Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif has become the target of much criticism for planning an ill-advised visit to Turkiye. The visit, however, has been postponed, which has further sparked backlash for the prime minister.
According to the details, the prime minister was scheduled to visit Turkiye to offer condolence to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan over massive human and material loss due to the devastating earthquakes. Foreign Minister Bilawal Bhutto was to accompany him as well.
As soon as the announcement of the visit was made, Prime Minister was heavily criticized for what is being termed an “ill-advised” visit. Pertinent to mention that Turkish authorities are busy in the rescue and relief operations after the horrific earthquakes which have caused the death toll to nearly 8,000.
Amid this, PM Shehbaz received criticism for not taking into account the emergency situation in Turkiye. Those critical of the visit said Turkiye does not need to state visits, it needs assistance, and Shehbaz Sharif should prioritize economic and social calamities at home.
The last thing Turkey wants at a time like this is to look after state guests. Please send relief staff only.
— Azam Jamil اعظم (@AzamJamil53) February 7, 2023
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif and Bilawal Bhutto Zardari visiting Türkiye is a ridiculous idea. Türkiye doesn’t need state visits, Türkiye needs volunteers to rescue people buried under debris, EMTs, medical assistance, people trained to help in disaster areas.
— Mehr Tarar (@MehrTarar) February 7, 2023
Even with the noblest of intentions, PM Shehbaz’s visit to Turkey falls in the category of disaster tourism.The hosts need to focus on their national challenge.This is no time to tax their protocol.The PM should focus on his home front where multiple calamities r happening.
— Syed Talat Hussain (@TalatHussain12) February 7, 2023
However, the visit got postponed due to the engagements of Turkish authorities related to the ongoing rehabilitation efforts. The president and vice president of Turkiye are also engaged in relief activities.
Read more: Pakistani nation prays for Turkey, Syria after horrific earthquake
The news spurred speculations that Turkiye itself asked Shehbaz Sharif not to visit. This in turn led to an intense backlash against the prime minister as Turkiye allegedly barring Prime Minister Shehbaz from visiting is being considered a diplomatic embarrassment.
So reportedly , Turkish Foreign Ministry has barred Shehbaz Sharif from visiting Turkey as Relief Operations are underway.
What an utter humiliation and shame !
— MNA (@Engr_Naveed111) February 7, 2023
Utter humiliation for the insensitive rascal! Shehbaz Sharif been rebuffed by Turkey, told not to tour the calamity-struck nation! The joker just needs excuses for jaunts even when Pakistan's economy is in tatters due to him! He'd nothing to give to Turkey, but waste their time.
— Zartaj Gul Wazir (@zartajgulwazir) February 7, 2023
Turkish authorities have stopped Shehbaz Sharif from visiting turkey as relief operations are underway. Hun aram aey? Bezat hona lazmi tha? 😂😂
— Saith Abdullah (@SaithAbdullah99) February 7, 2023
چلو! کوئی رہ تو نہیں گیا جس نے عزت افزائی نا کی ہو۔ https://t.co/6Bqt4r1nJx
— Imran Khan (@ImranRiazKhan) February 7, 2023
On a separate note, Pakistan has played a remarkable role in providing assistance to Turkiye as the carries out its rescue and relief operations. Pakistan sent two aircraft carrying a 51-member search and rescue team and relief goods to Turkiye to provide assistance in rescue operations.
Pakistan had dispatched the necessary items for the victims including search and rescue teams, a 30-bed makeshift hospital, and medicines. A third plane will also leave for the quake-struck country. The rescue team includes a search squad and two technical rescue squads while a seven-member medical team has also landed in Istanbul.
Read more: Pakistan sends relief aid and rescue team to Turkey
Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif also decided to establish a relief fund to help the victims. The federal cabinet has announced to contribute one month’s salary while the PM has appealed to the philanthropists to extend help.