Turkish-Pakistani defense ties have significant potential, Turkish envoy says

MUSTAFA KIRIKÇIOĞLU @MKirikcioglu
ISLAMABAD
Published 02.11.2018 21:52

Turkey's ambassador to Pakistan, İhsan Mustafa Yurdakul, said Wednesday that cooperation in the defense industry between the two countries has great potential, and there have been talks to further enhance this collaboration with more joint military projects. "It wouldn't be wrong to say that the agreement on the Advanced Attack and Tactical Reconnaissance Helicopters (ATAK) and the corvettes, which are to be jointly manufactured, is just the beginning for military cooperation," Yurdakul told Daily Sabah in an interview. As cooperation between Islamabad and Ankara increases in the defense sector, Pakistan is set to receive 30 T-129 ATAK helicopters from Turkey, according to an agreement finalized in July.

Also, in July 2017, Turkey won the tender to supply four corvettes to the Pakistan Navy. According to the final agreement, two ships will be built in Istanbul and two others in Karachi. Two of the corvettes will join the inventory of Pakistan's naval forces in 2023 and the remaining two in 2024. Yurdakul said the process of the Maarif Foundation taking over schools belonging to the Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) is ongoing, adding that Pakistan is well aware of the significance of the issue for Ankara. "FETÖ schools in Pakistan were handed over to trustees; however, our expectation is the schools will be taken over by the Maarif Foundation," the ambassador said. In November 2016, Pakistan asked 108 teachers working in FETÖ schools to leave the country with their families. The decision included teachers working in 23 schools in the country as well as their families, totaling around 400 people. The trustees were appointed to the schools to prevent interrupting the students' education. Yurdakul said Pakistan is a significant market and also carries the potential to become a key production center with its population and strategic location.

"Turkey has investments in Pakistan in white appliances and energy. Also, Turkish construction firms have important business activities in Pakistan. Our trade volume is currently about $675 million. We are planning to work with the new government to increase bilateral trade to desired values," he said.

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