Pakistan and Turkey enjoy very warm diplomatic and bilateral relations spanning over 60 years now.
During the period, both countries have shared strong military & economic ties, however, there is much more potential in trade.Furthermore, Pakistan has lot more to learn from Turkish model of a country developed on the basis of modernism and secularism keeping Islam at its roots.Since its inception, Pakistan has maintained cordial relations with Turkey, which are based on identical religious, cultural and geo political factors.
Turkey was among the first few countries, which developed diplomatic relations with Pakistan. On the other hand, Muhammad Ali Jinnah, Founding Father of Pakistan also showed his admiration for founder of modern Turkey and showed his willingness to develop Pakistan on Turkish model of Modernism and Secularism.
Since then, both the countries have remained close to each other having strong economic and military relations. The bond between Turkey and the Muslims of South Asia goes back to eighteenth century. The Turks still remember the support given by the Muslims of subcontinent during Turkey’s war of independence. These feelings of brotherhood and solidarity were further strengthened after the independence of Pakistan.
It is a matter of great satisfaction that Pakistan and Turkey have traditionally enjoyed close relations exemplified by regular visits from dignitaries of both countries and shared opinion on global and regional issues. But unfortunately economic relations between Pakistan and Turkey do not match the potential that the two nations can achieve. There is enormous potential for increasing cooperation in economy, trade, tourism, and science and technology. The two countries are blessed with huge reserves of natural resources and have large number of man power.
Although, Turkey has already invested in numerous projects in Pakistan, which also includes chain of schools and colleges under the name of Pak-Turk International School, there is room for greater Turkish investment in Pakistan and for joint projects. Recently, the two governments have signed treaties for environment protection, road building and transport services, which show Turkish commitment towards Pakistan. It is for the Government of Pakistan to follow up the current developments and make sure that they attract Turkish investments in other areas as well. It is also expected that this cooperation will also allow Pakistan to tackle the chronic issues like energy crisis with the help of investments from Turkey.
Pakistan and Turkey have been members of Developing 8 (D-8) countries and Economic Cooperation Organization and have strong trade ties. According to a rough estimate, currently the trade volume between the two countries stands at around $700 million, which does not give the true reflection of brotherly ties between Pakistan and Turkey. However, both countries have shown their resolve to increase this to Rs. One billion in the coming days. Pakistan’s major exports to Turkey include textiles, leather products and sports goods. Major imports from Turkey include machinery, rubber products and electrical appliances.
Both Pakistan and Turkey enjoy strong private sector in their respective economies and have a market of more than 200 million people. The government should play a role of a catalyst to build a partnership between the two countries thus enabling the private sector to flourish and reduce dependency on American and European markets.
The Pakistan-Turkey Joint Economic Commission and the Joint Business Council provide ideal forums for productive interaction between our public and private sectors. The foundations of Turkey-Pakistan relations are secure and strong. However, the modern day world demands that we expand our horizons and take our relations to new heights. To further strengthen our political relations, we need to build and consolidate bilateral institutional linkages. – Waqas Iqbal
Writer is a banker by profession.