Pak-Turkey friendship, moving forward in the form of model villages built for the flood-affected across Punjab, is a cause of pride and satisfaction for the people of both countries. Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan deserves praise for ensuring that the Punjab government received every help for completing the projects in time.

So far, 1,885 of these model houses have been completed and their possession given to homeless victims of the flood by the Punjab government across seven districts of the province. Construction of more villages is underway. As their name suggest, model villages are indeed model villages; equipped with playgrounds, mosques, clean drinking water, shopping centres, schools, hospitals etc. What makes Turkey especially qualified for these projects is first the country’s own experience of dealing with natural disasters, particularly earthquakes. And second is the country’s pre-eminence in the field of construction. It has a large number of construction companies setting up infrastructure, such as dams and roads. The Punjab government under Chief Minister Mian Shahbaz Sharif asked for help that was promptly responded to positively, as these villages bear testimony. Hopefully, these areas of bilateral cooperation and mutual interest will also receive the full attention of the leadership. It is a matter of great relief that the goods train between both the countries is functional and the passenger train, named Gul, will soon be on the rails. It will go a long way in enhancing cultural and tourism ties, that would renew the link between both the brotherly nations that go back to the days of the Khilafat. In an act of altruism, Turkey also dispatched the world’s largest electricity generating ship, with generation capacity of 232 MW of electricity to rescue Karachi from agonisingly long blackouts. Of late President Zardari and Foreign Minister Hina Rabbani Khar were in Turkey to boost ties after visits by Turkish top leadership. As the Foreign Minister rightly said, the potential of trade should be tapped. Turkey is one of the fastest growing economies of the world and Pakistan can gain a lot by expanding the quantum of trade with it.

At this point in time the idea of model villages should be expanded to other provinces, notably Sindh that too is hit by floods. Leaders from Sindh also need to follow in the footsteps of Punjab Chief Minister who has gone to Turkey to cement bilateral relation. He has been working with Turkish friends to rehabilitate flood-hit Pakistanis.