World, Asia - Pacific

Erdogan visit dominates Pakistan's airwaves, press

State-run and private media's wall-to-wall coverage affirms significance of Turkish president's trip to Islamabad

Aamir Latif   | 14.02.2020
Erdogan visit dominates Pakistan's airwaves, press President of Turkey Recep Tayyip Erdogan makes a speech during a joint session of National Assembly and Senate in Islamabad, Pakistan on February 14, 2020. ( Muhammed Semih Uğurlu - Anadolu Agency )

KARACHI, Pakistan

Pakistan’s media outlets have unequivocally conveyed the significance of the Turkish president’s fourth visit to the nuclear-armed South Asian country.  

From television bulletins to newspapers, Recep Tayyip Erdogan has been the main focus since his plane took off from Ankara on Thursday. 

The media attention only magnified once his special plane touched down in Islamabad and he was greeted by the visibly-exultant Prime Minister of Pakistan, Imran Khan.  

Readers woke up on Friday to images of Erdogan and his wife Emine Erdogan splattered across the front pages of all leading English- and Urdu-language dailies.  

The accompanying news reports were centered on the Turkish leader’s grand welcome and his visit’s potential impact on Ankara and Islamabad’s economic ties.  

Another recurring feature of the reports was Khan’s gesture of personally driving Erdogan to the Prime Minister House. 

As the day progressed, the state-owned broadcaster and all news channels opened their bulletins with content on Erdogan’s engagements in Islamabad. 

They ensured live transmission of his record fourth address to Pakistan’s parliament, following it up with strikingly positive coverage on his vow of support for Kashmiris and pledge to boost economic and defense cooperation. 

Erdogan and Khan’s appearance at a business conference later in the day was accorded the same importance.  

Their speeches were broadcast live and the Turkish leader’s expression of commitment to stronger trade ties was the opener for subsequent news bulletins.  

Who said what?  

The Daily Jang -- Pakistan’s most popular Urdu-language newspaper -- highlighted the ongoing strategic, trade, and investment cooperation between the two countries, including their joint efforts to combat Islamophobia.  

The paper ran a separate story on the warm welcome given to Erdogan by all political forces, irrespective of their stance towards the ruling party and its allies.   

Dawn -- the country’s oldest English-language daily -- focused on the visit’s potential to transform Pakistan and Turkey’s brotherly relations into a dynamic economic partnership. 

Another reputed English-language daily, The News International, was on the same page with its emphasis on trade ties and Ankara’s unwavering support for Islamabad’s stance on Kashmir.  

The country’s other top publications -- among them The Express Tribune, Business Recorder, Daily Express, and Nawa-i-Waqt -- were similarly upbeat over the possible outcomes of what is Erdogan’s second visit as president of Turkey.  

They also shed light on Islamabad and Ankara’s closeness and cooperative stance on issues pertaining to the Muslim world, particularly Palestine, Afghanistan, and Kashmir.  

Unmatched popularity 

The favorable media coverage of Erdogan’s visit was in line with his resounding popularity among Pakistanis and Muslims in general.  

His perception in Pakistan is such that several parties and politicians, while campaigning for the country’s last general elections in 2018, wooed voters with promises of implementing Erdogan-like policies. 

It will only be further bolstered after his address to parliamentarians on Friday, in which he paid tribute to the help extended by Pakistani people during the Turkish War of Independence and asserted that there is “no difference” between “Canakkale [Gallipoli] then and Kashmir today”.  

A recent survey also found the Turkish president to be the most popular Muslim leader in the world, ahead of Saudi Arabia’s King Salman and Iranian President Hassan Rouhani. 

Gallup International’s annual index on Thursday also placed Erdogan as the fifth-most popular world leader, behind German Chancellor Angelina, France’s Emmanuel Macron, Russia’s Vladimir Putin, and U.S. President Donald Trump.

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