ANKARA: A large number of distinguished guests participated in the reception hosted by Pakistan’s Ambassador to Turkey Sohail Mahmood in Ankara on 23rd March as part of the National Day celebrations. Senior Turkish civil and military leadership, leading businessmen, media representatives, Pakistani community, and diplomats based in Turkeyattended “Pakistan Day” reception.
The Minister for National Defence of Turkey, Mr. Fikri Işık, was the chief guest on the occasion. Other high-level guests included Deputy Chief of Turkish General Staff General Umit Dundar, Deputy Minister for Foreign Affairs Mr. Ahmet Yıldız, Deputy Minister for EU Affairs Mr. Ali Şahin, Deputy Minister of Economy Mr. Fatih Metin, Chairman of Saadat Party Mr. Temel Karamollaoğlu, Chairman of Grand Union Party Mr. Mustafa Destici and Head of Turkey-Pakistan Parliamentary Friendship Group Mr. Muhammet Balta.
Minister for National Defense Fikri Işık in his speech said that he witnessed closely the cordial hospitality of the people of Pakistan during his recent visit to Pakistan. He said we always keep in our hearts alive the history of Turkish-Pakistan unity and brotherhood. He termed relations between Pakistan and Turkey as exemplary and said both countries have close defence ties. The Minister said Turkish people will never forget the material and spiritual support given by the Muslims of subcontinent during the Turkish War of Independence and the solidarity shown by Pakistan during the 15 July coup attempt and afterwards, he added.
Ambassador Sohail Mahmood, in his remarks, underscored the fraternal ties between Pakistan and Turkey and noted that these relations were unique for the warmth, cordiality and mutual trust. He noted that both countries were working to transform these cordial ties into a robust economic partnership. He informed that the negotiations on a comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (FTA) were in the final stages. The Ambassador added that steps were being taken to further promote investments, increase defence collaboration, and intensify cultural cooperation and people-to-people exchanges. Referring to the year 2017, which marks the 70th Year of Pakistan-Turkey Diplomatic Relations, he stated that a series of events would be organized in the coming months to celebrate this milestone. He thanked the brotherly people and Government of Turkey for their invaluable support for all these efforts.
Guests were served Pakistani cuisine prepared by executive chefs invited especially from Pakistan. A “Pakistan Food Festival” also commenced with the National Day reception. The food festival shall continue until 26 March 2017.
A stamps exhibition from the private collection of former parliamentarian Mr. Arsan Savaş Arpacıoğlu was organized on the sidelines. Historical stamps issued by both Pakistan and Turkey on different occasions, stamps issued while Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) was operative, and Mustafa Kemal Ataturk’s handwritten book “The Speech” were on display. A photography exhibition of Pakistan was also on display to mark the “Pakistan Day.”
Seperately, Turkey’s traditional Mehter Band participated in the Pakistan Day Parade on 23rd March in Islamabad. Later in the day, Istanbul University’s Chairman of Urdu Department, Prof. Dr. Halil Toker, received “Sitara-e-Imtiaz” from President Mamnoon Hussain during the investiture ceremony at Aiwan-e-Sadr in recognition of his services for the promotion of Urdu language and literature and Pakistan-Turkey cultural cooperation.