Last year on November 17, 2016 there was pin drop silence in Pakistan’s Parliament as country’s most respectable guest rose to deliver historic address to the parliament. He was none other than Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
“ Honorable National Assembly Speaker, Honorable Chairman of the Senate, esteemed Members of the National Assembly and Senate, dear brothers and sisters, I would like to extend to you my most heartfelt greetings, affection, fondness and respect on behalf of myself, my delegation, my country and my people. I brought wholehearted salaam to you from Turkey,” his voice echoed in the parliament. It was the third time that Mr Erdogan had done so, a record for any foreign dignitary.
Hundreds of thousands across Pakistan glued to Television sets at home, offices and restaurants to listen to their special guest.
Led by Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif, most popular Prime Minister in history of Pakistan, government had pulled out all the stops for the two-day visit by President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Pakistan.
With an increasingly aggressive geopolitical environment in south-Asian region, Pakistan needs to sustain and deepen its ties with nations with whom it has traditionally enjoyed stable alliances. And Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif played his card wisely to inculcate into Erdogan’s mind that Pakistan, a country of 200 million people, was eager to take Pakistan-Turkey friendship to the new horizons.
Erdogan’s 2 days visit to Pakistan laid foundation for transforming Pakistan-Turkey relationship to strategic relationship.
Three months later when Prime Minister of Pakistan Mian Mohammad Nawaz Sharif landed at Esenboga International Airport, he felt extra special followed by warm welcome given by Turkish authorities.
The Prime Minister grinned with glee as Turkish authorities greeted him with great enthusiasm applauded as he landed at airport. Not only him but also each member of his delegation including this correspondent felt so special at the airport.
It was beginning of new era in Pakistan-Turkey relationship.
Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s three days visit to Ankara played an important role in boosting in Pakistan-Turkey bilateral relations. It was Sharif who ranged President Erdogan after failed coup attempt. It is important to note that Sharif especially visited Turkish Parliament “to reaffirm Pakistan’s unequivocal support and solidarity with the government and people of Turkey against the failed coup attempt in Turkey on July 15 last year.
Widely known as having strong nerves, Sharif’s government was toppled in October 1999 followed by a military coup. He had to spend years in exile until people of Pakistan voted his party to secure majority in general elections held in 2013 which resulted in Sharif’s becoming Pakistan’s third time Prime Minister. Both Sharif and Erdogan have at least one thing in common—-both have had bad taste of army.
During visit to Turkey, Prime Minister of Pakistan won hearts of the government and people of Turkey by affirming determination to combat the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) network in Pakistan, stressing that Turkey’s enemies are also Pakistan’s enemies.
Pakistan and Turkey reaffirmed the strategic dimension of bilateral relations as Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif and Prime Minister Binali Yildrim, co-chaired the 5th Session of the Pakistan-Turkey Strategic Cooperation Council (HLSCC) in Ankara last week.
Established in 2009, the Pakistan-Turkey High Level Cooperation Council (HLSCC) serves as a framework for consultations at the highest political level between the two sides, and consists of six Joint Working Groups (JWGs) in the areas of energy; trade; banking & finance; education; communications & railways; and culture and tourism. So far 60 Agreements/MoUs have been signed under the HLSCC framework in various areas.
Analysts in Pakistan believe that warm relationship between two brother Islamic countries of Pakistan and Turkey not only have touched new heights but also paved a way to form a powerful block comprising China, Russia, Pakistan and Turkey.
There are signs that making of some kind of a bloc, or superpower rectangle is likely in near future. In the past, Erdogan had expressed interest in joining forces with China and Russia in the SCO. However, what is preventing him from formally requesting to join the bloc is that it would disrupt Ankara’s long-standing EU membership bid.
As Russia and Turkey take time to improve ties, China and Pakistan are enjoying very close and prosperous ties with Ankara. China has already brought two cold-war era foes ie Pakistan and Russia together. Well informed sources say, China is also bringing Turkey and Russia closer.
Analysts believe if the four nations decide to formally show the world their intentions to stand by each other forming the Pakistan-China-Russia-Turkey rectangle – it would be a diplomatic, military and economic game-changer for the whole world. (KASWAR KLASRA/ISLAMABAD)