LAHORE - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif will be leaving Islamabad for Turkey’s capital Ankara for a three-day official visit on Monday (Sept 16) which is taking place at a very sensitive point of time. He will be meeting Turkish President Abdullah Gul and his counterpart Recip Tayyip Erdogan to discuss mutual, bilateral and international issues.
While Pakistan government is preparing for a dialogue with different factions of Afghan and Pakistani Taliban following a consensus arrived at the All-Parties Conference, Turkey is deeply involved in events taking place in Egypt and Syria being an ally of the United States and strategically located country in the troubled region.
Turkey is also directly involved in finding ways and means to bring peace to the war-torn Afghanistan and hosted intra-Afghan dialogue in Istanbul that pave the way for a meeting of Taliban commanders with US officials in Doha, capital city of Qatar. Although Pakistani Foreign Office had denied this being on the agenda during the visit, Turkey is more likely to allow Taliban to open a contact office in Turkey.
Premier Nawaz Sharif’s government had taken a principled and daring stand on situation in Egypt and Syria in line with the aspirations of Pakistani people. It recognises Egyptian President Mursi’s right to rule since he was elected democratically. At the same time, Pakistan is opposing use of force by the US and its allies and favours a diplomatic resolution of the conflict.
In the light of fast changing situation in the region, Prime Minister Sharif would avail this opportunity to discuss with President Gul and Premier Erdogan to adopt a common approach to address different international issues.
Diplomatic observers are of the view that the two sides would also focus on reactivating Islamic forums including the Organisation of Islamic Conference (OIC) to play an effective role in finding solutions to crises confronting Islamic Ummah.
The comfort level of Premier Nawaz would be excellent with both President Gul and Premier Erdogan since they have met on different occasions in the recent past. Nawaz visited Turkey in October 2011 on the invitation of Tayyip Erdogan and the visit enabled him to achieve an understanding of the remarkable transformation in Turkey as a result of far-reaching reforms that strengthened economy as well as democracy.
His second meeting with Erdogan took place when the Turkish leader was in Islamabad on a three-day official visit. Nawaz had lauded the role of Turkey during the 2005 earthquake and 2010 floods. On these occasions, Erdogan made historic remarks saying that Pakistan, Iran, Turkey and Afghanistan have common future. These remarks led to the idea of adopting a regional approach to Afghan conflict. Premier Erdogan also said that the United States was supporting some common enemies of Pakistan and Turkey.
Turkey and Pakistan are founding members of the Economic Cooperation Organisation and part of the Developing 8 countries (D-8) organisation. Both nations had worked to negotiate a preferential trade agreement, aiming to considerably increase trade and investments, especially in transport, telecommunications, manufacturing, tourism and other industries.
Prime Minister Sharif would be interacting with chief executive officers of top investment and business companies with an objective to attract them to invest in Pakistan. He would also hold sideline meetings with participants of Business Forum being held in Istanbul on September 19.
Both governments had sought to increase the volume of bilateral trade from $690 million to more than $1 billion by 2010, the target has since been achieved and now they are trying to increase their trade to the $15 billion mark which would be largely in Pakistan’s favour.
Turkey is already assisting the government of Punjab, in the municipal and transport sectors. Pakistan introduced its first world-class metro bus service in with technical and structural assistance from Turkey. Turkey is also assisting the Punjab government to develop a municipal system of international standards throughout the province.