By Islamuddin Sajid
ISLAMABAD, Pakistan (AA) – Ankara's ambassador to Pakistan on Thursday hailed strong relations between the two countries, ahead of Turkish Foreign Minister Mevlut Cavusoglu's visit to Islamabad.
Speaking to Anadolu Agency, Mustafa Yurdakul said: “Pakistan and Turkey already enjoy exemplary and historic relations based on heritage, culture, religion and there are very strong bonds.”
Cavusoglu will arrive in the Pakistani capital late on Thursday for a two-day visit.
During his visit the Turkish foreign minister will meet his Pakistani counterpart Shah Mehmood Qureshi, President Arif Alvi and Prime Minister Imran Khan.
This is the the first visit by a top Turkish official to the country following the formation of the new government.
Yuradkul added that the Turkish government's aid campaigns and the joint defense projects of both countries bear witness to the strength of bilateral ties.
In February, Turkey opposed a move by the U.S. and U.K. in a Paris meeting of the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) to place Pakistan on a list of countries which have failed to stem terror financing.
Last month, Pakistan stood behind Turkey to oppose the "unilateral sanctions imposed by the U.S. on Ankara over the detention of an American pastor over terrorism charges".
– Student exchange programs
The number of Pakistani graduates from Turkish universities is set to increase in the coming years.
“The numbers of Pakistani students are increasing in Turkey and the Turkish Republic of Northern Cyprus which show both countries have very close people to people contact and we wish to strengthen it even more through education programs," the ambassador said.
– FETO schools
The Turkish government has opened an office of Maarif Foundation in Islamabad for the smooth takeover of FETO-linked schools in the country.
“We are working closely with Pakistani authorities in order to transfer FETO schools to Turkey,” Yurdakul informed.
Pakistani authorities say some local have filed cases against the handover in courts and the government is waiting for the verdict.
Turkey established the Maarif Foundation in 2016 to take over the administration of overseas schools linked to Fetullah Terrorist Organization (FETO).
FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the July 15 coup attempt in Turkey, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.
Ankara also accuses FETO of being behind a long-running campaign to overthrow the state through the infiltration of Turkish institutions, including the military, police, judiciary, and schools.
– Trade relations
The trade volume between Turkey and Pakistan was around $650 million by the end of 2017, while Turkey intends to improve this volume to $1 billion.
"Pakistan and Turkey are not competitors but two brothers and we want to improve our trade relations with Pakistan to increase the current volume from millions to billions of dollars,” Yurdakul said.