Pakistan and Turkey will explore options how to assist Kabul in brokering a peace deal with Taliban insurgents in a post-Nato Afghanistan, officials said as Turkish Prime Minister Ahmet Davutoglu begins his two-day visit today (Tuesday).
It will be Davutoglu’s first visit to Pakistan since he was elected as Turkey’s prime minister in August last year.
Davutoglu will be accompanied by a high-level delegation, comprising several cabinet ministers and senior government officials, according to a statement issued by the Foreign Office. A representative delegation of Turkey’s top businessmen will also accompany the Turkish leader.
Officials said besides discussing bilateral issues, one of the key talking points of Davutoglu’s official interactions will be the current situation in Afghanistan.
Turkey, which is also a member of Nato, has remained part of the international mission to stabilise Afghanistan. It has also been actively engaged in overt and covert efforts to bring the Afghan Taliban to the negotiating table. Pakistan, Afghanistan and Turkey formed a trilateral group in 2007 to advance such efforts.
Sources told The Express Tribune that Afghan President Ashraf Ghani has requested both Islamabad and Ankara to support his efforts for bringing durable peace and stability in his country.
Since relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan have shown significant improvement in recent months, the trilateral forum can now play a ‘far more effective role,’ sources added.
According to the Foreign Office, during the visit, the 4th meeting of the Pakistan-Turkey High Level Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC) would be held.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and his Turkish counterpart Ahmet Davutolu would co-chair the session to be attended by respective ministers from both sides.
The High Level Cooperation Council (HLCC) was established at the prime ministerial level in October 2009.
It has had three sessions so far: in Ankara in December 2010; in Islamabad in May 2012; and again in Ankara in September 2013. At the 3rd session, the council was renamed as ‘High Level Strategic Cooperation Council’ to reflect the strategic nature of the relationship.
The HLSCC meeting would be preceded by the meetings of Joint Working Groups (JBGs) in six key areas – finance and banking, trade, energy, transport and communications, education; and culture and tourism. Prior to the HLSCC, the relevant ministers would also have bilateral interactions and present outcomes of their deliberations at the HLSCC meeting.
Besides the HLSCC, the Turkish prime minister’s schedule envisages meeting with his Pakistani counterpart, a luncheon to be hosted by the prime minister and a joint press conference.
A number of MoUs/agreements are expected to be signed on the occasion. The two prime ministers would also attend the Pakistan-Turkey Business Forum 2015.
Premier Davutoglu would call on President Mamnoon Hussain, who would also host a dinner in honour of the visiting dignitary and his delegation.
The Turkish prime minister would also attend events related to the academia, culture and the media.
“Pakistan and Turkey enjoy a special relationship – marked by exceptional cordiality and deep mutual trust and understanding,” the Foreign Office statement said. “The two countries have common perceptions on regional and international issues and work closely at regional and multilateral forums.”
It said bilateral relations with Turkey have seen tremendous growth and dynamism in recent years. Consistent efforts are underway to give a central thrust to the trade, economic and investment dimensions of the relationship.
There has been significant progress in diverse fields, including with the support of the Turkish private sector.
Published in The Express Tribune, February 17th, 2015.