ANKARA - Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif received the news of blast in an under-construction building in Lahore’s Defence area while he was in a one-on-one meeting with his Turkish counterpart Bilanli Yildirim in Turkish capital Ankara.

Understandably, it must not have been easy for the prime minister to receive the report of explosion in his hometown, which is also the hub of his political party. But, without showing any sign of panic, he directed his staff to keep him informing about the developing situation and went along with his meeting without any break.

After this, he came for the accords signing ceremony and a joint press conference with Premier Yildirim. During the one-hour-long ceremony and interaction with media, Prime Minister Nawaz maintained his composure and kept smiling while Turkish prime minister read out his statement.

Some discomfort was visible among the members of his delegation. One federal minister quipped to another: “Some people are talking about early return of the prime minister to Pakistan later this evening.” But the protocol officials kept denying any change in Premier’s schedule.

During the luncheon hosted by the Turkish prime minister Nawaz Sharif was seen wearing a broad smile. He hinted with his finger at the cut-glass chandelier hanging over head and asked a Turkish minister if it was made in Turkey.

The media persons accompanying him on this tour were running out of patience to interact with the prime minister and elicit his views about the Lahore blast and ask he would rush back tonight to Lahore, instead of landing in Islamabad tomorrow as per the plan.

After the luncheon meeting, as the prime minister’s motorcade arrived at the hotel where he was staying along with members of his entourage, Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif decided to talk to the media, and he kept composed during this time as well.

Tariq Fatemi, the Special Assistant of PM on Foreign Affairs when asked to comment on prime minister’s reaction to Lahore blast, said the prime minister remained firm as he informed the participants of a meeting about the chilling incident.

PM media talk

Speaking to the media persons accompanying him on the tour to Ankara, Nawaz said those behind the new wave of terror were the elements who have failed to stomach the consistent progress that Pakistan was making. He said he was pained to hear the sad news of innocent citizen getting killed in the blast in Lahore.

“Those behind such blasts would never succeed in defeating us in our resolve to eliminate terrorists and extremists”, he said.

Talking about the launch of Radd-ul-Fasaad military operation, the Premier said he and the military leadership finalised this decision and every effort would be made to achieve the objectives of this nationwide effort through application of all resources.

“For the last two and a half year since the launch of Operation Zarb-e-Azab, my government has been fully committed to eradicate terrorism and extremism in all its shade and colours”, he said.

Nawaz Sharif said the terrorists would not succeed in sabotaging the hosting of the Pakistan Super League final in Lahore and staging of the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO) Summit in March – which would be attended by the heads of states and heads of governments.

“Inshallah both these mega events will be held on time!” he remarked, urging the nation not to lose the hope with these terror incidents.

The prime minister said involvement of foreign hand in terrorist activities in Pakistan could not be denied. To a question, he agreed that Afghanistan’s soil was being used against Pakistan, adding that Islamabad had lodged a formal complaint with the Kabul government.

He said the situation along Afghan borders was being closely monitored, and “we are vigilant and will take action against subversive elements”. He said Pakistan was in favour of stability in Afghanistan, which was also in its own interest.

PM Nawaz said that Pakistan and Turkey were closely cooperating with each other against terrorists and their facilitators and this joint action would continue uninterrupted.

APP adds:

The PM said Pakistan’s enemies were scared of its stable economy, overcoming of power crisis and the China-Pakistan Economic Corridor. He said had momentum of Pakistan’s journey of progress continued uninterrupted, the country would have achieved the goals of prosperity.

To a question on relations with India, the prime minister said he wanted to have friendly and good neighbourly relations with New Delhi. He said even during his election campaign, his party did not adopt the policy of `India bashing’ and ended this negative tradition.

“We [Pakistan and India] should maintain good relations and avoid involving in conspiracies against each other,” he said.

The prime minister said Pakistan was grateful to Turkey for its support on Kashmir issue and also on its stance about Pakistan’s inclusion in Nuclear Suppliers Group.