Turkish President, Recep Tayyip Erdogan, yesterday called the newly-appointed Pakistani Prime Minister, Shehbaz Sharif, to congratulate him, causing outrage amongst many supporters of the ousted former Prime Minister, Imran Khan.
According to a statement by the Turkish Presidency’s Directorate of Communications, Erdogan congratulated Sharif’s victory and “wished that the election results will be beneficial for the friendly and brotherly people of Pakistan”.
He assured that the two governments will continue to enjoy strong relations and that Ankara is closely following developments in Islamabad. The President also emphasised his view that the transition of power – following the ousting of Khan on Saturday due to a parliamentary no-confidence vote – shows the strength of Pakistan’s democracy.
Sharif, the younger brother of thrice-appointed former Prime Minister, Nawaz Sharif, hailed at parliament yesterday the “unbreakable bonds between Turkey and Pakistan.” He especially praised the stance of the Turkish government – under the leadership of Erdogan’s Justice and Development Party (AKP) – against the Indian occupation of Kashmir over the years, saying that “Turkey has always stood by Pakistan and the people of Kashmir.”
As the Head of the Pakistan Muslim League (PML-N) party, Sharif joined forces with the other opposition parties – the centre-left Pakistan People’s Party (PPP) and the conservative Jamiatul Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F) party – to oust Khan, reportedly with the support of Pakistan’s military-led establishment. Sharif is expected to appoint members of those parties to his cabinet in the coming weeks.
Meanwhile, Khan and lawmakers from his Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf (PTI) party have announced that they were resigning from parliament and “taking to the streets against an imported government.”
The past few days have been marked by massive protests throughout Pakistan, with PTI supporters stating their opposition to Khan’s removal and the incoming government, which they view as consisting of politicians who have long been involved in corruption and family-led political dynasties over the decades – practices Khan was opposed to.
Many of Khan’s supporters have expressed feelings of outrage, surprise and betrayal at Erdogan’s swift congratulation of Sharif’s appointment, as the Turkish President and former Pakistani Prime Minister seemed to share a close relationship and cooperated in various regional projects and visions throughout the past few years.