Sharif’s ‘hasty’ trip to Turkey delayed amid quake relief efforts

— Pakistan sends aid to Turkey and Syria as deaths surpass 9,000 

ISLAMABAD: Shehbaz Sharif’s planned visit to Ankara to express solidarity with Turkish leadership following Monday’s devastating 7.8-magnitude earthquake that struck parts of the transcontinental country and Syria has been postponed, a minister said Wednesday.

The prime minister was scheduled to embark on the trip on Wednesday, accompanied by a 51-member rescue team and armed with a fund established to aid in the relief efforts.

A multi-party conference, convened originally on Friday 7 to discuss the resurgence of terrorism in Pakistan but eventually pushed to February 9 without any justification, was also postponed for a second time for the same reason.

A new date for the rescheduling of the conference has not yet been determined.

Meanwhile, according to the latest estimates, the death toll from the earthquake in the two nations has now surpassed 9,000.

The Turkish disaster agency has confirmed that 6,957 people have lost their lives within the country.

The exact number of casualties in Syria remains challenging to verify, however, both the state media and a local rescue group have estimated that approximately 2,500 people have died.

Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the president of Turkey, is scheduled to visit the provinces of Kahramanmaras and Hatay on Wednesday, his office has announced. He will also go to Pazarcik, a town and district in the southern part of Kahramanmaras and the epicentre of the quake, according to BBC.

He has declared a three-month state of emergency in the 10 provinces worst affected.


Back home, the first batch of relief goods from Pakistan has reached Turkey, according to the government.

While civil servants in ranks 18-22 will contribute a day’s salary to the prime minister’s fund set up Tuesday, Marriyum Aurangzeb, the information minister, announced the federal cabinet has decided to contribute one-month compensation.

Separately, Pakistan International Airlines (PIA) transported on Wednesday over 21 tonnes of relief goods to Turkey and Syria. Two planes, carrying 7.4 and 14 tonnes of aid, respectively, departed from Islamabad in the morning to Istanbul and Damascus.

The shipment to Damascus also included winter tents and blankets aimed at offering protection to those affected by the flood and harsh weather conditions.

On Tuesday, the first batch of relief items from Pakistan arrived in Ankara, as announced by a Pakistan Air Force (PAF) spokesperson.

Muhammad Ahmad Saad
Muhammad Ahmad Saad
The writer is a member of the staff.


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