ISLAMABAD - Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani on Monday thanked his Turkish counterpart Recep Tayyip Erdogan for his address to the joint session of parliament and termed it another milestone in the long and glorious journey of friendship and brotherhood between the two countries.
In his remarks after the Turkish prime minister’s address, Gilani said the strength of immutable friendship between the two peoples was accurately reflected in the spiritual bonds between “Pir-e-Rum” and his “Murid”, Allama Mohammad Iqbal, the poet-philosopher of Pakistan.
He said, “Pakistan is a young country. But we are an old nation. Our unique relationship with Turkey began much before Pakistan emerged on the world map as an independent country in 1947.”
Recalling the Khalafat Movement, the prime minister said it had a special significance in the history of Muslim struggle in the South Asian subcontinent.
Gilani said, “It’s a very special occasion to welcome my brother Recep Tayyib Erdogan, prime minister of the Republic of Turkey, Her Excellency Madam Emine Erdogan and accompanying delegation to the joint sitting of the Parliament for the second time in three years.”
Recalling his address to the Grand Turkish National Assembly in December 2010, Gilani said, “I fondly remember the warm and enthusiastic welcome extended to me by the honourable members of the Grand Turkish National Assembly.”
Gilani said the world was witnessing breathtaking progress that Turkey had made under the charismatic and wise leadership of Prime Minister Erdogan.
“We appreciate the way Turkey has emerged as a modern society while retaining the distinct features of its glorious culture and great heritage,” he added.
The prime minister said Turkey was also emerging as a role model for the Islamic World in terms of the recent political and constitutional reforms which had helped in strengthening democracy and harmonizing roles of the state institutions.
Gilani said, “We are keen to learn from the experience of our Turkish brothers in every field.”
He said the huge reservoir of goodwill among the peoples and the bipartisan consensus that exists in both the countries provided a unique opportunity to build a sound and mutually beneficial partnership between them.
He said it was in this backdrop that Erdogan and he signed the historic Joint Political Declaration on “Intensified Cooperation and the Establishment of the High Level Cooperation Council (HLCC)” in Islamabad on October 25, 2009.
The prime minister said initiative had given a new impetus to cooperation in diverse fields.
“Last year, our bilateral trade crossed the $1 billion mark and we are endeavouring to reach the target of $ 2 billion by the end of this year,” he added.
Gilani said the Currency Swap Agreement signed in November last year was a major step in this direction.
Gilani said tomorrow he would co-chair with Prime Minister Erdogan the second session of the High Level Cooperation Council (HLCC).
He said the first session was held in Ankara in December 2010 and it was a unique forum representing a virtual joint sitting of the cabinets of the two countries.
Gilani said the HLCC was preceded by the Joint Ministerial Commission which completed its proceedings on Monday.
“We are determined to steer our partnership to even greater heights in the coming years,” he added.
He said he would like to avail of this opportunity to thank the people and the government of Turkey for the generous and prompt assistance extended to the victims of unprecedented floods 2010 in Pakistan.