Earthquake-hit Turkey refuses to host Pakistan PM Shehbaz Sharif, Twitter reacts

Islamabad: Turkey, which is grappling with the devastation following powerful earthquakes that killed over 12,500 people, has refused to host Pakistan Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif in the capital Ankara. The Express Tribune cited official sources as saying that Shahbaz Sharif’s visit to Turkey has been postponed due to the ongoing rehabilitation work of the Turkish leadership and bad weather.

Sources said the PML-N leader was scheduled to leave for Turkey on February 8, however, the trip has been postponed and he would not be able to visit the quake-hit areas as the helicopter could not take off during bad weather. He said that the President and Vice President of Turkey and the entire political leadership are engaged in relief work.

Pakistan’s Foreign Office also confirmed that Turkey has canceled Sharif’s visit to the country in view of relief efforts being carried out after Monday’s earthquake and aftershocks in which thousands were killed and injured.

Turkey is facing a major humanitarian crisis after an earthquake shook the country on Monday. Earthquake tremors were also felt in neighboring countries including Syria. Countries around the world are sending relief supplies and rescue teams to Turkey to aid in the rescue operations. However, the Pakistan PM had planned to visit the earthquake-hit country.

Earlier on Tuesday, Pakistan’s Information Minister Maryam Aurangzeb had said that Shahbaz Sharif would leave for Ankara on Wednesday morning to show solidarity with the people of Turkey.

Aurangzeb said in a tweet that the all-party conference to be held on Thursday has been postponed. Maryam Aurangzeb tweeted, “Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif will leave for Ankara tomorrow morning, he will express his condolences and sympathies to the people of Turkey for the devastation and loss of life caused by the earthquake. Prime Minister’s visit to Turkey due, Thursday, February 9 The APC convened on 6th September is being postponed, a new date will be announced in consultation with allies.”

Turkey’s move to cancel Shehbaz Sharif’s visit to the earthquake-hit country has sparked a wildfire on social media. Many internet users have criticized the Pakistan PM’s decision as “ill-advised”, noting that Pakistan itself is facing a severe economic crisis and food shortage.