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February 14, 2020

One nation

Opinion

February 14, 2020

The ongoing visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, accompanied by a delegation of Turkish businessmen, is very significant in the context of the regional and global scenario.

The visit to Pakistan is planned at a crucial time when the disputed issues of Kashmir and Palestine have once again emerged as flash points. These two conflicts are unresolved and world peace will remain at stake if the UN and the international community fail to resolve them peacefully.

The Muslim countries seem divided in this regard. The sincere efforts of Turkey to unite Muslim countries on one platform are remarkable. It is also a significant feature of Pakistani foreign policy to promote cordial diplomatic ties with all Muslim countries.

The second session of the OIC held in Lahore was of historical importance where all Muslim countries reaffirmed the commitment to cooperate with each other to solve their problems amicably. Unfortunately, today’s OIC is unable to meet the expectation of the millions of residing in Muslim countries. The participation of late Indian foreign minister Sushma Swaraj (late) as an observer in an OIC session disappointed Pakistani people.

Pakistani people have enjoyed respect, love and dignity in Turkey at a massive level. Diplomatically, we established our friendship with China after 1962. The CPEC project has undoubtedly strengthened this friendship bond. However, Turkey is the only country which stands with the Pakistani nation even before Independence.

The close friendship between Pakistan and Turkey is also termed as one nation, two countries. Quaid-e-Azam Mohammad Ali Jinnah is honoured as a great leader in Turkey while the poetry of our national poet Allama Iqbal is also popular there. Pakistan and Turkey have also maintained long-standing military ties in a very professional manner.

During my interaction with Turkish friends, I was told that around one hundred years ago, when the Turkish people were struggling against imperialist powers the Muslims of the Subcontinent sincerely helped Turkish people. An impressive public movement was launched in support of Turkey by the people of the Subcontinent in which Mahatma Gandhi also participated actively. At that time, the love for the Turkish people became a catalyst to promote Hindu-Muslim unity in India.

Turkey was among those countries that recognized Pakistan just after Independence and supported us in becoming ae member of the United Nations. Both countries signed a treaty of friendship and cooperation in 1954 in order to strengthen political, cultural and economic ties. On the international front, Turkey is a firm supporter of Pakistan’s stance on the Kashmir conflict. Both countries are founding members of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO), which provides a regional platform to promote trade and investment opportunities.

We should adopt a realistic approach when welcoming the Turkish president to Pakistan. When former PM Nawaz Sharif visited Turkey in 1993 the late Turkish president, Suleyman Demirel, acknowledged the historical bilateral ties between both countries. However, he emphasized that there should be a focus on boosting economic cooperation.

Turkey was reportedly in crisis just a few decades ago and people were suffering from poverty, instability, inflation and unemployment. However, the Turkish leadership was determined to uplift the socio-economic conditions of its people. In order to achieve this goal, a number of business opportunities were explored. Today, Turkey is transformed into a peace-loving, developed and advanced country. The country that would once purchase weapons from Pakistan is currently a major arms-seller to our country.

Prior to the Turkish president’s visit, some media reports also hinted that the countries may consider a dual nationality agreement for their nationals. In my view, this development would be an innovative initiative to promote people-to-people relations. It would also open new doors of opportunities to ensure peace, prosperity and progress in both countries.

Today, Pakistan is also facing numerous challenges. There is a need to learn a lot from the Turkish model of development. We should understand that only economically-stable countries are able to have global impact. Business opportunities, advancement in technology and a well-qualified workforce obviously play a pivotal role at the international level. The Turkey-Pakistan Free Trade Agreement is in the best interests of our two countries and our one nation.

The writer is a member of the NationalAssembly and patron-in-chief of thePakistan Hindu Council.

Twitter: @RVankwani