ANKARA (Rahnuma): Ankara will continue to stand in solidarity with Pakistan, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said on Friday.
“Turkey stands with Pakistan today and tomorrow, as it did yesterday, and will continue to stand with it,” Erdogan told a joint news conference with Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan at the presidential complex in the capital Ankara.
Erdogan said Turkey’s “Pakistani brothers” also stand in strong solidarity with Ankara.
Erdogan praised a recent Pakistani Supreme Court ruling recognizing the Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO) as a terror group.
“The declaration of FETO as a terrorist group by the Supreme Court in Pakistan and delivery of the [FETO-linked] schools to our Maarif Foundation…These are welcomed steps,” he added.
Turkey established the Maarif Foundation in 2016 to assume the administration of overseas schools linked to FETO. It also establishes more schools and education centers abroad.
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016 in Turkey, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, including the military, police, and academia.
FETO has a considerable presence abroad, including private schools serving as a revenue stream for the terror group.
Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan to meet in Istanbul
Erdogan announced that a trilateral meeting between Turkey, Pakistan, and Afghanistan will be held in Istanbul after Turkey’s March 31 local elections.
Khan, for his part, said Pakistan has already been helping a dialogue between the Taliban and the U.S., but a much stronger effort from all stakeholders and neighbors is needed.
“I look forward to the summit meeting later in Istanbul, where we hope that Afghanistan, Pakistan and Turkey will be able to help this peace process,” he said.
On Turkey-Pakistan relations, Khan said his grandfather’s generation, then in India, raised funds to support Turkey in its fight for freedom.
He said it passed through generations, from his grandfather to his father and to Khan, referring to Pakistan’s connection with Turkey.
“The affiliation, the love, the connection between Pakistan and Turkey has always been there. I want to stress that we want to take this relationship to a much higher level,” Khan stressed.
Pakistani PM said that is why he came to Turkey with a strong delegation, including ministers.
He said both Pakistan and Turkey face security threats against them and Pakistan wants to enhance ties with Turkey in every sphere.
“I go back knowing that Pakistan and Turkey from now on move much closer,” Khan said.
Khan said Pakistan has a plan to build five million houses in the next five years and it wants to benefit Turkey’s experience in construction sector.
Pakistan has three parallel systems of education and they want to have one core syllabus, he said.
Khan added: “I had very interesting talks with you about how we would improve our education system.”
He said the human rights abuses going on in Kashmir are just alienating the people and he discussed it with Erdogan as well.
“Stability will only take place when Pakistan and India sit down and resolve the differences,” Khan added.
Premier said that terrorism has been vastly reduced in Pakistan, adding, his hope that it can be eliminated with the help of Iran, Afghanistan and Turkey.