ISLAMABAD: Army Chief General Raheel Sharif extended ‘unflinching’ support to Turkey on Monday in the wake of recent bombings in Ankara, which have plunged the West’s crucial ally against Islamic State (IS) into turmoil.
Gen Raheel has flown to Ankara on the Turkish government’s invitation to discuss enhanced security cooperation between the two long-term allies in the global fight against terrorism. The army chief met his Turkish counterpart on the first day of the three-day official trip.
In a series of tweets, the military’s spokesperson – the director-general of the Inter-Services Public Relations (ISPR) – said the two commanders discussed enhanced cooperation in counter-terrorism efforts as well as training personnel in dealing with improvised explosive devices.
”Pakistan and Turkey are facing daunting challenges. I am sure we will surmount them with a common and coherent approach. We assure you our unflinching support,” Gen Raheel told his Turkish counterpart, according to ISPR DG Maj Gen Asim Saleem Bajwa.
Strongly condemning the latest terrorist attack in Ankara, the army chief expressed his ‘heartfelt condolences’ to the Turkish nation.
The death toll from Saturday’s twin blasts at a pro-Kurdish peace march has increased from 95 to 128. Turkish authorities believe IS fighters might be behind the suspected suicide bombings.
“We understand the enormity of your challenges and stand by you,” Gen Raheel told the Turkish army chief. Briefing about Pakistan’s ongoing fight against terrorism, he said Pakistan had clear directions and a ‘sense of purpose’ in fighting terrorists.
The army chief also visited the Kamal Ata Turk Mausoleum in Ankara where he laid a wreath.
Earlier, he was presented a guard of honour at the Turkish Land Forces Headquarters. He was also awarded the Turkish Legion of Merit for services for regional peace and courageously handling menace of terrorism.
Given Pakistan and Turkey’s longstanding defence cooperation, security experts are of the view the two countries can cooperate with each other to deal with the emerging threat posed by IS.
Published in The Express Tribune, October 13th, 2015.