Recep Tayyip Erdogan, President of Turkey, was in Pakistan last week at the invitation of Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif and both the leaders were buoyant with the visit as it possibly gave a temporary reprieve to the Pakistani prime minister , currently battling out the khaki and political foes to put his own divided house in order as also to come out of the diplomatic isolation following Uri misadventures.

For Erdogan too, it was a token of superficial solace because Turkey is equally facing a slew of problems including halfhearted response to a series of terror attacks and incessant threats to his government’s survival in the aftermath of brazen attempts to overthrow his government in league with a section of the military opposed to Erdogan.

Pursuing their policy of “I scratch your back, you scratch mine,” Erdogan was given the honour of addressing Pakistan’s joint session of parliament. It was not, however, Erdogan’s maiden address. In the past also, he had tried his oratory on the floor of the Pakistani House. Yet what is striking in Erdogan ‘s rhetoric is his indiscreet, imprudent and uncalled for remarks on Kashmir.

To quote him ad verbatim, “our brothers and sisters in Kashmir are suffering because of the escalating tension along the LoC and Kashmir, which can no longer be ignored. The Kashmir issue needs to find a solution.”

On Kashmir, Erdogan’s outburst doesn’t end here. The Turkish leader further added, “when people look for mediators , why don’t they talk to me ? I have great mediation skills . Look at how I have effectively dealt with the Kurdish problem.”

Turkey President Erdogan with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

Turkey President Recep Tayyip Erdogan with Pakistan Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif. Reuters

Both the quotes must have been parroted by Erdogan as scripted by the Pakistan side. Obviously, being friendless, such feeble statements are articulated, especially in a joint session of the parliament, to make up for lost grounds happening due to immature diplomacy and myopic policy practised in Islamabad .

Notably, the military top brass of Pakistan was also present at the parliament session . It might have required more belligerent ‘India bashing’ on Kashmir, leading to the second part of the quotation as stated above.

It comes as no surprise, then, that to score brownie points, Erdogan offered to mediate, claiming to be possessed with great mediation skills, bragging further to have effectively mediated to deal with the Kurdish problem. This claim is indeed unfounded as Erdogan’s unleashing of terror to suppress any Kurdish uprising is securely preserved in the archives with footages. The atrocities perpetrated by Erdogan to stifle Kurdish voice is very much afloat in the international domain .

To buttress our argument, let’s touch upon the anti-Kurdish violent tirade, sponsored in Cizre, Diyarbakir etc, located 20 km from the Syrian-Kurdish borders. Human rights activists maintain that Erdogan is exterminating Kurds all over Turkey. At least 200 offices of pro-Kurdish People’s Democratic Party have been recently burned down. Kurdish MP Felekna’s Uca, sometime ago, accused the government of killing 150 Kurdish civilians. Mr Erdogan, it does not behove a head of state of your stature to meddle and poke your ugly nose in Kashmir when your own hands are tainted with Kurdish blood stains .

Both, Nawaz Sharif and Erdogan are under the shadow of terror. Bahawalpur, Quetta and Balochistan are struck with terror acts at regular intervals. Pakistan looks hapless and clueless. Security sceptics are at a loss as to how Turkey’s military and strategic cooperation with Pakistan will help fight terror. Turkey too in the recent past faced the deadliest of terrors attacks involving capital Ankara and other places closer to Islamic State strongholds near Syria. Significantly, vital installations have been effectively targeted, especially Presidential complex, National Assembly and other military infrastructure.

Erdogan does not appear to do much to rein in terror, same as Sharif. Also, fierce terror attacks in the Istanbul airport not so long ago exhibits a complete collapse of Turkish security and intelligence apparatus. Some segments of the powerful military have been penetrated and subverted.

Turkish excesses in Cyprus, Azerbaijan and Armenia are condoned by Pakistan. As quid pro quo, Turkey is supporting Pakistan for its membership of the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG). Both the countries have a Free Trade Agreement aiming to raise bilateral trade volume to $10 billion. Further, there are strong defence ties between the two countries which includes joint naval exercises.

In a friendless world (China excluded), Pakistan is happy that there is some one holding its hand. But it is a hollowed consolation bereft of any substance.

Pakistan is also upbeat on Erdogan’s stand in holding a plebiscite under the UN to decide Kashmir’s intention to join Pakistan.

PoK Prime Minister Raja Farooq Haider expressed profound gratitude to Erdogan for supporting Pakistan on Kashmir. Haider felt the visiting dignitary’s statement is a morale booster for the PoK. Haider must know this excitement and euphoria are short lived and likely to be forgotten very soon.

Erdogan and Sharif may continue to host each other, keep warming up airing unjust views in parliament joint sittings and rejoice over a ‘successful’ visit . The overtures have not worked nor do they have the promise for any fruition, especially on Kashmir. In the next opportunity of such sessions, Erdogan must display some sanity and wisdom by refraining from mentioning Kashmir. He should know that Kashmir is very much an integral part of India and playing ball with Pakistan on this sensitive issue will backfire .

Pervez Musharraf had his childhood in Turkey and wanted Pakistan to be modelled on Turkey as envisioned and proved by Mustafa Kemal Ataturk. Sadly, we did not see any move by Musharraf to modernise Pakistan: It thrived with fundamentalism and fanaticism leading to terrorism of monstrous proportions. Back in Turkey, Erdogan is pursuing regressive policies, making religion the central point. That too is bound to boomerang. Both Pakistani and Turkish leaders must abhor component of religion-linked politics and behave like statesmen rather than petty politicians taking a regressive path, undoing what Kemal Ataturk had achieved. The world is watching Turkey making extra efforts to qualify for the EU membership. However, EU hardliners are in no mood to induct Turkey, considering it as a pariah state now kept at an arm’s length by Angela Merkel Hollande and team. At best, EU may, for tactical reasons, use Turkey to deal with IS cadres .

Erdogan should also remember that Fetullah Terror Organisation (FeTO) is still a force to reckon with and has the capacity to pinprick Erdogan whenever it wants. The outfit has presence all over the world. It had amply demonstrated its prowess in the not-so-distant past by jolting Erdogan, engineering a powerful coup. Recurrence of such misadventures remain a possibility.

Under the circumstances, Turkey and Pakistan need to safeguard their political survival first by neutralising their adversaries who seem to be multiple and they are ensconced within. To harp the old tune on Kashmir is a sheer wastage of time. Sorting out Kurd rebels may be Erdogan’s priority. And Nawaz Sharif, on his part, should address the joint session of the Turkish Parliament, touching upon plight of the Kurds for their self determination and dignity.

(The writer is a retired IPS officer, a security analyst and columnist. Views are personal.)

First Published On : Nov 22, 2016 12:06 IST

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Erdogan in Pakistan: Turkey president must fix his own home before commenting on Kashmir