It was perhaps for the first time that a Hindutva India— an India in the grip of the Hindu fundamentalists infamous already world-wide for persecuting its Muslim minorities— was playing host to a Muslim country’s headknown the world over also for being outspoken to the point of being blunt.
Prime Minister Narendra Modi’s India would surely have been greatly disappointed to find that the two-day visit of Turkey President Recep Tayyib Erdogan instead of offering one more opportunity to New Delhito beat Pakistan with its now a trite mantra of cross-border terrorism turned into an occasion that focused more on the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan as also on the on-going bloodshed in the Valley.
New Delhi must have felt doubly let down by President Erdogan’s call for multilateral dialogue to solve the Kashmir issue. He also urged for an end to the casualties in the Valley while offering his country’s help in finding a lasting solution to the dispute.
Again in what could only be termed as a fair proposal he also asked that both Pakistan and Indiabe allowed membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG)and;while supporting India’s bid for the membership of United Nations Security Council (UNSC) he dampened the Indian euphoria in getting such an endorsement as he in the same breath demanded that the Muslim World (MW) should also be given a seat in the coveted Council, thus opening the possibility of one Muslim country’s entryby an annual rotation into the UNSC as the representative of the MW.
The Indian Ministry of External Affairs in an attempt to nullify the impact of the pronouncements of President Erdogan with regard to the Kashmir dispute and his offer to help find a lasting solution declared, as if reassure itself,that Turkey-India ties stood “on their own footing” implying that Pakistan did not figure in the bilateral equation.
The Indian MEA also found it necessary to reiterate its usual mantra on the Kashmir issue saying that the entire State of Jammu and Kashmir was an integral part of the territory of India and that as per the Simla Pact of 1972, India has sought resolution of the Kashmir issue through bilateral means and avoided any third party intervention.
What is reassuring for Pakistan is Mr Erdogan’s statement on Kashmir is in line with the Pakistan-Turkey Joint Statement issued during his November 16-17, 2016 visit to Islamabad when he expressed support for UN resolutions regarding Kashmir.
The statement is particularly significant as it followed hours after India had expressed strong support for sovereignty and territorial integrity of Cyprus which has decades-old territorial dispute with Turkey.
In a related welcome development Hurriyat chairman Mirwaiz Umar Farooq immediately welcomed the mediation offer of President Erdogan on the Kashmir issue.Describing Turkey as “an important Islamic country”, the Mirwaiz said the President of Turkey “should make efforts to end the political uncertainly prevalent in the region for decades”.
Welcoming the statement of Mr. Erodgan, wherein he stated Turkey was ready to play a role to solve the Kashmir dispute between India and Pakistan, the Mirwaiz said it could act in an “imaginative way” in bringing both India and Pakistan near to finding a just solution to the Kashmir issue.
President Erdogan also indicated that Turkey, a member of Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG) wished to pursue a hyphenated policy as far as India’s multilateral campaign is concerned when he said both India and Pakistan have the right to aspire for Nuclear Suppliers’ Group (NSG) membership.
Turkey also called for a collective fight against terrorism. Speaking at the end of delegation-level talks, the Turkish President condemned the attack on CRPF personnel in Sukma and expressed solidarity with India. However, Mr. Erdogan’s condemnation of the killing of security personnel in central India contrasted with his silence over the news of an alleged cross-border attack by,as India claimed,elements based in Pakistan.
The issue of cross-border terrorism was strongly taken up by Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who urged for a common strategy against states that use terrorism as an instrument of power.
The Ministry of External Affairs maintained that Turkey agreed to India’s definition of cross-border terrorism and included it in a bilateral Joint Statement.
“The two leaders reiterated their strong condemnation of and resolute opposition to terrorism in all its forms and manifestations, wherever committed and by whomever. Both sides urged all countries and entities to work sincerely to disrupt terrorist networks and their financing and stop cross-border movement of terrorists,” stated the Joint Statement issued towards the end of the visit.
Talking about terrorism, the President Erdogan said that the menace has to be fought collectively and it was unfair to associate it with any one specific religion. He said that indulging in acts of terrorism in the name of Islam was nothing but blasphemy. He said that since the beginning of the Syrian crisis, Turkey has opened its doors to the refugees from the neighboring country and that the international community has a responsibility to do something for them. Turkey has made a conscientious effort to help them as “we should not become tyrants” by becoming indifferent to the sufferings of others.
In his address at the Jamia Millia Islamia which conferred on him the Degree of Doctor of Letters Mr Erdogan supported a permanent United Nations Security Council (UNSC) seat for India and called for reforms in the UNSC but at the same time he also demanded a UNSC seat for the Islamic World.
Criticizing the current structure of the UNSC as arbitrary, he said that it was set up to address the crisis emanating from the Second World War but now that situation had changed drastically, it therefore required thorough restructuring to address the current geo-political reality of the world. “Only five permanent members of the Council are deciding the fate of the entire world which is not fair”, he added.
He said he was delighted to accept the honorary degree from ‘a university which had played a significant role not only in India’s freedom movement but also in the way it supported the Khilafat movement in the 1920s and stood by the Turkish people and its founders.’
His mention of Khilafat movement was a subtle departure from Kamalist Turkey’s policy of faithfully ignoring the 1920 movement in India led by Gandhi in support of the institution of Khilafat in Turkey which the young Turks led by Mustafa Kamal Pasha had dismantled.