Pakistani PM addresses Turkish parliament

Pak PM Yousuf Raza Gilani gave a speech to the Turkish parliament that focused on strengthening already good relations between the two Muslim nations and applauded Turkey`s democratic efforts as a model for Pakistan.

Last Updated: Dec 08, 2010, 14:01 PM IST

Istanbul: Pakistani Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani gave a speech to the Turkish parliament Tuesday that focused on strengthening already good relations between the two Muslim nations and applauded Turkey`s democratic efforts as a model for Pakistan.

Gilani, who arrived in Ankara Monday for a three-day official visit to Turkey, is the first prime minister of Pakistan to address the Turkish parliament.

The Pakistani leader commended Turkey on the constitutional referendum that was passed by voters in August, saying the reforms will strengthen democracy in Turkey. He described Turkey`s constitutional reform process as a source of inspiration for Pakistan.

"We are greatly impressed by your success. My administration in Pakistan has begun a constitutional reform process that aims to be a turning point in the same way. We are continuing our commitment to the ideals of democracy and protecting freedom of speech."

The Pakistani premier thanked Turkey for its assistance during the devastating flooding that Pakistan suffered this past summer. The Turkish government sent $10 million worth of humanitarian aid to Pakistan, while Turkish business organisations and private individuals also contributed financially to the effort.

Gilani also stressed the importance of increasing trade between the two countries, saying he hoped their trade volume would reach $2 billion in 2012.

The Pakistani prime minister was scheduled to co-chair, with his Turkish counterpart, Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the inaugural meeting of a High Level Cooperation Council between Turkey and Pakistan Tuesday evening. The council is conceived of as a strategic platform to guide relations between the two countries.

In a ceremony earlier Tuesday, Turkish President Abdullah Gul presented Gilani with a state medal of honour. The Pakistani leader also visited the mausoleum of Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, modern Turkey`s secularising founder, in Ankara.

Gilani`s trip comes during a week marked so far by violence in Pakistan, where on Monday two suicide bombers blew themselves up at a government building in the tribal district of Mohmand, killing 43 people. The Taliban claimed responsibility for the carnage.

On Tuesday, a suicide bombing on a convoy transporting the chief minister of the southwestern province of Baluchistan injured nine people, though the minister was unhurt.

Gilani and his Turkish hosts are expected to discuss security issues in Pakistan and Afghanistan during the visit, which concludes Wednesday with a meeting with business leaders and a ceremony at Marmara University in which he will receive an honorary doctorate.

IANS