ISLAMABAD: Turkey on Wednesday assured Pakistan of support in the rehabilitation and reconstruction in the flood affected areas of the country and hoped the international community would join in the colossal effort.
Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan who specially flew into Pakistan last night to meet the flood affected people, following Pakistan’s worst ever natural calamity said the sorrows and joys of the people of Pakistan were felt equally by the people of Turkey.
Prime Minister Yousuf Raza Gilani appreciated Turkey’s support to Pakistan in its hour of need and lauded the “exceptional gesture of solidarity” by the people and government of Turkey.
At a breakfast meeting with his Turkish counterpart at the PM House, Gilani was also appreciative of the visit of the wife of Turkish Prime Minister for visiting Pakistan to express solidarity with the flood victims.
He also thanked the “generous and substantial funds” of US $ 200 million; $ 126 million of which were donated by the Turkish business community and people for PM’s fund for the flood affected.
Gilani commended Turkey as the first country for starting building of pre-fabricated home villages for the flood affected in Nowshera and 2000 more for 10,000 affected people in Muzaffargarh.
He expressed gratitude to the wife of Turkish PM for mobilising the international community for the flood victims.
Prime Minister Erdogan assured the Prime Minister that his government and people would steadfastly stand by their Pakistani brethren during the process of rehabilitation and reconstruction.
Prime Minister Gilani said his government and people will never forget Turkey’s exceptional support during and after the devastating floods and recalled that Turkey similarly stood by Pakistan in rehabilitation and reconstruction of earthquake affected areas in 2005.
The Prime Minister briefed his Turkish counterpart on the efforts for rehabilitation and recovery in the flood affected areas and apprised him about the establishment of the National Oversight Disaster Management Council (NODMC) under the auspices of the Council of Common Interest.
Gilani said the NODMC has been tasked to ensure that required resources for the onerous task of rehabilitation and reconstruction are collected and disbursed transparently, efficiently, effectively and equitably.
The Prime Minister said the economic impact of the floods was colossal and hoped the damage need and assessment report of World Bank and ADB would be finalised during the week. He said the cost of rehabilitation and long term reconstruction was expected to run into tens of billions of dollars.
The Prime Minister said Pakistan would be sharing its national strategy for rehabilitation and reconstruction with the development partners in the forthcoming meeting of the Pakistan Development Forum next month.
Gilani sought Turkey’s support to its national efforts to rebuild lives and properties of its people and added that Pakistan was greatly encouraged by Turkey’s offer for getting involved in reconstruction of infrastructure in Pakistan.
Gilani dilated on the cordial ties between the two countries rooted in centuries old bonds of history, culture and religion, and said his government was determined to build upon the existing excellent relations with Turkey on geo-economic advantages and take them to unprecedented level.
He said both countries should strive to raise level of trade to two billion US dollars by 2012 and said the Turkish government should encourage its private sector to collaborate closely with its Pakistani counterparts in key sectors like construction, infrastructure, engineering, energy, agriculture, telecommunications, mining and textile etc.
He urged the opening of branches of Turkish Banks in Pakistan to strengthen trade and investment ties, besides upgrading rail and road links between the two countries and running of fast cargo trains between Islamabad and Istanbul on a regular basis. He hoped both countries will engage with Iran for the early up-gradation of rail and road links to fast track this project.
Prime Minister Erdogan invited Prime Minister Gilani to visit Ankara next month to participate in the second High Level Cooperation Council Meeting to steer their unique partnership for expanded cooperation in multifaceted fields.
Erdogan agreed with Gilani that Pakistan alone cannot face the enormous challenge of rehabilitation and long term reconstruction of the devastation caused by massive floods.
He hoped international community would realise the magnitude of economic difficulties faced by Pakistan to meet this challenge