A former Pakistani general who had served with the Turkish military during the 1974 Cyprus war said he was glad he got an opportunity to help his Turkish brothers and sisters.
Retired Lt. Gen. Karamat Ahmed Karamat, former surgeon general of Pakistani army, was a member of a medical team who had been sent to Turkey during the war to help Turkish military personnel and civilians who got injured.
"I was a major-rank officer when I got ordered to immediately get prepared and join the medical team leaving for Turkey to help the Turkish military,” Karamat told Anadolu Agency in an interview.
It was July 17, 1974, when our team, consisting of 30 doctors, nurses and paramedical staff, left for Turkey aboard a special Pakistani military C-130 aircraft that arrived at Adana airport in Turkey in the evening.
Soon after our arrival we were moved to military camps in Mersin and Tarsus areas, he said.
Personally, it was a difficult time for the former Pakistani officer since his own wife was pregnant and was in her last term at the time.
"My wife told me that I am pregnant and doctor has advised me for a Caesarian while you are going abroad; I replied ‘God will help you’ but my brothers and sisters are in war and they need my help, so, as a soldier I should go for their help," Karamat said.
On Sept. 3, 1974, when Karamat was in Mersin and his team was busy helping injured Turkish colleagues, he got a telegram from his father-in-law about the birth of his daughter.
The retired general was born in 1943 in southeastern Pakistan’s Punjab province. He served Pakistani army for 37 years in its medical corps and retired in 2003.
Karamat and his team served in Turkey till September 1974 and returned to Pakistan after completing their duty.
"Still I remember these days and the time passed with Turkish colleagues, but I have lost all contact made with friends at that time... there was no facilities back then to remain in contact with them,” he said.
He remembered the hospitality and respect he and his team received from Turkish military personnel and local people of Mersin and Tarsus.
He visited Turkey for the second time in 2003, when he was the surgeon general of Pakistani army.
Let me tell you Turkey and Pakistan are two countries but one nation since both sides love each other, he said.
Karamat said he intends to visit Turkey along with his wife again someday.
The former general urged the Pakistani youth to learn the Turkish language and also urged the Turkish youth to learn Urdu in order to understand each other better.
Pakistan and Turkey enjoy close cultural, historical and military ties which were now expanding into more deepening economic relations, he noted.
People of both countries have love and respect for each other and we should do more to extend it to people-to-people contacts, he said.
"Turkey and Pakistan, both countries have best medical professionals and we should share knowledge with each others," he added.
He also appreciated the fact that under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan's era, the brotherly ties between Pakistan and Turkey had strengthened further.