Turkey aims for $1bn trade with Pakistan
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan stressed that his country aims to raise the volume of trade exchange with Pakistan to $1bn. Addressing at the Pakistan-Turkey High Level Strategic Co-operation Council, the Turkish president said the trade volume between the two countries is below its true potential. “Turkey and Pakistan only have a bilateral trade volume of $800mn. We must increase it $1bn in the first phase and then later to $5bn,” he said.
Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said yesterday that he would help Pakistan stay off a terrorism financing blacklist at a meeting of a global finance watchdog, a move that he suggested would counter “political pressure” from Islamabad’s critics.
The Financial Action Task Force (FATF), which tackles money laundering, told Islamabad late last year that it could face blacklisting if it continued to apply inadequate controls over terrorism financing.
The FATF is meeting next week in France, and support from Turkey and longtime allies like China, Malaysia, and Saudi Arabia could help Pakistan remain off the blacklist.
A minimum of three votes are required for any country to escape the blacklisting.
If it joined the blacklist alongside Iran and North Korea, Islamabad would face sanctions and economic setbacks at a time when its economy is struggling with a balance of payment crisis.
“We will be supporting Pakistan at the Financial Action Task Force meetings, where Pakistan is subject to political pressure,” Erdogan told a joint session of Pakistan’s parliament a day after he arrived in Islamabad. “We will continue to support Pakistan at FATF despite pressures.”
The FATF already has Pakistan on its “gray-list” of countries with inadequate controls over curbing money laundering and terrorism financing.
However, India, which came close to war with its nucleararmed neighbour last year, wants Pakistan blacklisted.
Of 40 recommendations made by the watchdog, Pakistan had fully complied with only one, largely complied with nine, partially complied with 26, and totally missed four parameters, which were mandatory if Islamabad wanted to be removed from the gray-list, a review by the group last year said.
The FATF says that Pakistan should adequately identify, assess and understand risks associated with militant groups operating in Pakistan such as Islamic State group, Al Qaeda, Jamat-ud-Dawa (JuD), Lashkare-Taiba and Jaish-e-Mohamed (JeM), which continue to raise funds openly.
Pakistan says that it has made a significant improvement on the requirements since the last review by the FATF.
Islamabad says it has seized the groups’ assets and put the militants on trials, like the entire leadership of the JuD, including its chief Hafiz Saeed, the alleged mastermind of the 2008 Mumbai attacks in India, which killed 166 people.
In a move praised by Washington as an important step forward, Saeed was jailed for 11 years on Wednesday on terrorism financing charges.
Pakistan remained committed to the earliest completion of its FATF action plan, Minister for Economic Affairs Hammad Azhar tweeted on Wednesday.
Erdogan arrived in Pakistan on Thursday with his ministers, government officials and heads of private companies to improve strategic and economic ties.
In his address to the National Assembly (NA) and Senate of Pakistan’s bicameral parliament, the Turkish president said that he is thankful and happy to have had the opportunity to address the joint session of the parliament in Pakistan.
“I am thankful for this opportunity. I am thankful to each of you individually for allowing me to address this joint session of Parliament,” he said.
Erdogan further thanked the
Pakistani people and leadership over the warm welcome he was accorded upon arrival.
“It is my pleasure to speak to you. I am thankful to you for giving me the opportunity to address this house.” “While in Pakistan, I feel like I am at home,” he said.
“Today, Pakistan and Turkey’s relations are admirable for others. During difficult times, Pakistan has supported Turkey,” Erdogan added.
“Our friendship is based on love and respect. Pakistan’s pain is our pain,” he president remarked.
Speaking about the issue of Kashmir, the Turkish president said that Indian-administered Kashmir meant to Turkey exactly what it had meant to Pakistan over the years.
“The relationship between Pakistan and Turkey will continue in the future like it has in the past,” he added.
The Turkish president last addressed a joint session when he visited the country in late 2016.
The ruling Pakistan Tehreeke-Insaf (PTI), which was in opposition at the time, had boycotted the session of the parliament that Erdogan addressed.
In a statement, the party had said then that it did not consider Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister at the time, as a legitimate ruler.
However, this time all the opposition parties attended the special session convened for the Turkish president.
Former NA speaker and senior leader of Sharif’s Pakistan Muslim League – Nawaz (PML-N), Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, had pledged that opposition parties in the parliament would attend a joint sitting of the house yesterday morning.
He had said that the Turkish president is a guest of all of Pakistan, not just the PTI’s: “Therefore, we will be present in the parliament session to hear his address on Friday.”
Sadiq had said that the opposition would never repeat a precedent set by the PTI. “Pakistan has excellent relations with the Turkish president, which tremendously improved during the tenure of the PML-N government, as Ankara strengthened economic relations as well.”
Erdogan addressing the joint session of parliament in Islamabad.
In this handout picture released by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO) yesterday, Erdogan is seen with Prime Minister Khan during an agreement signing ceremony in Islamabad.