By Dr Ghayur Ayub
This is the story of two Muslim states – Turkey and Pakistan. Both Sunni Muslims. Turkish follow spiritual Islam and Pakistanis traditionalist Islam. Also, Turkish people have free mindset as their ancestors ruled the world for centuries. Pakistanis have slave mentality as their ancestors were ruled by others. Accordingly, this mindset transmitted into Turkish leadership with exception of a few secular generals who played leading role in country politics for decades. They were under the influence of western powers and behaved like their slaves. While in Pakistan all the military and civilian leadership had slave mentality with exception of Jinnah, Zulfiqar Ali Bhutto and currently Imran Khan. There is long history behind it which is beyond the scope of this article.
Let me trace one hundred years history of these two states and assess their possible roles in future global politics.
Turkey: the intriguing game of World War I reduced the Ottoman Empire to the modern Turkish State by signing the Treaty of Lausanne II on 23 July 1923. The treaty with validity of 100 years imposed several unfair and painful conditions, such as; the abolition of the caliphate; declaration of a secular state; exile of caliph and his family; the confiscation of all his assets; prevention of Turkey from oil exploration; and declaring the Bosporus Strait as an international corridor not allowing Turkey to obtain financial benefits from ships passing through.
Geographically, the country lost major chunk of its territory to the then world powers ending Khilafat as the symbol of Islamic unity and losing control over holy Mosques of Makkah and Medina to Al Saud family. The power shift of spiritual Islam to traditionalists had adverse effects on the world politics especially after creation of Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 1932 and exploration of oil and gas in that country. With support of western powers especially America, the world saw a gradual rise of Wahabism.
The Turks always looked at Al Saud family suspiciously. It had history behind it which dated back to ‘Wahabi War’ fought between Egypt under Ottomans reign and the army of Emirate of Diriyah (the first Saudi state) from 1811 to 1819. In that war, the British colluded with followers of Mohammad Bin Abdul Wahab and the house of Al Saud against Ottomans.
Al Saud’s dubious role emerged again in 1924, after fall of Khilafat, when Muslim Ulema decided to get together at Al Azhar university and choose a new Khalifa for Muslim Ummah. The British through Al Saud, pressurised Al Azhar university and delayed the conference for two years. During that period, British persuaded Al Saud to hold another conference at Makkah. So, when Al Azhar conference known also as Cairo Conference was held in June/July 1926, another conference was also held at Makkah during Hajj with bigger audience and much religious zeal and fervour. Thus, the value of Al Azhar conference was minimised to an Arab conference and the concept of having one Khalifa for Muslim Ummah was killed and buried.
Al Saud’s dubious role came up again in recent world politics wherein it colluded with Israel against Palestinians or played in the hands of Trump to establish Jerusalem as Israeli capital or destroying cultural heritages in Makkah and Medina to fulfil Wahabi ideology. The list is long.
Coming back to the Treaty of Lausanne II; this treaty will end in 2023. The whole world is focusing its attention on Erdogan as to what he would do. According to some historians, 2016 revolt against him was part of a big game in which the west wanted to replace him with a weak leader Fateh Ullah Gulen who lives in America. But the plot failed because public came out in support of Erdogan. Reason? Throughout his political career, he concentrated on public welfare be that was in health, education, social life or religious order. After gaining public confidence, he loosened the grip of all-powerful yet slave-minded and secular army generals over politics. In foreign policy, he played independent humanitarian role whether it was in Libyan crisis, Afghanistan war, or Arab Spring. He could be blamed for having business deals with Israel, but those deals were signed before his time. His strict policies towards Israel are known. Tossing between presidential and parliamentarian types of governments, recently he changed the political system to presidential type and became the strongest leader till 2023 and beyond. His actions show that he wants to rewrite the history and resurrect global Muslim unity. And that’s where Pakistan comes in the picture.
Pakistan; this country was created in illogical manner, as the British, the Hindus and vast number of Muslims were against its creation. The person who led the mission was a nonpracticing Muslim who; couldn’t speak local language; dressed in western attire; and enjoyed alcohol. The elites called him a dreamer and Mullah labelled him a Kafir who was struggling for Kafiristan. Against all odds, he created a Muslim country. Right from beginning, the country stumbled in problems when differences appeared between politicians and army generals. With passing time, things went from bad to worse and in the process, the essential pillars of democracy started to crumble destroying the institutions and opening the doors to corruption in massive scale. Politics became heavens for money launderers and corrupt politicians. Corruption trickled down to civil military bureaucracy and onwards to judiciary. Everything was in a mess and every department was going down the drain with exception of one : the custodians of nuclear assets. The program went ahead despite all the surrounding corruption and the pressures. Logically the program should have been hit like other institutions and gone down the gutter. But it didn’t. Illogical? Yes.
The reason it stood pressures was because Pakistan was going to play important role in global politics and nuclear assets were essential in that role. Before reaching to that status, Pakistan needed two reformations; first, Jihad against corruption; second, a strong civilian leadership. To end corruption, top judiciary came into action and started cleansing departments such as health, education and civil and social services. Is it the duty of judiciary to involve in these activities? No. But like Pakistan’s illogical creation, the societal evils were to be cleansed illogically. And the military which always interfered in civil activities took a back seat watching the cleansing process go ahead. Illogical? Very much so.
Up until now, we did not see an honest leader in any top religio-political parties until Imran Khan jumped into arena and soon he became the symbol of honesty in politics. No body took him seriously for two decades until he showed his political strength in Lahore. Whatever he may be in his private life, his financial uprightness is unquestionable. Then, something very illogical happened. Imran Khan who was known as Taliban Khan suddenly took a U-turn and started following the Sufi path. The Mullahs cursed him and started calling him Kafir as their predecessors called Jinnah a Kafir.
The question is what has this change in Pakistani politics and emergence of Imran Khan to do with Turkish politics and Erdogan? Let’s connect the dots;
1. Turkey has a strong leader as Erdogan. Pakistan is going to have an equally strong leader as Imran Khan.
2. Erdogan follows spiritual Islam. Imran Khan started to follow similar path.
3. Recently, Erdogan openly supported Imran Khan meaning by an understanding is being developed between the two leaders.
4. Erdogan changed Turkey’s political system and became the all-powerful president till 2023 and beyond. Imran is working hard to change Pakistan’s corrupt political system.
5. Turks have soft corner for Pakistanis and always been grateful to Muslims of the subcontinent to support them in Khilafat movement which was crushed by the then world super powers.
6. The treaty of Lausanne II is going to end in 2023. And Erdogan is preparing Turkey for resurrection of Khilafat movement and reviving Muslim unity. He has hinted this in his speeches.
7. Turkey would need a strong Muslim country such as Pakistan which happened to be nuclear power. The Muslim ancestors of present Pakistan helped their Turk brothers a century ago. I don’t see any reason why Pakistan wouldn’t repeat that help and make Pak-Turkey a coalition power having strong armies laced with nuclear capabilities.
8. Pakistan’s nuclear assets would give a boost to the two strongest armies of brotherly Muslim countries and play an essential deterrent role.
9. The year 2023 can become a turning point for the Muslim world when Pak-Turk coalition could lead the Islamic Ummah in global politics with strong message of peaceful coexistence with all. After all, this is the actual message of spiritual Islam.
10. The rest of the likeminded Muslim countries would follow suite and start joining the coalition and soon will become a strong unified Muslim power.