Turkish President addressed joint session of Parliament


ISLAMABAD: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan addressed a joint session of Parliament in Islamabad  for a record fourth time during which he reiterated his country's support for Pakistan and its stance on the Kashmir issue.

"I thank God for giving me this opportunity. I am thankful to each of you individually for allowing me to address this joint session of Parliament. I would like to convey the greeting of 83 million brothers and sisters in Turkey," said the foreign dignitary at the start of his speech.

"I am thankful for the way in which the people of Pakistan have welcomed us. Here in Pakistan we never see ourselves as strangers. We feel at home. We are here at home, together with you.

"Today, Pakistan and Turkey's relations are admirable for others [...] The much-envied Turkey-Pakistan brotherhood today, is a true brotherhood, strengthened by history and reinforced by historical events."

Erdogan recalled various events, he termed as "golden examples" that Pakistan and Turkey share in their "common history".

"In the year 1915, while the Turkish soldiers defend the Dardanelles Strait with a glorious resistance, a rally took place [...] 6,000 kilometres from the front and it was recorded on the unforgettable pages of history.

"The theme of this historical rally in Lahore Square was Çanakkale [...] On that day, Lahore Square was jam-packed with Muslims as we were struggling to survive and our brothers and sisters in this geographic [region] were also under pressure of the colonialists.

"Despite challenges and threats, they raised a huge charity for Çanakkale through the exhibitions in the square."

The Gallipoli campaign, which is also known as the Battle of Çanakkale was one of the bloodiest campaigns of the First World War that took place in what is modern-day Turkey. The campaign, which began after Allied Forces landed in the Turkish peninsula to oust the Ottoman Empire, resulted in the deaths of hundreds of thousands on both sides.

Erdogan said that in the past Pakistan had stood by his country.

"Dear brothers and sisters who else should we love and feel affection for other than you."

Quoting a poem by Allama Iqbal, Erdogan said: "Yes, like the poet, people in Lahore Square burst into tears with these moving words.

"We have never forgotten and will not forget the help, which the Pakistani people delivered, during our War of Independence by piling up their own bread.

"Events that happened a hundred of years ago in Çanakkale in Turkey are being repeated in Indian occupied Kashmir and Turkey will continue to raise its voice against the oppression.

"Our friendship is not based on vested interests but on love," he said.

"Today, the issue of Kashmir is as close to us as it is to you [Pakistanis]," he said, reiterating his support for Kashmiris.

"Like in the past, we will continue to support Pakistan in the future," he vowed.

"Following the Elaz??-Malatya earthquake, we received solidarity messages from all Pakistan, from the head of state to the citizens on the streets," he added.

"Pakistan is on the way to peace and stability; peace and stability don't come in a few days, they require work. "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 declared.

"No distance can build a wall between the hearts of believers. If there is torture against any believers in the world, it our duty to help them.

"Especially over the past few days, when [US President Donald] Trump and [Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu took a step about Al-Quds.

"The agreement of the century is not a peace project but in fact a project for occupation," Erdogan said, adding: "We said Jerusalem is our red line. We declared to the whole world that we will not leave Haram al-Sharif to the mercy of the occupying Israeli administration.

"In recent weeks, the American administration announced this plan as the plan of the century; we [Turkey] showed the biggest reaction to this plan of annexation, occupation and demolition."

"Our Kashmiri brothers and sisters have suffered from inconveniences for decades and these sufferings have become graver due to unilateral steps taken in recent times.

"The Kashmir issue can be resolved not through conflict or oppression but on the basis of justice and fairness. Such a solution will serve the interests of all parties concerned. Turkey will continue to stand by justice, peace and dialogue in the resolution of the Kashmir issue.

"On this occasion, I would like to emphasise that we appreciate Pakistan's positive contributions to the peace process in Afghanistan. As Turkey, we leant the necessary support to Pakistan and Afghanistan both of which we deem as our brothers and sisters.

"The strategic economic framework and action plan texts we will sign today will cover a wide range of industries from trade to infrastructure and constitute a road map for us," he said, with regards to today's meetings.

National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser began the session by welcoming Erdogan, who he said is a "true friend" and brother of Pakistan. He thanked the Turkish president and the great Turkish nation for their clear and just stance on the Kashmir issue.

Members of the armed forces, government leaders, federal ministers and opposition members — including Sindh Governor Imran Ismail, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa Chief Minister Mahmood Khan, Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Information Dr Firdous Ashiq Awan; PPP chairperson Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, PPP leaders Rehman Malik, Sherry Rehman and Raja Pervez Ashraf; PML-N's Khawaja Asif, Ahsan Iqbal; and Azad Jammu and Kashmir (AJK) Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider — were in attendance.

Prime Minister Imran Khan, National Assembly Speaker Asad Qaiser and Senate Chairman Sadiq Sanjrani received the Turkish president upon arrival at the Parliament.

The Turkish president arrived in Pakistan on Thursday for a two-day visit aimed at strengthening bilateral strategic partnership and economic ties.

Upon his arrival on Thursday, Erdogan was received at the Nur Khan Airbase by the premier. Prime Minister Imran personally drove President Erdogan and the Turkish First Lady Emine Erdo?an from the airport to Prime Minister House.

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