Turkish President Erdogan to address joint session of Parliament today

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ISLAMABAD: Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, who is on a two-day official trip to Pakistan, will address the joint session of the Parliament today at 11am.

The Turkish president last addressed a joint session when he visited the country in late 2016.

The ruling Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf, which was in opposition at the time, had boycotted the session of the parliament Erdogan addressed. In a statement, the party had said that it did not consider Nawaz Sharif, the prime minister at the time, as a legitimate ruler.

However, this time all the opposition parties will attend the special session convened for the Turkish president.

Former speaker of the National Assembly and senior leader of the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), Sardar Ayaz Sadiq, on Thursday said that opposition parties in the parliament would attend a joint sitting of the house scheduled for Friday morning.

According to the report published in The News, Sadiq said that the Turkish president was a guest of all of Pakistan and not only the PTI. “Therefore, we will be present in the parliament session to hear his address on Friday,” he said, alluding to the PTI boycott of 2016.

He said the opposition would never repeat a bad precedent set by the PTI. “Pakistan has excellent relations with the Turkish president, which tremendously improved during the tenure of the PML-N government as Ankara strengthened economic relations as well.”

Sadiq admitted that the relations between the government and the opposition had improved since the events of 2016. “But while opposing the government, we have not lost senses and are in no mood to cross all limits. Our participation in the joint sitting will give an excellent message to President Erdogan,” he noted.

He added that the Turkish president stood out among the world leaders in supporting Pakistan when India annexed occupied Kashmir in August last year. “Not only that, he has been backing the Kashmir cause all along, which Pakistanis value a lot,” he said.

Ayaz Sadiq said that the opposition parties undoubtedly considered Imran Khan as a selected prime minister who had clinched this office as a result of fake general elections, but they would still be in attendance in the joint sitting to show respect to President Erdogan.

“We have many opportunities and forums to settle political scores, but not when a foreign friend is speaking to the parliament,” he remarked, referencing a statement made by PM Imran back in 2016 in which the premier had said he had no personal differences with Erdogan.

Friday prayers as Faisal Mosque

In addition to addressing a joint session of the parliament, the Turkish president is expected to visit the iconic Faisal Mosque in Islamabad on Friday afternoon for the Jumma prayers.

PM Imran and Turkish President Erdogan will also address a Pak-Turk business and investment forum in Islamabad, before holding a joint conference in the federal capital.

During his two-day visit to the country, Erdogan will meet the top leadership in Pakistan, as well as parliamentarians and business leaders to discuss ways to enhance the bilateral relationship between the two countries.

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