ISLAMABAD: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan is due to arrive in Islamabad on Thursday on a two-day official visit, which officials and observers believe, hold great significance against the backdrop of regional and international developments.
The Turkish leadership is leading a high-powered delegation comprising cabinet ministers, senior government officials, as well as heads of CEOs of leading Turkish corporations.
The visit comes at a time when Pakistan is trying to control damage caused because of its absence from the Kuala Lumpur summit Malaysian Prime Minister Mahathir Mohamad hosted in December to discuss issues facing the Muslim Umman and suggest way forward.
Prime Minister Imran Khan initially was to attend the summit but pulled out at the last minute citing concerns expressed by Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE) over the gathering of leaders from Malaysia, Turkey, Iran and Qatar.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) viewed the summit as an attempt by certain Islamic countries to create a new bloc within the Muslim world. However, host Malaysia and Pakistan dismissed such perceptions.
Recently, Premier Imran visited Kuala Lumpur and expressed regret over not being part of the summit. He also admitted that Pakistan stayed away from the gathering because of concerns expressed by some of its friends about the real objective of the Kuala Lumpur summit. He said that he would attend the next summit since he was convinced that the initiative was not meant for creating a new Islamic bloc.
Observers believe that recent visit of PM Imran to Malaysia and the visit of Turkish president to Islamabad will help Pakistan put the relationship back on track with the two key Muslim countries, which have been providing Islamabad support on the longstanding dispute on Kashmir with India.
A statement, issued by the Foreign Office ahead of the trip, said that during the visit, Premier Imran and President Erdogan will have tete-a-tete, after which they will co-chair the 6th Session of the Pakistan-Turkey High Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC) in the joint cabinet format.
At the conclusion of the session, a Joint Declaration will be signed. A number of important agreements and memorandum of understandings (MoUs) are expected to be concluded. The two leaders will have a joint press stakeout.
President Erdogan will separately meet President Dr Arif Alvi. The Turkish president will also address a joint session of parliament. Together with the prime minister, he will address the Pakistan-Turkey Business and Investment Forum which brings together leading investors and business-people from both sides.
The High Level Strategic Cooperation Council is the highest level decision-making forum, providing strategic direction to further strengthening of relations between the two countries. There are seven Joint Working Groups (JWGs) functioning under the HLSCC, focused on political coordination; trade and investment; energy; banking and finance; transport and communications; culture and tourism; and education. So far, five sessions of the HLSCC have been held, alternately in Islamabad and Ankara.
“Pakistan and Turkey have a unique and abiding relationship characterised by bilateral 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 and Kashmir. Pakistan stands by Turkey on the question of Cyprus,” the FO statement read.
Under the leadership of PM Imran and President Erdogan, Pakistan-Turkey relations have further fortified into an enduring partnership. Both sides place a strong emphasis on forging a robust economic relationship.
“There is also a joint resolve to translate historic amity into vibrant cooperation in diverse fields, including in the context of combating Islamophobia, promoting Islamic solidarity, and advancing shared goals of regional peace, security and stability,” the communiqué added.
The visit of President Erdogan will serve to underscore the traditional solidarity and affinity between the two countries, and prove to be another significant milestone in the further deepening and broadening of the flourishing Islamabad-Ankara strategic partnership.