Prime Minister Shaukat Aziz, during his 4-day
official visit to Turkey paved the way for new avenues of cooperation
between the two brotherly countries, which are already enjoying
excellent bilateral relations in economic, trade and defense areas.
The closeness between Pakistan and Turkey was really
demonstrated when the two Prime Ministers addressed a joint news
conference in Ankara on the conclusion of the visit. Shaukat Aziz and
his host and counterpart, Recep Tayyib Erdogan, extended their
unqualified support on the sensitive issues of Kashmir and Cyprus.
Erdogan declared that Turkey fully supports Pakistan
on Kashmir while Pakistan's premier said "whatever steps Turkey has
outlined and deems necessary on Northern Cyprus, we affirm our support
without any reservations."
Talking to newsmen flying with him back home, Prime
Minister described his visit productive and expressed the hope it would
result in furthering the excellent relations between the two brotherly
states in all areas. "We have wide-ranging talks with the Turkish
leadership and the two sides had identical views on all regional and
The Prime Minister expressed the hope that his
discussion with the Turkish leadership and interaction with the private
sector will lead to a higher level of Turkish investment in Pakistan,
besides improving the volume of two-way trade. He said the two sides
talked about increasing cooperation in the defense field and the
co-production of certain military equipment. Pakistan-Turkey relations
were deep rooted in history and two countries share the common heritage,
Shaukat Aziz, who held extensive interaction with the
Turkish private sector, hoped that it will lead to an increased flow of
investment from Turkey to Pakistan and boost the two-way trade which
currently stands at only 400 million dollars.
The Prime Minister said during his talks with the
Turkish leaders, he also discussed the challenges facing the OIC and
Muslim Ummah and that what the two countries could do together to
project the true image of Islam.
In fact, the warmth and fragrance of friendship was
stemmed from centuries old and deep-rooted relations between the two
For quite sometimes, the two states have developed a
consensus to forge stronger economic links within the framework of
Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD), and under Economic
Cooperation Organization (ECO). Unfortunately, these efforts have not
yielded meaningful results in the form of economic cooperation either in
the regional or bilateral grounds. However, the resolve that Shaukat
Aziz expressed lasts a while, that situation might take a turnaround. PM
Shaukat Aziz declared his visit as a 'turning point' especially in terms
of our desire to raise the level of cooperation between our neighbours.
Apart from seeking expansion in bilateral trade and
business relations, the two leaders voiced their interest in making ECO
and OIC more effective and result producing organizations. Indeed, this
is a charming assertion of intent, though not so new. The two countries
along with Iran, it may be recalled, had first set up RCD as far back in
1964. But that body failed to deliver the task of enhancing regional
economic cooperation among the three states. This significant regional
organization went out of business in 1979.
The idea of regional partnership though did not lose
its appeal because of the promise of economic advantages it offers.
Hence, the trio set up another organization in 1985 under the banner of
ECO, for the express purpose of promoting economic, technical as well as
cultural cooperation. It was expanded in 1992 to include Afghanistan and
six newly independent Central Asian countries. However, ECO too failed
to make much progress on its stated objectives. Twenty years on it is
yet to put in place the necessary infrastructure and institutions. One
hopes the 'turning point' remarked by our Prime Minister is applicable
to the multilateral context of ECO as well.
A fresh idea that both leaders explored and agreed on
was presented by Erdogan, saying that the two sides had a
"potential to take many steps" to increase cooperation in
defense industry. These steps, his aide later revealed, could lead to
joint production of tanks, armored personnel carriers, and patrol boats.
The aide also said that a Turkish company, Aselan, is ready to sell
electronic warfare equipment to Pakistan Army. Turkey indeed has a lot
to offer Pakistan in this particular field, being a member of the
world's most powerful military alliance, NATO.
As such it has access, though limited, to advance
technologies in the area of defense. Joint ventures with Turkey,
therefore, hold great possibilities for Pakistan in upgrading its
military equipment. Some of these technologies employed in electronic
warfare equipment can be useful in modernizing the economy as well.
Before leaving for Turkey last week, the Prime
Minister held a meeting with President Pervez Musharraf and the four
Chief Ministers in which they had given full mandate to the President to
make a decision on the NFC issue.
Before the mandate, the President had announced two
days earlier that he would give his award within a few days. It is
believed that the Prime Minister advised him to delay his decision till
the budget 2005-06, which has been prepared on the basis of previous NFC
award, is passed.
Returning to Islamabad on Friday, the Prime Minister
met the visiting delegation of the leaders from Indian held Kashmir. He
described their visit to Azad Kashmir and Pakistan as a major
development towards confidence building measures (CBMs) between Pakistan
and India. "Pakistan will never let them down and would not accept
any solution of Kashmir, which was not acceptable to Kashmiris,"
the PM assured the Kashmiri leaders.