Arguably, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif’s three-day trip to Turkey is aimed at seeking fresh pledges of economic support. Turkey is one of Pakistan’s most consistent allies and the nature of relations is emotional-cum-ideological. People-to-people contacts and bilateral state relations remain as strong as ever, with the two countries now seriously exploring ways and means to further cement ties. Importantly, both sides also wish to boost their strategic relations by increasing the level of cooperation. Turkey greatly respects Pakistan and its people. It perceives Pakistan as a state that came into being on the basis of the aspirations of the Muslims of the subcontinent and believes that the development and progress of Pakistan is the success of the Muslim world. Turkey has supported Pakistan in its fight against terrorism by extending every possible help. The Shehbaz Sharif government also enjoys good relations with the Turkish leadership. Amid the ongoing economic crisis, Pakistan has once again approached Turkey for strengthening trade ties. Earlier this month, the prime minister had proposed turning the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor (CPEC) into a “trilateral arrangement” between China, Pakistan and Turkey so that all three nations could benefit from its potential. Thus, Turkey can be an active partner in the CPEC projects for the regional economic development. On its part, Turkey has always stood by Pakistan in the need of hour. Tayyip Erdogan has always shown solidarity with Pakistan on the issue of Kashmir and criticised the mistreatment of Kashmiris at the hands of the Indian government. Turkey is one of the emerging economies among the developing nations.
Besides its geographical importance, Turkey is also playing a significant role at the international level. It enjoys great influence in the Middle East and Europe. The friendship between Pakistan and Turkey is time tested and indispensable. The only complaint Turkey has against Pakistan is the low volume of trade. It wants to increase trade prospects with Pakistan and looks for sincere efforts by the civilian and military leadership in establishing durable peace in Pakistan. Turkey wants Pakistan to be a more stable country with a robust foreign policy towards other neighbouring countries. Turkey has also urged Pakistan to focus on normalising relations with India. Unless relations with India are normalised, durable peace in the region would remain a dream. Instability dampens economic development, besides portraying a negative perception of a country among the comity of nations. Turkey is boosting its longstanding ties with Pakistan and its stature as one of the few industrialized countries in the Muslim world. It has immutable bonds of common faith and shared history with Pakistan and reposes great trust in Islamabad. Pakistan must grab this opportunity and never let down its close ally. Islamabad needs to further build these ties and take full benefit of the trade prospects extended by the Turkish government. It should seek Turkish help in resolving the energy crisis as well as in other areas like agriculture, defence, tourism and infrastructural development. The past track record of relations between both countries shows that Turkey always stood by Pakistan in times of need. Pakistan should also reciprocate these sentiments positively.