The prime ministers of Turkey and Pakistan co-chaired Tuesday the inaugural session of the high-level cooperation council aimed at providing a unique platform to provide a long-term strategic direction to bilateral relations.
“The meeting will prepare the ground for both countries to reach our common goals,” Pakistani Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani said in his address to the Turkish Parliament. He also expressed the hope that the mechanism would strengthen the relationship especially in trade and help the countries attain a $2 billion trade volume in 2012.
The Pakistani leader said the cooperation council would also strengthen democratic ties between Turkey and Pakistan and increase visits between the two countries’ parliamentarians.
Gilani also conveyed his country’s special thanks to Turkey, who extended a helping hand to the victims of recent devastating floods in Pakistan.
“We were deeply impressed by Turkish people and children who rushed to the victims’ aid. A student from Konya sent us her pocket money and her doll, while an old pensioner sent his salary,” said the Pakistani leader.
“Turkish-Pakistani relations are very special,” he said, adding that Turkish feelings toward his country had always been warm and sincere.
“No matter how far Jinnah Street in Ankara and Atatürk Street in Islamabad [are from each other], we are two nations whose hearts are close; we are just like one state made up of two nations,” he said.
Jinnah Street in Ankara is a major road dedicated and named after Muhammed Ali Jinnah, the founder of Pakistan, while Ataturk Street in Islamabad is named after Turkey’s founder, Mustafa Kemal Ataturk.
Pakistan ‘inspired’ by Turkey on constitution efforts
Gilani also praised the Turkish government for its efforts to draft a comprehensive constitution, saying it would help strengthen democracy.
Referring to a similar constitutional process in his country, Gilani said, “We are proceeding on this road with inspiration from you.”
The Pakistani leader said his country was facing threats from terrorism and extremism, adding that former leader Benazir Bhutto, whom he described as a courageous leader, died for this reason.
“Terror is such a phenomenon that it recognizes no faith or border,” said Gilani, adding that cooperation was key to tackling the threat of terrorism.
Gilani also drew attention to the spiritual bond between Sufis Jalaladdin Rumi and Allama Iqbal, noting that he considered the latter a follower of Rumi. The prime minister read a poem saying, “We are strong as long as we are part of a nation,” which was applauded by Turkish ministers and deputies in Parliament.
After his address, Gilani met with Erdogan and co-chaired the first meeting of the high-level cooperation council.
Gilani decorated with state medal of honor
President Abdullah Gul decorated the Pakistani prime minister with a state medal of honor earlier in the day for the latter’s contributions to friendly relations between Turkey and Pakistan.
“Gilani’s efforts are of the utmost importance for not only boosting regional and global peace, stability and prosperity, but also enhancing deep friendly and brotherhood relations between Turkey and Pakistan,” Gul said during the ceremony in Ankara.
For his part, Gilani reiterated political will to further improve friendship between Turkey and his country, saying, “Long live Pakistan-Turkey friendship.” Gül hosted a luncheon in Gilani’s honor at the presidential residence following the ceremony.
In recognition of her outstanding contribution to the furtherance of Pakistani-Turkish bilateral relations, Gilani was expected to present the Hilal-e-Pakistan award to Emine Erdogan, wife of the Turkish prime minister, who visited flood-hit Pakistan in September. She distributed keys to houses constructed by the Turkish Red Crescent in Pirsabak, a Pakistani town.
Gilani will meet Wednesday with Turkish business community representatives in Istanbul over a luncheon hosted by the Foreign Economic Relations Board of Turkey, or DEİK. In a special convocation ceremony, Marmara University will award an honorary doctorate degree in journalism to the prime minister.
Source: Hurriyet Daily News