Prime Minister Muhammad Nawaz Sharif has vowed to put a mechanism in place to boost trade and economic ties between Pakistan and Turkey.
In an interview with the daily ‘Zaman’ in Ankara‚ he underlined the excellent political relations between the two countries. He called upon Turkish businessmen and entrepreneurs to invest in Pakistan‚ especially in sectors like energy‚ infrastructure‚ engineering and agro-based industry.
The Prime Minister emphasized Turkey’s role as a bridge between Asia and Europe‚ and Pakistan’s potential to become a gateway to Central Asia.
Nawaz Sharif said Peace and stability in Afghanistan is directly linked with peace and stability in Pakistan. He said that his government would continue to extend sincere support for the peace and reconciliation process in Afghanistan.
Citing recent success stories involving Turkish companies in Pakistan, like Lahore’s Metro Bus System and a wind energy project in Sindh, Nawaz Sharif said Pakistan was an investor-friendly country that offered complete legal protection and fair treatment to both local and foreign companies.
The Prime Minister emphasized Turkey’s role as a bridge between Asia and Europe, and Pakistan’s potential to become a gateway to energy-rich Central Asia.
Replying to a query, he said that the relations between Pakistan and Turkey were exemplary.
These feelings of affection and close affinity were shared on both sides between the people as well as the leadership and his visit to Turkey soon after assuming office demonstrates the close cooperation between the two countries, he added. He said that primarily his visit coincided with the meeting of the Third High Level Cooperation Council where his cabinet colleagues and senior officials would interact with their Turkish counterparts.
Responding to a question, he said that domestically, the priorities of his government included economic progress and prosperity of the people of Pakistan. It also included socio-economic development, infrastructure development, education, especially technical and vocational training, etc, he added.
He said that the Afghanistan-Pakistan-Turkey trilateral process was an important initiative aimed at promoting peace, stability and socioeconomic development in Afghanistan. “We are grateful to Turkey for its continued support to the process that has now evolved into an institutionalized tripartite mechanism for multiple cooperation in diverse fields,” he added.
He further said Pakistan and Turkey enjoy a “special relationship,” that predates independence of both states and has few parallels in inter-state relations. “Physically we may live thousands of miles apart but our hearts beat together and we are truly one nation, two states,” he maintained.
The Prime Minister said that the unique geographical situation of both Turkey and Pakistan made them strategically important.While Turkey could become a bridge between Asia and Europe,Pakistan shared boundaries with two highly populated and big economies of the world and could be a gateway to the energy rich Central Asia. He said that Pakistan has liberalized its economy and is successfully moving towards market economy.
The private sector has assumed the role of front-line player in the economic field.They are an investor-friendly country and offer equal treatment to local and foreign investors. ll sectors are open for foreign investment under complete legal protection. He said foreign companies could start their business on 100 percent equity basis and they would therefore like the support and involvement of Turkish businessmen and entrepreneurs in sectors such as energy, infrastructure, engineering, agro-based industry, etc.
Their challenge is to root out this menace and Pakistan needs the cooperation and support of international community and their neighbors for controlling funding, supply of arms and training to the terror networks, he opined.
He said that soon after assuming office, he had invited all the political parties in the country to cooperate with the government in collectively addressing the problems facing the country.
“This offer of mutual consultation and reconciliation is not limited to political parties only. We are ready to hold dialogue with those who are ready to shun extremism. We have more than one option to deal with terrorists, but shall use force only as a last option as we want to avoid further loss of innocent lives,” he added.
To a question he said that terrorism knew no borders and curbing it was a global challenge. Pakistan and the international community, including the United States, have a shared interest in curbing terrorism.
The US strategy of using drone strikes in Pakistan against terrorists not only violated their sovereignty and international law but also counterproductive and caused further radicalization in the society, he added.
He said these strikes undermined their collective efforts to counter extremism and terrorism and expressed the hope that there was a rethink in the US about the utility of the drone strikes.
About Kashmir issue, the Prime Minister said that the dispute was the longest-outstanding issue on the agenda of the United Nations Security Council.
The UN Security Council resolutions provided for holding of a fair and impartial plebiscite in Indian held Kashmir under UN auspices to enable the Kashmiri people to exercise their right of self-determination.
“I hope that UN will play its due role in resolving this dispute. Recent tensions along the Line of Control are indeed a matter of concern for us. Pakistan will continue to respond to the situation with restraint and responsibility,” he added. He also renewed Pakistan’s commitment to a serious, sustained and constructive engagement with India that must include the core issue of Jammu and Kashmir.
The Prime Minister stressed that in order to relieve the people of India and Pakistan from poverty and illiteracy, it was incumbent on the leadership of both the countries to sit together and ponder over these issues. “I have always given high priority to good relations with India for the sake of durable peace in the region,” he added.
Responding to another query, he said Pakistan needs a new framework for social change to provide equal opportunities and social justice to everyone, eliminate exploitation of the poor and harness its human resource potential.
With knowledge becoming the key driver of socio-economic development in the 21st century, education was their number one national priority, he said, adding that they were aligning their policies and strategies to allocate adequate financial resources, initiate institutional reforms, monitor effective implementation of policies and enforce an effective external monitoring and evaluation system.
He said Pakistan would welcome technical assistance and support of Turkey in transforming our education system. NNI