The issue of Kashmir is as important to Turkey as it is to Pakistan, President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan said on Friday, noting that Turkey has not forgotten the Pakistani people's help during the Turkish War of Independence.
Addressing a joint session of the Pakistani parliament, Erdoğan thanked Pakistan for always standing beside Turkey in times of crisis.
"And now, we feel the same about Kashmir today. It was Çanakkale yesterday and Kashmir today; there is no difference between the two," Erdoğan said, adding that Turkey will continue to support Pakistan.
Erdoğan also mentioned how Turkey raised the Kashmir issue at the U.N. General Assembly last September, in the wake of a lockdown in Indian-administered Jammu and Kashmir.
He said the suffering of the Kashmiri people had worsened in recent years due to the taking of "unilateral steps."
"This approach, which aggravates the current situation and revokes the freedom and vested rights of the Kashmiri people, benefits no one," Erdoğan said.
"The Kashmir problem can be solved not by conflict or oppression, but on the basis of justice and equity," he added.
"Turkey is in favor of resolving the Kashmir issue by taking into consideration the expectations of our Kashmiri brothers, through dialogue based on UN resolutions," Erdoğan also said.
His remarks come some seven months into a lockdown on Jammu and Kashmir, the Indian-administered section of the disputed Kashmir region, a move widely decried by human rights groups as well as the global Islamic community.
Jammu and Kashmir are held by India and Pakistan in parts and claimed by both in full. A small sliver of Kashmir is also held by China.
Since they were partitioned in 1947, the two countries have fought three wars – in 1948, 1965 and 1971 – including two over Kashmir.
Some Kashmiri groups in Jammu and Kashmir have been fighting against Indian rule for independence or unification with neighboring Pakistan.
According to several human rights organizations, thousands of people have reportedly been killed in the conflict in the region since 1989.
The president also said Turkey appreciates Pakistan's contribution to the peace process in Afghanistan, as he noted that Turkey will continue to support Pakistan in its fight against terrorism.
Partnership with Pakistan
Erdoğan also underlined that the relations between Pakistan and Turkey are based on true brotherhood, solidarity and fraternity, and Pakistan has shown that it is a true friend of Turkey with its stance on Gülenist Terror Group (FETÖ) and support for the anti-terror operations in Syria.
Praising Pakistan for standing beside Turkey in times of crisis, Erdoğan said Pakistan has been a true friend of the country as it closed FETÖ-linked schools in the country and supported Turkey's anti-terror operations in northern Syria to secure its borders.
Pakistan stands with Turkey's righteous cause, he said, referring to Turkey's anti-terror Operation Peace Spring launched last October in northern Syria, despite others who work to protect terrorists.
In his record fourth address to Pakistan's parliament, Erdoğan also addressed the situation in Idlib, northwestern Syria, saying that Turkey is working to protect millions in the province's de-escalation zone from Assad regime barrel bombs.
"The goal of the steps we've taken in Idlib in recent days is to prevent 4 million oppressed people from dying under the barrel bombs of the (Assad) regime. Turkey's top priority is to stop the bloodshed, demolition, oppression and tears in all conflict zones from Libya to Yemen," Erdoğan said.
Erdoğan said no boundaries and no distance can drive a wedge between Muslims.
"Wherever they are in the world, it is our duty to share the grief of our Muslim brothers and sisters and stand by them if they are persecuted. Because oppression includes giving consent to oppression, regardless of its origin," he said.
During its 2016-2019 presidency of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), Turkey actively engaged in all matters concerning the Islamic community, he said.
"We showed a very honorable and stable stance against the attacks of Israel on Jerusalem," he added.
Appreciating Pakistan's efforts to combat terrorism, the president said: "Pakistan is a country that has suffered from instability, terrorism and conflicts in its region. As a country that has been fighting separatist terrorist organizations including Daesh, the PKK and FETÖ for 35 years, we understand the challenges Pakistan faces and we will continue to support Pakistan in its efforts against terrorism."
The YPG/PKK has taken some 40,000 lives in its more than 35-year terror campaign on Turkey, and FETÖ infiltrated national institutions to launch a defeated coup attempt against Turkey in 2016.
Pakistan PM hails Erdoğan's speech
Pakistan's Prime Minister Imran Khan applauded Erdoğan's speech at the joint session of Parliament in the capital Islamabad.
"Today, Mr. President (Recep Tayyip Erdoğan) made a historic speech in the Pakistani parliament and I can say you can win the next election in Pakistan after this address," Khan said in a lighter mood at the Pakistan-Turkey Business and Investment Forum.
Khan said Erdoğan won the hearts of Pakistani people with his speech.
The Pakistani prime minister noted that all parliamentarians – including those in the opposition – appreciated Erdoğan's speech.
"It's a great tribute to you, Mr. President. It shows the love and affection that people have for you in Pakistan," Khan added.
Later in the day, Khan thanked Erdoğan for his support on the Kashmir issue, adding that nearly 8 million people are living in an open prison in Kashmir.
"There are currently attacks against Turkey in Syria, Pakistan will always stand with you on this issue," he added.
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