What to expect from Prime Minister Imran Khan’s maiden visit to Turkey next week

News Analysis |

As per the Foreign Office statement, Prime Minister of Pakistan will travel to Turkey for a two days official visit on the invitation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. The Prime Minister will be accompanied by the Foreign Minister Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Minister of Planning Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiyar and Advisor to Prime Minister Abdul Razak Dawood. The statement read that the visit would further enhance the brotherly and historic relations between the people of both countries and open new avenues of mutual cooperation in different spheres.

It will “also help to explore new areas of cooperation and collaboration between the two countries, particularly in the area of economic, trade and commercial relations”, it added. The people-to-people connection of both the countries goes way back. But in recent times, when Turkey was facing one of the worst quarrels it had with the United States of America for decades after detaining the pastor Andrew Brunson, then Prime Minister-elect Imran Khan tweeted and expressed unconditional solidarity with Turkey.

Pakistan was in dire need of a more inclusive foreign policy, which for way too long was U.S.-centric and detrimental for long-term economic and geopolitical prospects.

On behalf of the people of Pakistan & myself, I want to let President Erdogan & the people of Turkey know we are praying for their success in dealing with the severe economic challenges confronting them, as they have always succeeded against adversities in their glorious history”, the tweet said.

The moves, especially given that Turkey was in a brawl with the USA, hinted at the discourse which the state of Pakistan under the leadership of Imran Khan was going to take. Pakistan was in dire need of a more inclusive foreign policy, which for way too long was U.S.-centric and detrimental for long-term economic and geopolitical prospects of Pakistan.

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Similarly, in February, when even the closest allies of Pakistan China and Kingdom of Saudi Arabia backed out at the last moment, Turkey was the only opposing country which stood by Pakistan against the U.S. motion to put Pakistan on the grey list of Financial Action Task Force. The fact that the Minister of planning and the advisor for economic affairs are accompanying the Prime Minister of Pakistan suggest that a part of the visit might entail securing some direct or portfolio investment from the Turkish investors.

The prime minister during his visit will also address a business forum and meet Turkish businessmen and potential investors during his stay in Ankara, the Foreign Office statement stated. Though it might all be in vain, informing the Turkish investors about the vast potential and return on investment for a growing Pakistani market given the state of the Turkish economy, it is not expected that breakthrough investments would follow.

When the Turkish Lira plunged as the result of U.S. sanction, the government urged and in a show of patriotism the people of Turkey followed its entreats and started to sell dollars in their possession, a trend which was followed all over the world in support of Turkey. Therefore, in the current environment of economic instability in Turkey hopes for foreign investment should be kept low.

The statement read that the visit would further enhance the brotherly and historic relations between the people of both countries and open new avenues of mutual cooperation.

Another potential issue of discussion could be work on a coordinated Muslim response to the blasphemous anti-Islam caricatures; this reiterates the need for a revamped and robust Organization of the Islamic Council. However, since the member states of OIC are in a state of disarray due to internal and interrelated national interests, there are vast issues in the Muslim world which remain unaddressed and practically nothing has been done in this regard.

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Imran Khan, and especially the Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan share a vision of uniting the Islamic countries, particularly on matters which are common between all Muslim countries. Therefore, there is a possibility that the visit might result in steps in this direction. There is a vast potential for the collaboration of both countries in defense production, especially in the aerospace and air weaponry industries.

Turkish capacity and resources in the research and development of state of the art weaponry coupled with the workforce and extended knowledge of Pakistan in recent years could work wonders for both countries. However, the absence of Minister of Defense Production Zubeida Jalal from the visiting delegation suggests that the avenue is most likely to go unexplored in this visit.

The approach of the incumbent government has been to broaden the range of options for Pakistan in terms of geopolitical lobbying and economics. The relations between both the countries have historically been brotherly, and under the leadership of Imran Khan and Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the hopes are high.

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