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> PILDAT undertakes Study Visit of the Pakistan Parliamentary Committees on Defence to Turkey: November 14-19, 2009
Study Visit to Turkey
November 20, 2009


The study visit of Pakistan Parliamentary Committees on Defence to Turkey that took place from November 14-19, 2009 was facilitated by PILDAT to provide an interaction between Pakistani and Turkish counterparts at the Parliamentary and other levels, and provide avenues of learning and understanding from each others’ perspectives on the broad objectives of civilian and Parliamentary oversight of the defence sector.


The Pakistani delegation included Senator Mir Jan Muhammad Khan Jamali, Deputy Chairman, Senate of Pakistan (Balochistan, Pakistan Muslim League-PML); Mr. Faisal Karim Kundi, MNA, Deputy Speaker, National Assembly of Pakistan (NA-24, D.I.Khan, NWFP, Pakistan Peoples Party, PPPP); Senator Lt. Gen. (Retd.) Javed Ashraf Qazi, Chairperson, Senate Standing Committee on Defence (Punjab, Pakistan Muslim League-PML); Begum Ishrat Ashraf, MNA, Member National Assembly Standing Committee on Defence (NA-372-Punjab-I, PML-N); Capt. (Retd. ) Rai Ghulam Mujtaba Kharral, MNA, Member National Assembly Standing Committee on Defence (NA-143, Okara-I, Punjab, PPPP); Mr. Iftikharullah Babar, Special Secretary/Secretary to Defence Committee, Senate of Pakistan; Mr. Ahmed Bilal Mehboob, Executive Director, PILDAT and Ms. Aasiya Riaz, Joint Director, PILDAT.


Pakistani delegation interacted with the H.E. Mr. Abdullah Gull, President of Turkey on November 17, 2009. In a call-on with the Turkish President, the Pakistan delegation briefed the President of the objectives of the visit and conveyed a message of friendship and need for Parliamentary support and closer cooperation between Pakistan and Turkey.


President Gul highlighted that Turkey has always been and will remain a close friend of Pakistan. Pakistan is going through a difficult phase in terms of war against militancy and extremism but it’s a great nation and a great country which has ample capacity to rid itself of problems. In addition to political and security-related cooperation between the two countries, there is need to increase and strengthen economic and trade cooperation.


In a meeting with H.E. Mr. Mehmet Ali Sahin, Speaker Grand National Assembly of Turkey, extended warm welcome to the Pakistani delegation and reiterated the strength of the brotherly relations between Pakistan and Turkey. He said that the two countries enjoy ‘exemplary relations at the political level as well and parliamentary exchanges will further enhance the deep ties existing between the two countries. The Speaker also praised the role of PILDAT as a Pakistani organisation committed to strengthening democracy and democratic institutions in Pakistan and said that the facilitation of this visit will further cement relations between the two brotherly countries. He emphasised that Turkey will always remain a friend and supporter of Pakistan.


The Pakistan delegation had begun the study visit by an introductory Roundtable Discussion on November 16, 2009 at Istanbul. The roundtable, organised as part of the Study Visit by PILDAT to provide orientation to the delegation about the overall scenario prevailing in Turkey, was titled Turkey’s Transition to Democracy from Military Rule: Lessons and Future Challenges. Experts who spoke at the roundtable included Mr. Sanar Yurdatapan, Non-Government Sector; Active in setting-up joint Parliamentarian-NGO committees; Ms. Hale Akay, Economist and the coordinator of the Security Almanac; Prof. Ergun Yildrim, professor of Sociology at the Istanbul Technical University and Prof. Bekir Berat Ozipak, professor at the Istanbul Tijarat University. The speakers shared their views and assessment on the current nature of civil-military relations in Turkey, the role played by civilian political and democratic institutions in oversight of the defence sector in Turkey and its effectiveness, challenges and opportunities of civilian oversight of defence/security sector in Turkey and the role is played by business, media and civil society in Turkey in security sector oversight.


The delegation held a meeting with the Turkish Minister of National Defence H.E. Mr. M. Vecdi GÖNÜL, MP discussing with him the relationship of the Defence Ministry with that of the Commission of National Defence. The Minister explained that the Commission of National Defence does not review the defence budget but the combined budget of all ministries is reviewed by the Plan and Budget Commission. In a candid exchange between the delegation and the Minister, subjects such as Turkey’s Role in Nato forces in Afghanistan, Pakistan’s security concerns and policies, etc. were also discussed.


The delegation held detailed meetings with the chairs and members of the National Defence Commission of Turkey, the Plan and Budget Commission, the largest commission (committee) in the Grand National Assembly of Turkey, and the Interior Affairs Commission. The Pakistani delegation asked questions about the oversight mechanisms, powers and procedures available to the Turkish commissions, especially relating to defence and intelligence oversight and the budget scrutiny from their Turkish counterparts. The Turkish Commissions, that reflect the composition as in the Assembly, are all chaired by the ruling AK Party chairpersons and therefore received information about opposition chairing Pakistani Parliamentary committees with appreciation. The chairs of the three committees including Mr. Mustafa Açikalin, Chair of the Plan and Budget Commission, Mr. Hasan Kemal Yardimci, Chair of the National Defence Commission, Mr. T. Ziyaeddin Akbulut, Chair of the Interior Affairs Commission echoed the warmth and friendship that is the hall-mark of Pak-Turk friendship and said that parliamentary exchanges between the two countries will allow both Parliaments to benefit from each others’ experiences.


Interactions were also held with the leaders of the various political parties represented in the Turkish Grand National Assembly including Mr. Onur ÖYMEN, Vice-Leader of the People's Republic Party, the leadership of the DTP, the party working for the rights of Kurds in Turkey and Mr. Mustafa Elitas, the Vice Chair of the ruling AK Party. The meetings were held for the delegation to gauge the views and perspectives of the key parliamentary parties on the broad question of military’s role in politics and their perspectives on effectiveness of democratic and parliamentary oversight of the security sector in Turkey.

The delegation also visited the headquarters of the AK Party and interacted in detail with the Secretary General of the party Mr. Idris Naim Sahin about the organisation and the various structures working within the party, the party’s philosophy and the key areas of its focus, the initiative of deepening democracy with the Kurds, party’s work in the local government, etc.

The delegation held a detailed interaction and meeting with the Chairperson and members of the Pak-Turkey Friendship Group in the Turkish Grand National Assembly. The group is the largest friendship group in Turkey with 377 MPs as its members out of the total 550 MPs in the Grand National Assembly. Mr. Burhan Kayaturk, the chairperson of the Group, who has also studied and obtained engineering degree from Pakistan, welcomed the delegation and stated that he is 51% Pakistani and 49% Turk which is evident of his commitment to the Pak-Turk friendship. Later the delegation was hosted for lunch by Mr. Kayaturk.

The delegation was also hosted at the residence of the british Ambassador to Turkey H.E. Mr. Reddaway and The two sides shared their perspectives on civil-military relations In Turkey and subjects of mutual interest including cooperation in war against extremism and terrorism.

The delegation was hosted to a dinner by Pakistan’s Ambassador to Turkey on November 17, 2009 and by HURSIAD, the Association of Independent businessmen on November 18, 2009. Including the Chairman Mr. Rahmi BIYIK, the Hursiad had invited key media personalities from various media groups to interact with the delegation. The delegation reiterated the need for greater trade and business-related cooperation between Turkey and Pakistan.

The Study Visit was part of the overall PILDAT programme of “Research and Dialogue to Improve Civil-Military Relations in Pakistan” which is supported by the Foreign and Commonwealth Office, UK, through the British High Commission, Islamabad.


Pakistan Delegation with Turkish President Mr. Abdullah Gul


Delegation meeting the Turkish President Mr. Abdullah Gul


In meeting with the Speaker Turkish Grand National Assembly


Delegation Meeting the Chair of Plan and Budget Commission


In Meeting with the National Defence Commission


Deputy Speaker presenting Memento to Turkish Speaker


Pakistan Delegation with the Chair and Members of the Interior Commission


Pakistan Delegation at the Roundtable Discussion in Istanbul