Sultan M Hali
The attempted coup d’état in Turkey failed, because ordinary Turkish citizens responded to the call of their beloved President and came out on the streets. Unarmed but daring Turks lay down in front of tanks and foiled the rebellion. People heeded to the President’s call given on Skype since the TV Stations were under the control of the rebels because Recep Tayyip Erdoðan has done wonders for his people, turning them into champions of democracy.
Erdoðan previously served as the Prime Minister of Turkey from 2003 to 2014 and as the Mayor of Istanbul from 1994 to 1998. He founded the Justice and Development Party (AKP) in 2001 and led it to three general election victories in 2002, 2007 and 2011 before standing down as leader upon his election as President in 2014. Originating from an Islamist political background and as a self-described conservative democrat, his administration has overseen social conservative and liberal economic policies, which have brought Turkey out of the stranglehold of foreign debt and today his country is in a position to offer debts to IMF and World Bank.
Erdoðan was a semi-professional footballer playing for Kasimpaþa Spor Kulübü before being elected as the Mayor of Istanbul from the Islamist Welfare Party in 1994. He was stripped and banned from office after being sentenced to 10 months in prison for inciting religious intolerance in 1998, after which he abandoned openly Islamist politics and established the moderate conservative AKP in 2001. The AKP won a landslide victory in the 2002 general election, with the party’s co-founder Abdullah Gül becoming Prime Minister until his government annulled Erdoðan’s ban from political office. Erdoðan subsequently became Prime Minister in March 2003 after winning a seat in a by-election held in Siirt.
The reason why Erdoðan is endeared to his people is not just because he provided them with a higher quality of life, pulling them out of debt, providing jobs and education opportunities to the youth, but also because he looked the Israelis in their eyes boldly and told them the bitter truth that they commit genocide of the hapless Palestinians.
At the 2009 World Economic Forum, he challenged his Israeli counterpart Shimon Peres and asked him to stop the mass murder of the Palestinians. Peres responded to Erdoðan, stating that Turkey would have done the same if rockets had been hitting Istanbul. Erdoðan was interrupted by the moderator while he was responding to Peres: “Mister Peres, you are older than I am. Maybe you are feeling guilty and that is why you are raising your voice. When it comes to killing you know it too well. I remember how you killed the children on beaches…” Upon the moderator’s reminder that they needed to adjourn for dinner, Erdoðan boycotted the conference and returned home.
His flight landed at Ankara at 2 a.m. amidst a raging blizzard. The entire city of Ankara had reached the airport, braving the inclement weather and carried their hero Erdoðan on their shoulders. Following the Gaza flotilla raid in May 2010, tension between the two countries mounted. Erdoðan strongly condemned the raid, describing it as “state terrorism”, and called for the Israeli leaders responsible to apologize. Erdoðan described Israel as “the main threat to regional peace”, and called for Israel’s nuclear facilities to come under IAEA inspection. Erdoðan accused Israel of turning Gaza into an “open-air prison”.
On 12 September 2011, Erdoðan had ejected Israeli ambassadors, cutting all diplomatic and bilateral military agreements because Israel refused to apologize for the Gaza flotilla raid which killed eight Turkish and one Turco-American aboard a convoy headed to Gaza. Besides Israeli barbarism, Erdoðan has boldly condemned the atrocities in Indian Occupied Kashmir. He is the only Muslim leader to have voiced concern over the barbaric trials and hanging of Jamaat-e-Islami leaders in Bangladesh. In fact he was critical of the Occident, which has also chosen to remain oblivious of the travesty of justice in Bangladesh.
It is ironic that the Pakistani political dispensation in the government, on the one hand welcomed the failure of the attempted coup d’état in Turkey but in the same vein, expressed that if such a situation arose in Pakistan, the citizens of Pakistan too would rise in similar fashion to defend democracy. Perhaps these leaders are living in a fools’ paradise. The people are groaning under the strains of terror attacks, constant power outages, double digit inflation, lack of security, hunger disease and poverty, while the political leaders continue to live in opulence. The people of Pakistan are cognizant of the fact that while there are inadequate medical facilities for the ordinary citizens, the leaders go abroad to get treatment at the cost of the national exchequer. People do not get even one square meal a day while the leaders enjoy lavish banquets at the expense of the taxpayer.
Let us take the case of Bangladesh, where people are facing gallows only because 45 years earlier they remained bona fide citizens of Pakistan and raised the national standard with the crescent and star on the green and white background rather than the flag of the Bangladesh rebels. The government of Pakistan has chosen to remain silent on the issue. Ever since Narendra Modi has assumed the mantle of the Prime Minister of India, he is hell bent upon amalgamating Indian Occupied Kashmir into India and also subjugate Pakistan. He has chosen the assurance of the success of his heinous task by befriending the ruling dispensation in Islamabad. Kashmir is burning but aside from lip sympathy, there is nary a word from the rulers.
In the prevailing milieu, it would be foolhardy to expect people to stand up in support of the government, which has only added to their woes. One does not have to look far. On July 8th, 2016; Abdul Sattar Edhi, an icon of service for humanity, a paragon of virtue met his Maker. His own life of simplicity but aiding the suffering and teeming millions was so inspiring that people turned up en masse to attend his funeral.
—The writer is retired PAF Group Captain and a TV talk show host.