The Turkish Model and Pakistan
MUHAMMAD HAROON SHAUKATThe people and the leadership of Pakistan are eagerly awaiting to extend a warm welcome to His Excellency Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan on his forthcoming fifth visit to Pakistan next week.
Pakistan and Turkey enjoy a very special relationship, which is steeped in history and is built upon many commonalities, especially of culture, human values, traditions and faith. The real strength of the relationship is the love and affection and eternal bonds between the peoples of the two countries, which have only deepened with the passage of time. This unmatched relationship predates the creation of Pakistan and Turkey as modern states. The two countries are truly an extension of the same nation.
In good and bad times the two countries have closely stood by each other. How can the Pakistani nation ever forget the extraordinary support and assistance extended to it by its Turkish brethren during the recent natural calamities: the devastating earthquake of 2005 and the unprecedented floods of the last two years? It was not just the substantial material support, but also the sharing of pain and anguish felt by the Turkish people and experienced equally and deeply by His Excellency Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdoğan and his distinguished lady Madam Emine Erdoğan, which touched the hearts of every Pakistani.
The Pakistani people take great pride in the strength and the rise of Turkey under the charismatic leadership of Prime Minister Erdoğan. Turkey’s economic miracle, which has lifted it to become the 16th largest economy in the world, has become a model for Pakistan and also for many other countries seeking the path of rapid social and economic progress. It is just not the tripling of per-capita income of the Turkish people, it is equally and perhaps more importantly the social dimensions of development in Turkey that are fascinating. The rapid rise in the quality of life of the Turkish people - underpinned by an extensive Social Security Program, quality education at all levels and the availability of affordable health coverage, the massive upgrading of infrastructure, including roads, rail, air travel and communications, and urban services like efficient public transport - are all great successes to emulate.
Further deepening and diversifying bilateral cooperation and strategic partnership is a mutually shared priority. The formation of the High Level Cooperation Council (HLCC) in December 2010, which is co-chaired by the prime ministers of the two countries, has become an important vehicle to give impetus to multi-dimensional bilateral cooperation and collaboration. The focus has rightly shifted to strengthening commercial and economic ties in recent years.
Pakistan, with a population of over 180 million people and endowed with excellent human and material sources, is a potential economic power house. In the last decade, Pakistan has suffered enormous economic and social losses as the lead country in the global campaign against terrorism and extremism. Our net economic losses in this period are over $80 billion. Despite these difficulties however, the Pakistani nation is determined and resilient. Under the current democratic government, the institutions of state have been strengthened. Today, democracy in the country is deeply entrenched. We have a robust and vibrant civil society, a free and dynamic media and a strong and independent judiciary. These inherent strengths are a bulwark against the evil forces of terror.
These institutional strengths are also positioning Pakistan toward the path of economic recovery and rapid socio-economic development. Indeed, the challenges and difficulties are enormous. However, Pakistan does possess the potential and wherewithal to bring about an economic turn-around of its own.
In this context, partnership with Turkey is vital. Turkey today is both a model and a potent partner in virtually all sectors. The two governments are vigorously working on parallel tracks of (a) providing facilitative legal frameworks and (b) creating an effective interface between the private sectors of the two countries.
Pakistan offers enormous potential for investments and joint ventures by Turkish entrepreneurs in sectors like energy, construction, infrastructure, textiles, agriculture and agro-based industry especially dairy products, transport, communications and manufacturing. Equally important are services sectors like banking, investment companies, telecommunications, etc.
Pakistan and Turkey are two important and strong countries, especially in the Islamic world. Both are important pillars of stability in the broader region.
His Excellency Mr. Recep Tayyip Erdoğan’s visit to Pakistan holds great promise for transforming Pakistan-Turkey relations into a comprehensive 21st century partnership.
Muhammad Haroon Shaukat is the Ambassador of Pakistan to Turkey