The issue of Kashmir is as close to Turkey as it is to Pakistan, Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan said while addressing a joint session of Parliament in Islamabad for a record fourth time.
“Our Kashmiri brothers and sisters have suffered from inconveniences for decades and these have become graver,” he said. “The Kashmir issue can be resolved not through conflict but through justice and fairness. Such a solution will be in the interest of all parties. Turkey will continue to stand by justice, peace and dialogue,” he added.
Commencing his speech, Erdogan said he was thankful to every lawmaker for allowing him to address a joint session of Parliament. “I am thankful to all of you for the way in which the people of Pakistan have welcomed us. I have never felt like a stranger in Pakistan; it has always been like a home,” he said, adding that Pakistan had always supported Turkey during difficult times.
Quoting a poem by poet Allama Iqbal, Erdogan said: “Like the poet of Lahore, people were drowning in these emotions, people of Pakistan had supported Turkey. We can never forget this.” He said the Turkish could never forget all the Pakistanis who prayed for the nation, adding, “our friendship is not based on vested interests, but on love.”
Reiterating that Turkey would always support Pakistan, Erdogan took special notice of Islamabad’s aid during recent earthquakes. “When there were earthquakes in Turkey, they [Pakistanis] supported us. I am thankful on behalf of my country for the support of Pakistan.”
Commenting on Islamabad’s success in the war on terror, the Turkish leader said Pakistan was on the path of peace and stability but noted that this takes time. “We applaud Pakistan’s efforts to rid this region from terrorism. The country has been affected by terrorism. Pakistan and Turkey are the countries that have been most affected by terrorism due to their geographic location… we will continue to cooperate with Pakistan on counter-terrorism,” he added.
Referring to Islamophobia in the West, a common point of concern for both Erdogan and Prime Minister Imran Khan, the Turkish president said it was the solemn duty of both countries to help any believers who were subjected to torture. “Especially over the past few days, when [U.S. President Donald] Trump and [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu took a step about Al-Quds,” he said, referring to the assassination of Iranian commander Qassem Soleimani. “This is not a peace plan, this is a takeover plan,” he continued, referring to Trump’s recently unveiled Middle East peace plan. “The plan of the ‘deal of the century’ is not a peace project but in fact, a project for occupation. When the American administration announced this plan as ‘the deal of the century,’ we gave the biggest reaction to this plan.”
The Turkish leader concluded his speech by praising Pakistan’s role in achieving peace in Afghanistan. “On this occasion, I would like to emphasize that we appreciate Pakistan’s positive contributions to the peace process in Afghanistan,” he said.
Ahead of his speech, Erdogan was welcomed to Parliament by National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser, who described the Turkish leader as a “true friend” and brother to Pakistan. He thanked the Turkish president and the Turkish nation for their clear and just stance on the Kashmir issue.
Members of the armed forces, government leaders, federal ministers and opposition members were all in attendance for the joint sitting of Parliament.
Erdogan arrived in Pakistan on Thursday for a two-day visit aimed at strengthening bilateral strategic partnership and economic ties. Upon his arrival, he was received at the Nur Khan Airbase by P.M. Khan and personally driven from the airport to the Prime Minister’s House.