‘Pandemic has added another layer of activity, a number of Pakistanis in Turkey need help’
Pakistan’s Ambassador to Turkey, Syrus Sajjad Qazi. Photo: Anadolu Agency
ANKARA: Locked in Turkey recently because the coronavirus pandemic has forced Pakistan’s envoy to the country to adjust the way he works and socialize, but also has an unexpected positive side, diplomats said in an exclusive interview with Anadolu Agency.
“Someone skipped meetings and interacted with Turkish friends and diplomatic colleagues, and also went out and enjoyed Ankara’s unique social and cultural atmosphere,” said Ambassador Syrus Sajjad Qazi, who works in Ankara, the country’s capital.
Emphasizing that the work of the government and the Pakistani embassy continued during the pandemic, Qazi said, “The pandemic has added another layer of activities like what the embassy normally does, because a number of Pakistanis in Turkey need help and guidance, especially relating to repatriation to Pakistan. “
He said Pakistani students at various Turkish universities needed help on issues such as seeking embassy intervention on boarding closures.
“The embassy has been busy almost all the time in receiving and responding to phone calls, emails and WhatsApp messages from our citizens and their families in Pakistan and extending guarantees,” Qazi said.
He also stressed that the curfew safety weekend that Turkey imposed a “slightly complicated situation” in terms of ensuring staff attendance at the embassy.
“Because I live in the embassy complex, sometimes I have to guard the fort, especially on weekends,” he added.
Smaller social circle
Qazi said his social circle had greatly diminished because almost all embassies and other events in Ankara had been canceled or postponed.
“Reception of Pakistan’s National Day, which is held on March 23 and is one of the most popular national day receptions on the Ankara diplomatic calendar, must also be canceled.”
Regarding Eid al-Fitr, he added that the embassy “arranges the reception of Eid al-Fitr for the Pakistani community and students in Ankara every year where traditional Pakistani cuisine is served to commemorate the tradition of the Eid festival in Pakistan.
“Unfortunately, this year, because of Covid-19, it has been canceled.”
The positive side of locking
As for the locking silver lining, Qazi said that quarantine gave him more time to read and exercise “even though intention does not always translate into action.”
“On the positive side, we are fortunate that all our children are with us in Ankara and we must celebrate Ramadan together,” he added.
Strong bilateral ties
“Pakistan-Turkey bilateral relations are characterized by extreme closeness, with their great depth and spread, and frequent interactions,” Qazi said.
Saying how February Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan and Pakistani Prime Minister Imran Khan signed the Economic Strategic Framework (SEF) pact, Qazi said, “We must start working on it seriously as soon as the quarantine restrictions are relaxed. “
“However, SEF is only one aspect of bilateral cooperation, and other fields also need to be considered to make up for lost time. The big challenge is to ensure that the pandemic does not have a negative impact on bilateral trade and to find opportunities to develop it, “he added.
Qazi went on to say that Eid al-Fitr is a celebration of purification that Muslims should do during the fasting month.
“The Covid-19 pandemic gives us a unique opportunity to practice all that Ramazan stands for – compassion for those in need, gratitude to the Almighty for protecting us and our loved ones when so many have suffered and lost their lives, and commit ourselves back to ourselves with the main principles of Islam about peace and brotherhood, “he explained.
“In this regard, the Pakistani embassy and I wish our Turkish brothers and sisters all health, peace and prosperity. May Pakistan and Turkey remain protected from the adverse effects of this pandemic and that both countries and people emerge from them stronger, tougher, and closer. “
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