Turkey aims for $1bn trade with Pak­istan

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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.

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