Common concerns

 
February 17, 2020

For the fourth time since he was elected president of his country in 2014, a joint session of Pakistan’s parliament heard Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan speak on issues that concern both...

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For the fourth time since he was elected president of his country in 2014, a joint session of Pakistan’s parliament heard Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan speak on issues that concern both countries. Erdogan was one of the only international leaders to raise a strong voice for Kashmir, joining Pakistan in this and apparently angering New Delhi which has suggested that Turkey not intervene in the ‘internal matters’ of other nations. But Kashmir is a matter for Pakistan as much as it for the rest of the world. The oppression faced by Kashmiris there will be lifted only if a larger number speak out. This is also true for the Palestinians who have heard little support for their struggle even after President Donald Trump announced his plan, which virtually gives away the entire territory to Israel.

Turkey and Pakistan also have other matters to talk about, though it’s not clear if they discussed them during the Turkish president’s visit. Turkey has remained a staunch ally of Pakistan, notably in the aftermath of the 2016 coup during which an attempt was apparently made to overthrow Erdogan. Like Pakistan, it has also confronted periodic stints of military rule. And, like Pakistan’s current government, Erdogan’s regime is seen as a bit wanting in tolerance for dissent. Pakistan must also determine its own policies when it comes to its role in the world. President Erdogan has thanked the country for helping Ankara support operations against the Syrian Kurds last year. And PM Imran Khan had mentioned standing by Turkey through recent clashes in Syria. But perhaps Pakistan is better served by adopting a neutral and humanitarian perspective while looking at such matters, no matter where in the world.

Beyond this, there can be a great deal to be learned through cooperation with Turkey. The country has evolved into a Muslim state which is both tolerant and progressive in its policies, has been able to encourage equal rights for all groups and show that it indeed stands on the cusp between Asia and Europe. It has also managed to promote its tourism potential very successfully. There is a great deal of wisdom Pakistan could acquire from Turkey. It must endeavour to do so – while retaining and upholding democratic principles.



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