Long live Pakistan-Turk friendship!

3716

WE spent that night in Istanbul and then in the morning, we made our way to Istiqlal rubbing our eyes. This time around, I had some friends with me who had been here for the first time, one of which grabbed me by the arm and said, “Show us something that we remember for the rest of our lives”.
The tram tracks were in front of me, I crossed them cautiously and started to think in front of a Turkish delight shop. I had them follow me beside a church wall where a group of youngsters were banging drums and dancing in a big circle. They saw us, looked at the glittering Pakistani flag on our chests with love loaded sight, and surrounded us from all sides, and then delicately held our hands and invited us to dance with them. Now, Istiqlal Street was parted, but together Pakistani dhamaal and Turk halay created such a sight that the air all around us was filled with joyous claps. My friends were exalted.
When the dance ended, the hosts and dancers hugged, filled with joy, hand in hand, blended in the crowd of carefree people who were wandering around on the street. Meanwhile, a friend came in between Ahmed and I, whispered in my ear, “Something more”. In that moment, my eyes went to “Don Darma”, the Turkish ice-cream man. The ice-cream men of this city are something to behold; red cap with the black bird, red coat with the golden stripes, and with bucket buckles; was surprising the customers by ringing the bell on the roof by his spatula in full speed.
The customer had not yet come out of the astonishment of the bell ringing when the ice-cream man offers the ice-cream with the same spatula; but as the customer tries to get a hold of it, the ice-cream man is already touching his cheeks with the ice cream. He flaunts the ice cream here and there, even as far touching the customer’s stomach but the customer never gets a hold of it. My friends too enjoyed the experience. He had his shop decorated with a lot of different ads on which my eyes were glued upon one picture which had a tank and some people who were standing in front of it deemed to be chanting slogans.
The Turks are deep and wise people. The picture of one individual stood out from the rest and on a closer look, his faced resembled Don Darma man. He saw me looking at the picture and then with a loving smile winked. I sent my fellows a little further and waited for the rush on his stall to get a little thin, after which I asked him how the picture looked. He stalled for a bit in his own sense of humor but after he was done with the monkey business, he replied, “It is how you want to look at it”.
He gave a brief answer, and I said, “But still?” Now, he stopped kidding and said in a soft, sweet voice, “it’s of 15 temmuz” which means 15th July. “You are a laborer, how are you related to politics? “
That day, I wasn’t alone in that crowd, my fellow, Ahmet Farooq was also beside me. He also pointed at shopkeepers other than those famously selling potato dishes, in the market. I acknowledged what he said, and went ahead. The next day, I met Dr. Mahmut A. K., the rector of Istanbul University, and he showed me many pictures of himself where he can be seen, wearing his gown, leading the faculty of his university on the streets of the same historical city, Istanbul.
“What a passion it was, that united the laborers, teachers, businessmen, poets, actors, and every single person as one?” I asked Dr. Halil Toker, a very dear friend of mine, and he gave a light-hearted laugh and said, “Okay then, listen…” and he told a story. Whilst talking, we left his apartment and wandered through the fragranced greenery of ‘Umrania bailay desi’, that is: the great complex of municipality. We moved forward and reached the market touching ‘Uskudar’ which was beautiful like the Anarkali of Lahore. And then took the path that leads to the Bosphorus Bridge.
“That night, I hardly reached over here.” Halil Toker exclaimed.
And so I asked, “When there were bullets everywhere, and people were being crushed by the tanks, you should’ve been home at that time.” He said, “This could’ve happened, but when our president appealed us to come out on the streets, then it wasn’t just me, but it was impossible for everyone to stay at home.
The one thing in our minds was ‘Do or Die’. Whatever happens, do not lose! And then something like this happened: unarmed men made the tanks useless, and the ones who were showering the bullets on the crowd, were forced to drop their weapons.
This was the situation when I said to my wife that it is impossible for me to sit at home. I kissed my baby boy, ran a loving hand on my little girl’s head, said goodbye to my wife, and left. The street was filled with my neighbors. A mother, along with her two young daughters were standing outside her doorstep saying, ‘this time is not for lying around in the house.’ I went ahead and saw that saying goodbye to the kids, my wife standing right beside me.”
I was still questioning, “My question remains the same: how this passion came into being?” “The passion was simply this: this nation will not be a slave.”“Slave how?”
“When the elected government is forcefully ended, the law is not the law anymore, it becomes the prisoner of the dictator. I still remember, when martial law was enforced in 1980, a 17 year old was declared as 18 years old and was hanged to death. In sixtees, Adnan Menderes was hanged to death as well. But this time, the conspirators were openly targeting the public as well. It was very clear to us that our elected government was once again going to go through it again.”
I let it sink in me, but after a few days, when I met Hassan Jaan, the mayor of district Umerania, he told me about his city, his citizens, the history of his city, and he told me how he straighten the twisted and unplanned city, and provided the people the necessities of life, and so the people started to respect and love the government as well.
As the planned 10-minute session grew to become more than an hour and a half, I took my leave. Brother Hassan Jaan escorted me to the corridor, showed me a big vehicle, and told me, “Not only in this district, but thousands of such vehicles are moving in streets of the city that provide the facilities to pick patients from their doorsteps to hospitals on just one phone call. Hundreds of thousands of youngsters are provided opportunities to learn different skills at time, job opportunities are provided, and until or unless they get a job, their basic necessities of life are fulfilled.”
“And this is done by the municipal?” I asked.
“Who else would do it?” he replied.It made me speechless. And the question of 15th July was not a question anymore.
—Farooq Adil Consultant Media to the President International Islamic University Islamabad.