Pakistan calls for OIC emergency meeting to discuss Turkey earthquake

PM Shehbaz says Pakistan hopes to send about 1,300 tonnes of relief goods by end of Feb and 1,700 in March

Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif speaking during an interview with Turkish news agency Anadolu on February 17, 2023. — Anadolu
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif speaking during an interview with Turkish news agency Anadolu on February 17, 2023. — Anadolu 
  • PM says things are difficult but resolve of Turkish nation is strong. 
  • Says Pakistan, Turkey were like two souls and one heart.
  • Pakistan had already sent 500 tonnes of relief goods, he adds. 

ANKARA: Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has said the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) should immediately convene an emergency meeting to discuss and decide on an immediate relief package for the people of Turkey.

A massive earthquake that hit Turkey and Syria killed more than 45,000, left millions homeless, and sparked a huge relief effort. 

In an interview with Anadolu Agency, the prime minister said to serve the suffering humanity in the quake-hit country the OIC should immediately convene a meeting so that all the Muslim countries could decide on an immediate relief package for Turkey.

The Pakistani premier also urged the international community to play its role as the country needed their support.

He cautioned that a similar situation could arise somewhere else, so the global community should accept the challenge and with collective efforts, support the quake victims.

The premier said that it was not a question of point scoring or taking sides.

“It is high time for the international community to come forward and contribute whatever they can for the rehabilitation of the earthquake-affected people,” he added.

He said President Erdogan was leading from the front along with his team. Undaunted by the extreme weather conditions, they were marching forward with a sense of purpose, he said. 

“Things are extremely difficult, but the resolve of the Turkish nation is strong,” he said adding, the Turkish nation, in the past, had fought for their freedom by offering sacrifices.

“Out of this challenge, there is an opportunity, and no doubt, they will convert this destruction into a wonderful construction,” the prime minister opined.

The prime minister said Pakistan and Turkey were like two souls and one heart.

He said that after the earthquake, he spoke to President Erdogan on the telephone and offered condolences and everything they had in Pakistan for their Turkish brothers and sisters.

The premier said that Pakistan had already sent 500 tonnes of relief goods through different commercial flights and via Pakistan Air Force planes.

He added that he hopes that Pakistan would be able to send something like 1,300 tonnes of relief goods by the end of this month and 1,700 tonnes in March. 

The prime minister said the bulk of it would be comprising winterised tents, adding that he had already directed for speedy manufacturing of the winterised tents.

“Our rescue teams are able to rescue 14 people from the rubble. But this devastation is beyond imagination,” he added.

The prime minister said the federal cabinet and parliament of Pakistan had donated one month’s salary to the relief fund established for the earthquake-affected people.

He said that he had also requested the people of Pakistan to express complete solidarity with the people of Turkey.

The prime minister recollected that during the earthquake of 2005, the floods of 2010 and last year's floods in Pakistan, President Erdogan and the Turkish people went the extra mile to help the nation with huge generosity.

“It’s a colossal loss, so no amount of aid would be enough,” PM Shehbaz observed. He also said that Pakistan is in a deep sense of grief and sorrow and prayed for the departed souls. 

Lauding the leadership qualities of President Erdogan, PM Shehbaz expressed optimism that his government would come out of the crises, adding the people of Pakistan stood in complete solidarity with the Turkish people.

He said Turkish people had also donated billions of dollars to their quake victims.

About the close ties between the two countries, the prime minister said that their hearts beat together, though they spoke different languages, but understood each other. They were like families.

“That is the spirit and motivation, it goes back to centuries,” he further elaborated.