Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s address to Parliament on Monday was his second, reflecting not only the regard in which he and his country are held, but also the durability of his party, which won another term for him at the last general election. He has also established a record for addressing Pakistani Parliaments, in an address in which he traced the roots of the relationship between the two countries, using their respective national poets, Allama Iqbal of Pakistan and Maulana Rumi of Turkey, as symbols. Prime Minister Yousaf Raza Gilani referred to the Khilafat Movement, when the Muslims of the Subcontinent protested the British destruction of the Caliphate. Prime Minister Erdogan also took the opportunity of saying that opposition should not be carried out just for the sake of opposition, but should point the flaws in governance. While this may well be interpreted as a gesture of support for the Gilani government, it is a democratic truism, and could also apply to the PPP in opposition.
An aspect of the relationship that Mr Erdogan referred to was mutual trade. Both Prime Ministers expressed the target of raising it to $2 billion this year, and it is to further this goal that a Bilateral Investment Treaty has been signed. It is because of this too, that the team of ministers accompanying Mr Erdogan is looking at the obstacles to Turkish investment, such as the Pakistani bureaucracy, high taxes and high tariffs. These obstacles need to be removed not just because they block Turkish investment, but all, including domestic. Turkey has much to offer Pakistan in the area of technology transfer, a symbol of which is the waste management deal, signed on this visit, between a Turkish company and Karachi.
Turkey is also a well respected member of NATO. The timing of his visit is undeniably advantageous in resolving the crisis of suspension of NATO land routes. In his address, he gave an inkling of home that an apology from NATO may yet be forthcoming. As a model statesman and leader of a prosperous, pluralistic and well respected country in the comity of nations, we could do well to take Mr Erdogan’s advice. After all, this is the man who has kept even his generals limited to protecting, not governing the county. A fine example for Pakistan.