

    Recommend

  • Wendy Miller
    May 24, 2012 - 12:57AM

    Bring our troops back, find our own oil, look for work for our families and tell THEM to get on their camels and sort themselves out. (After all their ancestors have been doing just that for the last 6,000 years).

    Recommend

  • MK Ultra
    May 24, 2012 - 1:41AM

    Here’s a more interesting tidbit than this one. Ha’aretz is reporting that Turkey is indicting the terrorists responsible for the Mavi Marvara massacre. Well, not the leaders of the terrorists, of course, just the mercenaries who pulled the triggers not the ones who masterminded and ordered the massacre and the act of piracy.

    Recommend

  • MK Ultra
    May 24, 2012 - 1:45AM

    @Pragmatist: LOL! As if you were giving them money for that. You Amerikans must be the only ones who don’t realize that your country openly bribes all these other countries, put their puppet governments in their pockets and then have free reign to kill innocent civilians, steal natural resources, create chaos and terrorize everyone.

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  • May 24, 2012 - 2:42AM

    @Economy Stupid: “Welcome to the exclusive club”

    Yes, and the exclusive club that Turkey belongs to is called NATO.

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  • May 24, 2012 - 3:35AM

    @Asif Malik: How very True!

    Recommend

  • yasin Sahin
    Jun 5, 2012 - 3:51PM

    Although turkey, even if America’s allies, Pakistan is an important companion to turkey. Pakistan is always next to the turkey.

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