Pakistan - Turkey Free Trade Agreement to be signed this month: Shehbaz Sharif  

Pakistan - Turkey Free Trade Agreement to be signed this month: Shehbaz Sharif  

ISLAMABAD, Dec 5 (APP): Punjab Chief Minister Shahbaz Sharif has said Turkey has steadfastly supported Pakistan and "Turkey and Pakistan are like one soul in two hearts."

Sharif told Anadolu Agency during his visit to Turkey's central Kayseri province on Sunday, a message received here Monday said.

He said Turkey and Pakistan have been consulting each other "very frequently," citing the visit by Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan last month and his address to the parliament.

"In his speech, he made it very clear that Kashmir has to be resolved on the basis of equity and fair play. He also mentioned our brotherhood."

About Turkish investments in Pakistan, Sharif said they are on the rise, particularly in Punjab, home to about half of Pakistan's population.

Sharif said there are many Turkish companies operating in the country, which is leading to a "closer" bilateral relationship.

But as for the bilateral trade volume, currently less than $1 billion, he urged: "We have to enhance it."

"I hope that by the end of this month, a free trade agreement would be finalized between our two countries," he added.

Shahbaz Sharif said "The enemy of Turkey is the enemy of Pakistan, and a friend of Turkey is a friend of Pakistan."

About Fetullah Terrorist Organization, he said, Pakistani officials are looking at the issue and taking action. He said Pakistan is "closely" following the issue.

About Kashmir issue, Sharif accused the Indian government of imposing "atrocities, hegemony and barbaric rule" against the will of the people of Kashmir.

"Kashmiri men, women, and children are giving huge sacrifices," he said and added that large numbers of innocent people in Kashmir are killed every day.

"This freedom fight would not come to an end without achieving their goals by the Kashmiri freedom fighters. That is to get their right of self-determination, to get freedom from Indian hegemony, to have Kashmir's own future," he added.

Sharif said the world must support these goals.

"Pakistan does not want any kind of tension on its borders. Pakistan wants to solve the problems between India and Pakistan on the basis of justice and fair play," said Sharif.

"Pakistan wants to solve this issue through dialogue. We want to promote and encourage dialogue."

Sharif also said the UN should convey a "very strong" message to India to respect international treaties and commitments.

"We are very clear that war is not an option," he said, adding that Pakistan has learned a great deal from the past, "because war lasted 60 years and achieved nothing [but] rather promoted poverty and unemployment, economic losses on both sides."

Sharif also said: "We have to engage with India and we have to encourage India to sit at the [negotiating] table to solve the issue."

He added that Pakistan is "grateful" to Turkey, saying, "We will welcome Turkey's role to help and provide a conducive environment and dialogue between Pakistan and India."