ANKARA (Turkey) - Prime Minister Imran Khan Thursday said it was high time that Pakistan and Turkey took their bilateral trade to a high level, citing Pakistan’s ideal geo-strategic location and its huge potential for investment in infrastructure and tourism.

Addressing the Turkish businessmen at a business forum organised by the Union of Chambers and Commodity Exchanges of Turkey (TOBB) here, the prime minister said that Pakistan was a virgin territory as a lot of trade areas had not yet been exploited and hardly five percent of total mineral reserves could yet be explored.

TOBB is the highest legal entity in Turkey representing the private sector with 365 member associations from local chambers of commerce and industry.

The prime minister is in Turkey on two-day official visit, at the invitation of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Prior to landing in Turkish capital, he visited Turkish city of Konya where he visited the tomb of renowned jurists and Islamic scholar Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi and laid a wreath at the grave.

He is accompanied by a high level delegation including Foreign Minister Makhdoom Shah Mehmood Qureshi, Finance Minister Asad Umar, Planning Minister Makhdoom Khusro Bakhtiar, Adviser on Trade Abdul Razak Dawood and Special Assistant to PM Zulfikar Bukhari.

The prime minister said huge reserves of oil, gas, copper, coal were yet unexplored.

He said as Pakistan was undertaking huge connectivity projects under China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI), the issue of huge distance impeding Pak-Turkish trade would be resolved.

He said both the countries should start working from now to benefit from the huge opportunities coming out of BRI as it would connect those parts of the world which had been no or less connectivity.

The prime minister said out of 210 million population of Pakistan, around 120 million were below 35 years of age which, besides being a great potential, also required job opportunities.

He said as another advantage, Pakistan was ideally connected with the world’s two biggest markets including China and India.

He said Pakistan was on the verge of fixing its governance system and was bringing ease of doing business and cutting its costs. He assured the Turkish investors that under redefined policies, the government would allow the investors to make money as it would create wealth thus bringing employment opportunities for the youth.

He said Pak istan was also embarking on a gigantic project to build five million housing units and Turkish construction companies were welcome to invest there too. Special Economic Zones being developed with China under Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) was another great opportunity to invest, he added.

The prime minister told the Turkish businessmen that Pakistan was one of the most diverse countries in tourism with being home to half of the world’s 12 highest mountain peaks. It is also a center of Buddhism, Sikh, Hindu tourism and was rich of the oldest Indus Valley Civilization.

Citing centuries old ties between Turks and this region, the prime minister said Turks had been the part of ruling elite for hundreds of years and the people of sub-continent donated money when Turkey was fighting for its independence.

Later, the prime minister, along with his team also responded to the questions from the audience.

Earlier, Imran Khan visited the mausoleum of Hazrat Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi in Konya, along with his delegation, and offered Fateha besides laying a wreath and ‘chaddar’ at the mazar.

Paying homage to the great saint and scholar of the Muslim world, the prime minister said that Jalaluddin Rumi was among the great Sufi saints, whose several books on spiritual topics were masterpiece and lasting forever, a statement issued by the PM Office here said.

The prime minister also visited the symbolic grave of Allama Iqbal located in Maulana Rumi’s graveyard and mixed up with the local people.

In his brief meeting with the governor of Konya, the prime minister said “We take pride in our exemplary brotherly relations with Turkey.” Efforts were being made to take this relationship to newer heights, he added.

The prime minister said the people of Pakistan had great love for the people of Konya and hold Maulana Jalaluddin Rumi in great reverence. He said the spiritual message of Maulana Rumi had served to unite humanity from all religions and all walks of life.

He said the national poet of Pakistan Allama Muhammad Iqbal was the spiritual disciple of Maulana Rumi. Iqbal’s philosophy has been inspired by Rumi’s message of love and self-individuation.