Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif on Saturday called on the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC) to convene an emergency meeting to discuss the provision of an immediate relief package for the people of Turkiye, which—along with Syria—is reeling from the devastation caused by an earthquake that has killed over 45,000 people, left millions homeless, and triggered a massive relief effort.
In an interview with the Anadolu Agency, he said the OIC meeting was necessary to alleviate the sufferings of the earthquake’s victims, adding all Muslim countries should unite in this effort. He also urged non-OIC states to play their role in providing support to Turkiye.
Warning that natural disasters know no borders, he said the global community should come together to address the prevailing challenges and support the quake victims. “It is high time for the international community to come forward and contribute whatever they can for the rehabilitation of the earthquake-affected people,” he added.
Noting that Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan was leading from the front, he hailed their sense of purpose despite extreme weather conditions. “Things are extremely difficult, but the resolve of the Turkish nation is strong,” he said, adding that the Turkish nation had never shied from offering sacrifices for their prosperity. “Out of this challenge, there is an opportunity, and no doubt, they will convert this destruction into a wonderful construction,” he said.
Discussing the historic ties between Pakistan and Turkiye, he said the two countries were akin to two souls that shared one heart. He also recalled that he had spoken with Erdogan shortly after the quake and offered condolences and support from Pakistan for Turkish “brothers and sisters.” Noting Islamabad had already sent 500 tons of relief goods through various commercial flights and the Pakistan Air Force, he hoped Pakistan would be able to send a total of 1,300 tons of relief goods by the end of this month and another 1,700 tons in March. Most of this, he explained, would be in the form of weather-proof tents. In addition, he said, the federal cabinet and Parliament had donated a month’s salary to a relief fund established for the earthquake-affected people, adding that he had also requested the people of Pakistan to express complete solidarity with the people of Turkiye.
The prime minister also hailed Pakistan’s rescue teams who are currently working in Turkiye, noting they had pulled 14 people from the rubble. “But this devastation is beyond imagination,” he added. Recalling the natural disasters faced by Pakistan—an earthquake in 2005; floods in 2010 and 2022—he said President Erdogan and the Turkish people had been very generous in their support.
“It’s a colossal loss, so no amount of aid would be enough,” said P.M. Sharif, while reiterating praise for the leadership of President Erdogan.