ISLAMABAD - Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan arrives in Islamabad today (February 13) aiming to enhance bilateral cooperation between Pakistan and Turkey to new heights.

The foreign ministry said the Turkish President was visiting Pakistan on the invitation of Prime Minister Imran Khan from February 13-14.

“President Erdogan will be accompanied by a high-level delegation comprising cabinet members and senior government officials, as well as heads and Chief Executive Officers of leading Turkish corporations,” said the details released by the foreign ministry.

The visit of President Erdogan, the ministry said: “Will serve to underscore the traditional solidarity and affinity between the two countries, and prove to be another significant milestone in the further deepening and broadening of the flourishing Pakistan-Turkey strategic partnership.”

During the visit, Prime Minister Imran Khan and President Erdogan will have tete-a-tete, after which they will co-chair the 6th Session of the Pakistan-Turkey High Level Strategic Cooperation Council in the joint cabinet format. At the conclusion of the session, a Joint Declaration will be signed. A number of important agreements and Memorandums of Understanding expected to be concluded. The two leaders will have a joint press stakeout.

“President Erdogan will separately meet with President Dr Arif Alvi. President Erodgan will also address a joint session of parliament of Pakistan. Together with Prime Minister Imran Khan, he will address the Pakistan-Turkey Business and Investment Forum which brings together leading investors and business-people from both sides,” the foreign ministry statement said. 

The High Level Strategic Cooperation Council is the highest level decision-making forum, providing strategic direction to further strengthening of relations between the two countries. There are seven joint working groups working under the hlscc, focused on political coordination; trade and investment; energy; banking and finance; transport and communications; culture and tourism; and education. So far, 5 sessions of the HLSCC have been held, alternately in Islamabad and Ankara, the statement said.

Erdogan and a delegation of Turkish businessmen and top investors are expected to hold comprehensive trade talks with their Pakistani counterparts, and various important agreements could be finalized. Exploring new opportunities in trade and further synchronising military relations are primary purposes behind the visit.

Pakistan can expect more Turkish investment. Significantly, Prime Minister Imran Khan recently said he intends to involve Turkey in projects related to the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. Ankara’s inclusion in the megaproject could open new possibilities.

A strategic economic framework and free trade agreement have also been under consideration and, if finalized, could help increase trade volume.

During this visit, officials will consider and perhaps sign an agreement to grant dual citizenship to Turks and Pakistanis. Acknowledging both countries’ longstanding ties, Pakistan plans to commemorate this year the centenary of the Khilafat (caliphate) movement of the 1920s. Started on the Indian subcontinent in support of the Ottoman Empire, this part of history binds the Turkish and Pakistani nations.

Various new military training programmes are being planned. Some law enforcement equipment is to be upgraded, and according to a statement by Pakistan’s Ministry of Interior, it “welcomed the initiative of introducing a patrolling force in collaboration with ICT (Islamabad Capital Territory) Police.”

Having an annual military and air force training exchange programme since 2000, Turkey also helps maintain Pakistan’s fleet of F-16 aircraft. Bilateral defence and security cooperation was upgraded with some landmark defence deals in 2018, and these days Turkey is Pakistan’s second-biggest arms supplier after China. In the past decade, almost 1,500 Pakistani military officers have been trained in Turkey.