January 13, 2017
A blog appearing recently in a leading Pakistani daily has sought to establish similarities between Pakistan and Turkey in so far as attracting youth from various parts of the world, convince them to follow a particular sectarian path and equip them with military know how, modern weapons and defence strategies to inflict calamity on large gatherings over the past 30-odd years.
Published by the Express Tribune, the blog says the year 2016 was not a very happy one for Turkey, as its peoples’ were subjected to a terror mayhem at airports, weddings, funerals and other public places.
It adds that a similar situation prevailed in the Pakistan of the late 1970s through the mid-1980s, under the Zia-ul-Haq’s regime, as also between the years 2010 and 2016.
“The attack that took place in Istanbul on New Year’s Eve is a replica of the Taliban attack on a volleyball game in Bannu, exactly seven years ago. The explosion at the Gaziantep wedding is similar to the carnage on a bus carrying wedding guests in the Mohmand tribal region. The attack on the Istanbul airport is a deja vu moment for those who know of the Karachi airport attack in 2014. Despite how far apart we are on the map, if you look closely you’ll spot many similarities between what Turkey has become under Recep Tayyip Erdogan, and how Pakistan had changed under General Zia-ul-Haq’s rule,” says Akhtar Abbas, the author of the blog.
Abbas suggests that in the mid to late 1970s, a conservative General Zia was getting increasingly uncomfortable and beleaguered by a liberal minority that was seeking to change a society deeply rooted in Islamic principles. He believes that in the new millennium Recep Erdogan perhaps feels and is experiencing the same.
Confronted by domestic disturbances, Blogger Abbas maintains that both General Zia and Erdogan used fundamentalist and conservative religious elements in their respective societies to effectively neutralise liberal elements seen as a malaise to be done away with.
For instance, in Pakistan, he says, “Islamic jihad was a tranquilliser injected into the veins of a nation hungry for purpose. Books, newspapers, television programs, public forums were all fine-tuned to churn out a unified message of a big bear knocking at our doorsteps.”
In Turkey, more than three decades later, “Even before the military coup, Erdogan had a very active secular opposition vouching against him and it was only the pulsing heart of the religious fundamentalists who could cure such a malaise. Erdogan’s overtures to Islamic fundamentalists were thus a balancing stone to gain a loyal following. It was a move that did pay him off during the ill attempted coup when his supporters threw themselves against military tanks to restore him as the president,” adds Abbas.
Under General Zia, Pakistan was declared a citadel of Islam, while in the case of Turkey, Erdogan placed the country in historical context, recalling how it was once a super power, the lone Khilafat (Caliphate) in the whole Islamic world, over a century ago.
General Zia and President Erdogan both came to power after a coup against the establishment.
“Both strengthened their control over the government by employing similar tactics: oppressing freedom of expression, arresting and torturing political opponents, controlling educational and religious institutes and harnessing the tides of global politics for their own benefit. They also suppressed several hidden and some open rebellions. Erdogan seems to slowly be turning back on this policy. General Zia wasn’t alive to see how his tyrannical policies brought about havoc..One thing is for sure; there is much that separates us in our demographics and geography, but there is a lot that makes us relate to one another in our failures,” the Express Tribune quotes Abbas, as saying in his blog. (ANI)