Pakistan backs Turkey's anti-terror fight in Syria

– Prime Minister Imran Khan thanks visiting Turkish President Erdogan for stand on Kashmir at joint presser

By Aamir Latif

KARACHI, Pakistan (AA) – Pakistan stands with Turkey in its fight against terrorism in Syria, Prime Minister Imran Khan said Friday.

His remarks came at a joint news conference, the last of the three events scheduled in Islamabad, during Turkey's President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's two-day visit to the country.

"Recently, attacks were carried out against Turkey [in Syria]. Pakistan always stands with Turkey on this issue,” Khan said.

Khan thanked Erdogan for "raising voice for the oppressed Kashmiris" during his address in the Pakistani parliament earlier in the day.

"Eight million Kashmiris live in an open-air prison," he said, adding that the decades-old dispute with rival India on Kashmir could only be resolved based on the UN resolutions.

Khan said a new era of trade cooperation has started between the two countries with the signing of a string of memoranda of understanding (MoU).

Apart from Kashmir, he noted, Ankara had supported Islamabad on the issue with the Financial Action Task Force (FATF), a global watchdog on terror funding.

FATF has put Pakistan on its gray list with three countries — Turkey, Malaysia, and China — pushing for its removal.

The Pakistani premier expressed his desire to collaborate with the Turkish media industry to counter rising Islamophobia.

“Besides politics, our cooperation is also necessary because Turkey has an advanced film industry. We want to develop content with them to address Islamophobia so that we can take a stand against the incorrect portrayal of Muslims," he said.

– 'Second home'

Calling Pakistan his "second home", Erdogan said the Turkish state and nation are standing in solidarity with the Kashmiri people.

"Turkey stresses the Kashmir issue should be solved through dialogue on the basis of the UN decisions and in line with the expectations of the Kashmiris," he said.

Erdogan added Turkey is ready to do "what is necessary" to improve relations between Pakistan and Afghanistan.

With Pakistan, he said, Turkey has long-lasting relations in the military and defense sectors.

"As Turkey, we are ready to give all kinds of support on transportation, energy, tourism, cleaning, law enforcement services, education and health sectors which would directly effect the economical and social developments of Pakistan," Erdogan said.

He praised Pakistan's staunch support to Turkey in its anti-terror operations in Syria.

"Taking over FETO-affiliated schools in Pakistan by Turkish Maarif Foundation is a symbol of solidarity between us. On this occasion, once again, I would like to thank my brother Imran for the measures taken against the FETO structure in Pakistan," he concluded.

FETO and its U.S.-based leader Fetullah Gulen orchestrated the defeated coup of July 15, 2016, which left 251 people martyred and nearly 2,200 injured.

FETO has a considerable presence abroad, including private schools which serve as a revenue stream for the terror group.

These schools abroad are being transferred to the Turkish state-run Maarif Foundation.

*Burak Bir contributed to this report from Ankara