By Aamir Latif
KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – Pakistani politicians, civil society and social media activists have formally launched a three-day “Buy Lira” campaign across the country in solidarity with Turkey, which is facing financial pressures following the detention of an American pastor.
Many Pakistanis rushed to the local money changers to buy the Turkish lira in capital Islamabad, Karachi, Lahore and other cities.
In Islamabad, the main event was organized jointly by politicians and social media activists at the Islamabad Press Club.
Dr. Asif Luqman Qazi, son of late former Jamaat-i-Islami chief Qazi Hussein Ahmed, said: “Pakistanis and Turks are one nation. Turkey has always supported Pakistan…now Turkey needs us and we are very much there.”
He said the procurement of Turkish lira and products would continue even after the culmination of the ongoing drive.
Abdul Rasheed Turabi, a parliamentarian from Azad Kashmir, said: “We have gathered here to express solidarity with the Turkish government and Turkish people. Every country has the right to govern its affairs according to its own laws. No country has the right to interfere in other country’s affairs. Turkey has every right to defend its sovereignty.”
In Karachi, traders, social media and civil society activists, including journalists gathered outside the Karachi Press Club to express solidarity with Turkey.
“Turkish people must not consider them alone in their war against hegemony. The people of Pakistan are with them,” Karachi Small Traders Association President Mahmood Hamid, who bought 200 liras from a local money exchange from Zainab market, told Anadolu Agency.
Islamabad has already thrown its weight behind Ankara, acknowledging the latter’s “invaluable role towards regional and international peace and stability”. Prime Minister Imran Khan had also expressed support for Turkey through a tweet earlier this week.
The ongoing solidarity drive has prompted thousands across the country to buy the Turkish lira, forcing money changers to arrange for more Turkish currency to cope with the growing demand.
“We are arranging Turkish lira on an emergency basis as demand for the currency has shot up in the last few days,” Khalid Hussain, an official at the Piracha Money Exchange Karachi, told Anadolu Agency.
“Previously, the lira had not been a popular currency in Pakistan, that’s why we had a limited stock. But the demand for Turkish liras registered a sudden increase in recent days,” he said.
Last week, one lira was being sold for 21 Pakistani rupees in Pakistan. Currently, one lira is being sold for 25 rupees, according to Hussain, who added that in the black market, it’s even higher, going up to 28 rupees.
Turkey and the U.S. are currently experiencing rocky relations following Washington’s imposition of sanctions on two government ministers for not releasing American pastor Andrew Brunson, who faces terrorism-related charges in Turkey.
On Aug. 10, President Donald Trump ramped up his attack on Turkey by doubling U.S. tariffs on Turkish aluminum and steel imports.
Last Wednesday, in retaliation, Turkey increased tariffs on several U.S.-origin products, including alcohol and tobacco products and cars.