Islamabad (Staff Report): The Turkish Ambassador to Pakistan, Mehmet Pacaci, said that bilateral relations are not only deep-rooted and time-tested, but have entered a new era of modern cooperation as both countries are making new strides in technological cooperation and revitalizing geo-economics.

He was addressing the Distinguished Lecture Series, titled ‘Diplomatic Reflections’ at Islamabad Policy Research Institute (IPRI). 

The learned scholar who holds a PhD in ‘Tafsir and Hadith’ and had worked relentlessly for Islamic solidarity and campaigned against Islamophobia, called for greater unity among the Muslim world and hinted at reigniting a new spirit in the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation (OIC). 

The Ambassador of Turkiye said that the proposed neo-alignment between Turkiye, Iran, Malaysia, Qatar, and Pakistan for advocating a new forum of Islamic states is very much on the cards, and must be looked into as a mark of congenial cooperation without any division. 

At the same time, he stressed the utility of OIC and pointed out the efforts presently being undertaken by it to address the imbroglio and massacre in Gaza. He hoped that the Foreign Ministers’ moot in Cairo would be a success, and something positive would emerge out of it.

He blamed the United States for Israeli transgression and said that it is acting as the biggest obstacle in resolving the Palestinian crisis.

He, however, regretted that the volume of trade between the two countries is not up to the potential, as they are well behind the $1 billion mark. He hoped that the same should surpass well above $5billion, and urged upon the trade and commerce bodies to work together for greater integration and initiatives.

He pointed out at the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) signed between the two countries, and was relieved that it is operational at the moment and is making headway in renewed cooperation. Nonetheless, he saw hurdles in its way and the prime to obstruct are geopolitical fissures as the region is in turmoil.

Ambassador Pacaci said that more than 50 Turkish companies are presently operating in Pakistan, and hoped that many more are in the pipeline as there is immense potential of trade and investment in industrial and other ventures. 

He also mentioned the versatility of defence cooperation which has touched new heights with the production of four warships by Turkey. “Two warships will be manufactured in Istanbul and two more at Karachi Shipyard. One has already been churned out into the high seas,” he proudly added.

Mr Pacaci said that similar cooperation in educational and cultural spheres are a landmark of commonality, and added that more than 13,000 students are benefitting from seven schools and 10 Turkish campuses in Pakistan. 

Pointing out at the Istanbul-Tehran-Islamabad (ITI) railway network, he said that there are multiples odds to confront, such as the meter-gauge and broad-gauge issues. “With Pakistan still with the old gauge railway lines, the smooth movement comes to a halt,” he observed. 

Likewise, he said that sanctions on Iran from the US and Europe act as an impediment in realising the trilateral railway feast.

Talking about the refugee crisis, Ambassador Mehmet Pacaci observed that “terrorism is at the root-cause of all ills.” He said that there is much to learn and share between Pakistan and Turkiye, as both are home to refugees’ exodus owing to geopolitical upheavals.

About the ongoing Israeli onslaught on Gaza, Pacaci observed that “a mechanism is being construed and Turkiye is proactively engaged in it to address the human catastrophe and ensure a permanent solution.” He blamed the United Nations for failing to do its job, and advocated a two-state solution on the borders of 1967 in the Middle East.

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