Turkey assures Pakistan of full support in rehabilitation phase
MABAD Prime Minister Syed Yousuf Raza Gilani deeply appreciated his Turkish counterpart Tayyip Erdogans exceptional gesture of solidarity with Pakistan by first sending Madam Erdogan to Pakistan to express the solidarity with the flood victims and then visiting Pakistan to express his countrys support with them in these difficult times. During breakfast meeting with the Turkish Premier at Prime Ministers House Wednesday, the Prime Minister conveyed the profound gratitude of his Government to Prime Minister Erdogan over the very generous and substantial funds worth US $200 million and out of which around $126 million were donated by the Turkish business community and general masses into his fund for Pakistans flood affectees. He said that the Government and people of Pakistan were thankful that Turkish Prime Minister, Madam Erdogan and senior government and political leaders had taken upon themselves to organise fund-raisers and made appeals to their people through mosques to donate for Pakistani flood victims. He also commended that Turkey was the first country, which had started building pre-fabricated home villages for the affectees first in Nowshera and now 2000 homes for 10000 affected people in Muzaffargarh.
The Prime Minister noted with profound sense of gratefulness that Madam Erdogan, soon after her visit to Pakistan, not only mobilised the international community by writing personal letters to the spouses of the other heads of states and governments but also donated her personal jewellery for the flood relief efforts. He said that his Government and people would never forget Turkeys exceptional support during and aftermath of devastating floods and recalled that Turkey had similarly stood by Pakistan in rehabilitation and reconstruction of earthquake-affected areas in 2005.
The Prime Minister briefed his Turkish counterpart on the efforts being undertaken by the Government in the rehabilitation and recovery phase in the wake of floods. He apprised the Turkish Premier about the establishment of National Oversight Disaster Management Council (NODMC) under the auspices of Council of Common Interest by taking all the stakeholders and provinces on board. He said that the NODMC had been tasked to ensure that the required funds for the onerous task of rehabilitation and reconstruction were collected and disbursed transparently, efficiently, effectively and equitably.
The Prime Minister stated that the economic impact of the floods was colossal. Though the damage and need assessment report of World Bank and ADB was likely to be issued during this week, the cost of rehabilitation and long-term reconstruction is expected to run into tens of billions of dollars, he assessed. He informed the Turkish Prime Minister that his Government had devised a comprehensive strategy to carry on the residual relief activities in the flood-affected areas.
The Prime Minister said Pakistan would be sharing its national strategy for rehabilitation and reconstruction with the development partners in the forthcoming meeting of Pakistan Development Forum scheduled in the next month. He said that Pakistan would count on Turkeys continued support to its national efforts to rebuild lives and properties of its people and was greatly encouraged by Turkeys offer for getting involved in reconstruction of infrastructure in Pakistan.
While dilating on the fraternal cordial ties between the two countries rooted in centuries old bond of history, culture and religion, the Prime Minister said that his Government was determined to build upon on the existing excellent relations with Turkey and take them to unprecedented level. He said that both countries should strive through concerted efforts to raise the level of present volume of trade to two billion by 2012 as had already been agreed.
He emphasised that the Turkish Government should encourage its private sector to collaborate even more closely with their Pakistani counterparts in key sectors like construction, infrastructure, engineering, energy, agriculture, telecommunications, mining and textile etc. He underlined the need of opening of Turkish Banks branches in Pakistan to facilitate strengthening of present trade and investment ties.
The Prime Minister emphasised the importance of upgrading the rail and road links between the two countries and the running of fast speed cargo trains between Islamabad and Istanbul on regular basis. He hoped that both the countries would engage with Iran for the early upgradation of rail and road links to fast track this project.
Prime Minister Erdogan expressed people of Turkey and his sincere commiseration and sympathies on the worst calamity in the history of Pakistan. He assured the Prime Minister that his Government and people would steadfastly stand by their Pakistani brethren during the process of rehabilitation and reconstruction. He termed the happiness of Pakistani people the happiness of Turks and their sorrow the sorrow of Turks.
He reassured the Prime Minister that Turkey on its part would wholeheartedly support and participate in the rehabilitation and long-term reconstruction phase particularly in construction of houses, road, rail links and power infrastructure.
While discussing the measures for further strengthening of time-tested ties between the two countries, the Prime Minister Erdogan invited his Pakistani counterpart to visit Ankara next month to participate in the Second High-Level Cooperation Council Meeting with him to steer their unique partnership for expanded cooperation in multifaceted fields.
He agreed with the Prime Minister that Pakistan alone could not face this enormous challenge of rehabilitation and long-term reconstruction of the devastation caused by massive floods. He hoped that international community would realise the magnitude of economic difficulties faced by Pakistan to meet this challenge.