Categorized | South Asian Politics


Posted on 24 November 2016 by admin

 Dr. Hasan Askari

   The visit of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan to Pakistan on November 16-17 was an important development for Pakistan’s Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. It provided a positive projection to Nawaz Sharif at a time when his government was under pressure from three directions.

 First, India had adopted an aggressive posture on the Line of Control in Kashmir and India’s firing across this Line of Control has become a regular feature. As Pakistan’s security forces respond to such an attack with firmness, there are losses of human beings and property on both sides. Second, The Panama Leaks case against the Prime Minister and some of his family members is going on in the Supreme Court. As long as the Supreme Court does not settle the case, it will continue keep Nawaz Sharif under pressure. Third, the controversy about the publication of a news item about a national security meeting in an English language newspaper has adversely affected civil-military relations, which produced many speculative reports about the displeasure of the top brass of the military on this issue.

 The visit of Turkish President to Islamabad and Lahore shifted the focus of the media and politically active circles away from the above-mentioned issues. What helped to boost the image of the Sharif government was the support the Turkish leader extended to Pakistan for economic development and regional security.

 President Erdogan’s address to the joint session of the parliament was a remarkable statement of support for Pakistan. He not only highlighted the historical and cultural relations between Turkey and Pakistan but also reiterated his country’s support in all major domain of bilateral and regional interaction, including diplomatic, economic, security and social and cultural domains. He promised to expand the bilateral trade and expand economic relations. He also offered 500 scholarships for Pakistani students for technical and general education in Turkish universities.

 The Turkish President was very open in extending support to Pakistan on its problems with India and on the Kashmir problem. He said that the Kashmir problem should be resolved in accordance with the wishes of people of Kashmir and the United Nations resolutions on Kashmir. In the past some other Muslim countries, especially Saudi Arabia and Iran, used to extend such a clear cut support to Pakistan on Kashmir. However, since the current popular uprising in Indian-administered Kashmir, no Middle Eastern country has extended such an open support to Pakistan on its problems with India and the Kashmir problem.

 President Erdogan and Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif joined Pakistani and Turkish business peope who had come to Pakistan with the Turkish President, for discussing an increased economic cooperation, trade and investment. It is hoped that much needed Foreign Direct Investment will also come from Turkey in the near future.

 Traditionally, Pakistan and Turkey have maintained close friendly relations and they worked together in various regional partnerships for economic and security cooperation. It was in 1974 that Pakistan under Zulfikar Ali Bhutto extended full diplomatic support to Turkey on the Northern Cyprus issue and recognized the independence of Northern Cyprus, declared on the initiative of Turkey. Pakistan’s gesture on this issue was much appreciated by Turkey. Pakistan also supports Turkey on Kurdish separatist movement in Turkey.

 The present ruling party, AK Party came to power in Turkey in 2002 and Tayyap Erdogon became Prime Minister in 2003 and served on this post until 2014, when he was elected President. During all these years, 2002-2016, Turkey’s relations with Pakistan expanded rapidly. When the coup attempt against President Erdogon failed in July 2016, Pakistan fully supported his efforts to protect his democratically elected government and take firm action against his political adversaries in the military and outside. The latest visit of Turkish President has further strengthened the relations between Pakistan and Turkey.

 The desire of the government of Pakistan to maintain very friendly relations with the Turkish government is threating the working of Turkish schools in Pakistan. There are 28 schools in Pakistan run by the Turkish education movement led by Fatheullah Golun, currently based in the United States. Some teachers are from Turkey but almost all students are Pakistani.

 The Turkish government has accused Fatehullah Golun for sponsoring the July 2016 failed coup in Turkey. It is now purging the Turkish military, civilian administration and society of Golun supporters and sympathizers. The Turkish government asked Pakistan to close down these schools as these were being run by the Golan movement. Pakistan did not close down the schools but made changes in their administration to minimize the role of the education movement of Fatehullah Golun.

 A day before the arrival of Turkish President, Pakistan government ordered the Turkish teachers to leave Pakistan within a week. A large number of educationists and especially the Pakistani students of these schools protested and argued that it was unfair to expel Turkish teachers who neither have a direct link with the Golun movement nor are they involved in any political activity. If these teachers return to Turkey they are likely to be arrested. In other words, The Turkish government’s domestic policy of excluding all those having some link with Golun is adversely affecting a good school system for Pakistani children.

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