The Pakistan government has decided to fulfil the wishes of the Erdogan government prior to the Turkish President’s arrival to Pakistan on Wednesday, and is to deport Turkish teachers and staff working at the Pak-Turk schools. The schools have been a symbol of friendship and cultural exchange, but in matters of foreign policy, people-to-people contact is only a secondary concern; the real terms of the relationship are always dictated by the nature of communication between the two governments.

The move, though deemed necessary by the government, will impact the stability of the schools considering they are in the middle of an educational session. Contingency plans should have at least been made – if the government was going to relent to the wishes of the Turkish government anyway, the least it could have done is hired replacements for those being deported.

This is Erdogan’s third address to the joint sitting of parliament since 2009 – Turkey is one of Pakistan’s closest allies, with increasing contacts since the Nawaz government came into power in 2013. Add this to the Muslim connection the two countries and you have an unshakeable bond that has only seemed to grow over time. This address though, might be marred with the absence of PTI parliamentarians; the boycott has not gone unnoticed by the Turkish government, and their ambassador’s request for PTI to attend speaks volumes.

President Erdogan is known to have personal contacts with many Pakistani politicians, and Imran Khan is one of them – the PTI Chief visited Turkey in 2012 on Erdogan’s invitation. It is likely that the President might take this as an affront, but then again, Pakistani politicians do not seem too bothered by washing their dirty linen in public, even at the expense of diplomatic ties with a key ally. Obviously, this is not a make-or-break situation in the Pakistan-Turkey alliance, but this move is not likely to go down well with Tayyip Erdogan. If Imran Khan really does aspire to one day become the head of government, burning bridges with international contacts is not the best of ideas to commit to in the long run.

The only real way to move past these little hiccups in foreign policy is by ensuring that Turkey has more of a stake in what happens in Pakistan, based on economic ties. There are multiple investment opportunities opening up in Pakistan, particularly as a result of CPEC. Pakistan might be the self-proclaimed ‘second home’ of President Erdogan, but governments come and go, even if President Erdogan has been in power longer than most others. Personal contacts are always useful in the extreme, but lasting relationships are built on economic dependency between two states. A free trade agreement between the two countries has been in the pipeline since the past year. Expediting that and moving towards offering investment opportunities to Turkish businessmen visiting should be made a priority.