PM addresses Turkish Grand National Assembly; terms Pak-Turk collaboration vital for two democracies

ANKARA : Prime Minister Syed Yusuf Raza Gilani Tuesday said Pakistan wishes to take its relations with Turkey to a higher level, with an aim to transform them into an enhanced 21st century partnership in political, security, economic and cultural domains.Gilani is the first Pakistani head of government to address the Turkish Grand National Assembly, which was also attended by Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, Speaker Mehmet Ali Shaheen.The Prime Minister said the cultures and civilizations of Pakistan and Turkey have germinated from centuries of intense mutually enriching interplay.“It is a relationship predating our modern States, an affinity transcending generations. Our people’s affection for Turkey is spontaneous, their love, deep and sincere,” he said.“There may be a distance of thousand miles between Jinnah Cadesi in Ankara and Ataturk Avenue in Islamabad, but there are no spaces between our hearts. We are one nation living in two states.”Prime Minister Gilani said he felt honoured to address the august House, as the Turkish Grand National Assembly since its inauguration 90 years ago has been a symbol of modern Turkey’s path to greatness.

He also mentioned conferment of prestigious “Jamhuriyat Nishan” on him as a “great honour” by Turkish president Abdullah Gul.Gilani urged collaboration between the parliaments of Pakistan and Turkey and termed it vital for the two democracies. He said there was a need to intensify cooperation through regular exchange of parliamentary delegations.He appreciated the excellent role played by the strong Pakistan-Turkey Parliamentary Friendship Group led by energetic Burhan Kayaturk for forging closer linkages between the two Parliaments.He congratulated Turkey for embarking upon a comprehensive constitutional reform process for strengthening its democratic institutions and admired the Turkish leadership for evolving a national consensus on this important issue.“We are indeed proud that Turkey today stands tall in the global arena and is widely respected for its valuable contributions to regional and global peace and development. We in Pakistan rejoice in your successes. We regard your strength as our strength,” he said.He mentioned that in Pakistan, his government, through a landmark Constitutional Amendment Bill which enjoyed support of all political parties represented in the parliament, had started a reform process in accordance with the priorities and aspirations of the people of Pakistan.“We remain committed to the ideals of democracy, freedom of expression and protection of fundamental human rights, and the creation of a just welfare society as envisioned by our founding fathers,” he said.Gilani termed socioeconomic development as Pakistan’s strategic priority which the government was carrying out through economic reforms, and by promoting intra-regional and trans-regional development cooperation.

The Prime Minister appreciated the Turkish assistance to Pakistan to cope with the challenge of recent floods, and said “in this tragic disaster, our resolve was strengthened, spirits lifted and hopes revived by the extra ordinary solidarity, support and generosity shown by the people of Turkey.”He mentioned that warm feelings of amity and concern were expressed across the length and breadth of Turkey for their flood-stricken Pakistani brethren.“From the Turkish children to the highest leadership; from the young student from Konya who donated her doll and her entire pocket money to the retired old man who gave away his entire pension, we are touched,” he said.He hoped that the session of High Level Cooperation Council (HLCC) would prove an effective forum to achieve the two countries’ shared objective and give a fresh impetus to economic relations and translate the excellent political relations into more tangible gains in trade, investment and commercial fields.He expressed the confidence that the target of trade volume between the two countries would increase and shall far exceed the target of two billion dollars bilateral trade by 2012 – the target set by him and Prime Minister Erdogan.He said Pakistan was today facing the threat of terrorism and extremism, and the people of Pakistan its soldiers had rendered countless sacrifices in the fight against terrorism. He quoted former Prime Minister late Mohtarma Benazir Bhutto, who said “we are prepared to risk our lives, but we are not prepared to surrender this great nation to militants.”He urged the Islamic world embark on a journey of Renaissance – a journey for socioeconomic uplift of their masses.Gilani also referred to the spiritual bond between Maulana Rumi and Allama Iqbal that epitomizes the essence of Pak-Turk relationship. He said the two great thinkers who lived centuries apart, shared a common thread of spiritualism.He stressed following the Iqbal-Rumi message that focused on learning to see and thinking in a new way – a timeless prescription for rebirth and renewal; an elixir for our times – App