PM Shehbaz paying two-day solidarity visit to quake-hit Turkey

In a special gesture of solidarity and support, Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif is paying a two-day visit to Turkey to express his condolences over the loss of lives and devastation in the quake-hit country.

Turkish Ambassador to Pakistan Mehmet Pacaci and Consul-General Amir Ozbe saw off the PM at the Lahore airport on Thursday.

Turkey is reeling from the massive destruction and loss of lives in the wake of the cataclysmic earthquake that hit the Eurasian nation and neighbouring Syria on February 6, killing nearly 40,000 people and wiping off buildings from the ground.

As per a statement issued by the Foreign Office, during his stay in Ankara, the PM will meet Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to personally convey heartfelt condolences on behalf of Pakistan over the loss of precious lives and the widespread damage caused by the earthquake.

The prime minister will reiterate Pakistan’s firm commitment to stand by the Turkish people during these difficult times and to continue extending all possible support to the ongoing relief effort, the statement read.

He will also visit earthquake-affected areas in southern Turkey, and interact with the Pakistani search and rescue teams deployed in the area as well as survivors of the earthquake.

The FO further stated that after the tragedy befell Turkey, PM Shehbaz Sharif had spoken with President Erdogan and assured him of all possible assistance for rescue and relief effort.

It said that all available resources have been fully mobilised to help the quake victims and the premier was personally overseeing the relief effort.

"Pakistan and Turkey enjoy deep fraternal ties. [The] two countries have resolutely stood by each other during every trial and tribulation," the FO concluded.

The premier's visit was initially scheduled days after the quake, however, it was postponed to a later date.

In response to the deadly earthquake, PM Shehbaz Sharif also announced the establishment of a relief fund to help victims.

Erasing entire towns, the violent quakes displaced millions of people and left millions more who stayed behind living in rubble, huddling around bonfires in the freezing weather and facing shortages of medicine.

Few buildings have survived unscathed, and amenities such as toilets and showers all but vanished when the first tremor struck before dawn on February 6. 

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