By Islamuddin Sajid
The Turkish president is without doubt the most widely-admired foreign leader in Pakistan, so much so that even a small-time transporter has decided to honor him with a massive portrait on the back of his own truck.
Despite the fact that Gulzar Ahmad has never been to Turkey or met a Turkish citizen in his life, he told Anadolu Agency he got Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s portrait painted on his truck because he believed the Turkish president was an “ideal leader”.
“I love the Turkish president who represents Muslims of the world and he is my ideal leader,” Ahmad, the 38-year-old resident of Dera Ghazi Khan town in southeastern Punjab province and whose family runs a small transportation business comprising three trucks, said.
“We know that Turkey is the only country that always stands by Pakistan, in every good or bad times and that’s the reason we love Turkey and its president.”
Ahmad's third truck featuring Erdogan’s portrait was acquired and adorned with world famous truck art this January.
While Erdogan’s picture has been on Pakistani billboards and TV channels on several occasions, this is the first time it is believed to have been featured on a decorated truck.
Now when Ahmad’s truck transports goods for his clients across different cities of Punjab -- the country’s biggest province in terms of population -- people from all walks of life get to see the smiling face of Erdogan donning a dark suit in a red, orange and blue background, which is typical of Pakistani truck art.
The unique truck art of Pakistan costs owners a lot money, usually to the tune of thousands of dollars.
Ahmad said just the artwork and paint on his truck had cost him 50,000 rupees (around $500).
He said the artist he employed for making Erdogan’s portrait had used a picture for reference.
“It’s very easy, you give him [the artist] a picture and they will make the portrait on the truck,” he said.
Truckers in Pakistan usually get portraits of their favorite cricketers, film actors and sometimes even local politicians and army chiefs on the back of their trucks. But it is quite rare to see the portrait of a foreign leader as part of Pakistani truck art.
About choosing a Turkish leader over others, Ahmad said: “I would say Pakistanis love Turkey more than any other country in the whole world.
"More than China, even more than Saudi Arabia, both of which are considered as the closest allies of our nation.”