time Tuesday May 31 2022
Web Desk

More has to be done to strengthen bilateral trade: PM Shehbaz Sharif ahead of maiden Turkey visit

Web Desk
A file photo of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Turkish President Racep Tayyip Erdogan. — Presidency of Republic of Turkey
A file photo of Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Turkish President Racep Tayyip Erdogan. — Presidency of Republic of Turkey

  • PM Shehbaz Sharif leaves for three-day visit to Turkey with high-level delegation today.
  • Says Pakistan-Turkey relations are "grounded firmly in common religious, cultural and linguistic links."
  • Lauds accord between two countries over regional and international issues.

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has assured boosting bilateral trade with Ankara, while vowing to make Pakistan a self-reliant and politicaly stable country in an interview with Anadoglu Agency ahead of his Turkey visit.

He left for a three-day visit to Ankara today (Tuesday) over Turkish President Racep Tayyip Erdogan's invitation, which is his maiden Turkey visit since he assumed office as the prime minister.

While departing for Ankara, PM Shehbaz Sharif said that it is time that Pakistan and Turkey "leverage their excellent bonds to upgrade bilateral ties."

"Departing for visit to Turkey. Time has come for Pakistan & Turkey to leverage their excellent bonds to upgrade bilateral ties. Era of regional connectivity, shared development & common destiny calls for a fresh approach. Look forward to discussing this with my brother @RTErdogan," he Tweeted.

In conversation with the Turkish agency earlier, the prime minister said that Pakistan and Turkey enjoy exemplary relations, "grounded firmly in common religious, cultural and linguistic links."

He said that the two countries have had each other's back against all the challenges during the last seven-and-a-half decade of diplomatic relationship.

"Pakistan and Turkey support each other on all issues of core national interest — whether it is Jammu and Kashmir or Northern Cyprus," PM Shehbaz Sharif said while responding to a question.

The premier thanked the Republic of Turkey and its leadership for principled support on the issue of Kashmir.

PM Shehbaz Sharif lauded the accord over regional and international issues and people-to-people and cultural contact between Pakistan and Turkey. He, however, pointed out that the current level of bilateral trade doesn't truly represent the strength of Pakistan-Turkey ties, saying that more has to be done in the said regard.

The prime minister expressed intention to encourage Turkish investors and business sector to benefit from the vast area of opportunities and huge consumer market in energy, infrastructure, e-commerce, municipal agro-based industry and IT sectors in Pakistan.

'Economic revival first challenge'

The prime minister spoke about the major challenges faced by the coalition government of Pakistan. He said that the first and foremost challenge is to revive the economy. The other challenges include dealing with the polarisation and political partisanship and ensuring result-oriented governance, holding free and fair elections

"Our coalition government aims to achieve political normalisation through consensus-building on key national issues," the prime minister said.

He said that Pakistan has to rework the system and restore people’s confidence in the government’s ability to deliver services efficiently.

'Pak-US constructive engagement can promote regional peace, development'

When asked about Pakistan's role in US' policy in Asia-Pacific region in light of long-run alliance between Pakistan and US, PM Shehbaz Sharif said that constructive engagement between the two countries can promote regional peace, security and development.

He said that Pakistan wishes to deepen and widen its engagement with the US, which is its biggest export market and key source of FDI and remittances.

Moreover, PM Shehbaz Sharif also spoke about Pakistan's focus to take China-Pakistan Economic Corridor ahead, Pakistan-India relations and urgency to address the Afghan humanitarian crisis.

High-level delegation accompanying PM Shehbaz Sharif

A high-level delegation, including Minister for Information and Broadcasting Marriyum Aurangzeb and Minister of Commerce Naveed Qamar and key members of the cabinet, are accompanying PM Shehbaz Sharif on his visit aimed at boosting friendly ties with Ankara.

Foreign Minister Bilawal-Bhutto — who is already in Turkey — will join the delegation in Ankara, while business community representatives will fly to Turkey on a commercial flight.

During the visit, the premier will have a one-on-one meeting with Erdogan which will be followed by delegation-level talks. The two leaders will also exchange views on regional and international issues, besides covering the entire gamut of bilateral relations.

On the sidelines of the visit, PM Shehbaz Sharif is scheduled to attend the Pakistan-Turkey Business Council Forum where he will interact with the Turkish businessmen and investors.

Moreover, the prime minister will have bilateral interaction with the Turkish leadership, with a particular focus on advancing economic, trade and investment ties.

Major deals between Pakistan and Turkey are likely on the visit.

The two friendly countries are celebrating the 75th anniversary of the establishment of their diplomatic relations this year.

It is pertinent to note that the last interaction between the leaders of the two countries came when the Turkish president called the Pakistani premier to congratulate him on his election as the prime minister.

In the phone call, Erdogan "wished that the election results would be beneficial for the friendly and brotherly people of Pakistan," according to the Presidency's Directorate of Communications.

Erdogan had said they closely follow developments in Pakistan, and Turkey is bound by a deep-rooted history, friendship and brotherhood.

PM Shehbaz has held two foreign trips this month to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates (UAE), respectively, after assuming office on April 12, as he sought to strengthen bilateral ties with the oil-rich states.

During the visit, the Prime Minister will have one-on-one meeting with President Recep Tayyip Erdogan which would be followed by delegation-level talks.