The resurrection of Turkey and Pakistan


U K Dar

OTTOMAN Empire was once the biggest military and economic power of the world lasting more than 600 years. It was the seat of Muslim Caliphs and most of the Muslim world was united under its banner. The downfall was rather a slow and long process. The Empire was termed as the sick man of Europe for many decades prior, the Empire was finally dismantled in 1922 after the defeat in World War I; the last Ottoman Sultan, Mehmood VI, was exiled utterly humiliated. Historians have recorded several reasons for its demise, major being the failure to focus on industrialization. However, the role played by ‘enemies’ from within the state for the fall of the last strong Muslim bastion cannot be downplayed either.
The sentiments of betrayal that Muslims of the subcontinent felt for British Colonial rulers for conspiring against the Ottoman Empire can be ascertained by the mass scale Khilafat Movement that was started by them to save the Ottoman caliphate. The campaign resulted in the collection of huge funds for the support of Turks. Legendarily womenfolk gave away their jewellery for the cause. (This was remembered by the first lady of Turkey, a century later, when she donated her jewellery for the victims of the earthquake in Pakistan) Branches of Red Crescent were formed all over India and medical missions were organized and dispatched for the aid of the Turkish Army. The movement alas, could not achieve its mission but the fund thus collected was used for the construction of a new parliament building in Ankara and the foundation of the first nationalist bank. The Movement, nonetheless, gave India a stream of Muslim leaders – the Ali Brothers – who became the founder of the idea of Pakistan. This Movement thus played a pivotal role in the creation of Pakistan and is a thread of common history that binds the two countries together.
Immediately after independence, Pakistan was recognized by Turkey as a sovereign state and supported its successful bid to become a member of the United Nations. Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah send an emissary to Turkey in December 1947 and wished that the two brotherly countries could establish close cultural, commercial and political relations. It is worth mentioning that Pakistan’s first currency notes were printed by Turkey in 1948. Moreover, Pakistan and Turkey have been a part of several economic and defence treaties like Baghdad Pact and later Central Treaty Organization or CENTO. Turkey, Pakistan and Iran formed Regional Cooperation for Development (RCD) that was later converted into Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) and seven new members – Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan – were included.
Pakistan and Turkey have always supported each other on mutual issues. In 1965, the Indo-Pak war, Turkey declared, in unequivocal terms, India as the aggressor as it did not resolve the Kashmir problem. Turkey gave substantial arms and ammunition to Pakistan during the war. In 1971, Turkey supported Pakistan and recognized Bangladesh in 1974 only after Pakistan recognized it. Turkey and China were the two countries that blocked a move by the western powers to put Pakistan on the Financial Action Task Force (FATF) blacklist. In the same way, Pakistan has also supported Turkey on the issue of Cyprus. Pakistan was one of a few countries that immediately condemned the attempted coup of 2016 in Turkey, and expressed solidarity with the elected Turkish government and designated the US-based Fetullah Gulen Organization a terror group and banned its affiliated schools in its area.
Pakistan also supported Turkey when the US imposed sanctions on Turkey when an American Pastor was detained on terror charges. Turkey is constructing a Consulate in Karachi that is Turkey’s largest consulate anywhere in the world, symbolizing the importance of Pak-Turkish ties. The recent discussion of an agreement to grant dual citizenship to Turks and Pakistanis is a sign of a special relationship between the two countries. President Tayyip Erdogan had the honour of addressing the Pakistani Parliament four times. In 2019, Turkey, Pakistan and Malaysia also agreed to launch a joint television channel to counter the growing trend of anti-Islam propaganda in the world.
In 2023, the Treaty of Lausanne that resulted in the demise of the Ottoman Empire is due to expire as an article in International Law states that tnternational treaties last 100 years. Will Turkey seek to resurrect the Ottoman Empire or something similar after 2023? Many restrictions on Turkey like oil exploration and no tariff on trade passing through the Bosphorus will expire giving Turkey unprecedented economic gains. By reversing one of Ataturk’s most symbolic steps – conversion of Hagia Sophia back to a mosque – Turkey has made its intention clear; to remove the shroud of modernity and secularism and move Turkey towards its glorious future comparable to its glorious past. The condemnation by the USA, Russia, Greece and UNESCO on restoring the status of Hagia Sophia is a case of double standard very commonly exhibited by the western world. The same powers remained mum over the conversion of 16th century Babri Mosque in India into a temple and conversion of a 13th century Al Ahmar (Red) Mosque in Israel into a bar and events hall. Turkey was always the fortress of Islam and will regain that status if Tayyip Erdogan’s mission is accomplished. He is trying to ride a new wave of revivalism in Turkey; Islamic revivalism. Pakistan needs to support Turkey as she has been doing it all along. Together both countries can get the rightful place in the world arena that they fully deserve.
—The writer is a freelance columnist based in Manchester, UK.

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