Learning from the Turkish model


But the road map must be homespun

Of the non-oil exporting Muslim economies, Turkey’s is the largest, Pakistan is at third, with Malaysia sandwiched in between at second. But the gap between the second and the third is indeed yawning. It shall remain a point of conjecture. If Gen. Zia had not happened, we had not wasted 30-odd years in a war-like entanglement owing to Afghanistan and remained free of other debilitating actions and influences of the deep state, Pakistan may still have been far closer to the top, than lagging at a distant third. These days the Turkish PM, Recip Tayyeb Erdogan is here along with a large contingent of businessmen looking for investment opportunities that could provide the much needed shot in the arm to our economy. Erdogan has said things that Pakistan needs to learn from, for these come from a man who has, other than a few hiccups along the way, most competently led a dispensation that has in its 10 years in power seen Turkey grow like never before in around a hundred years, if not more. As a consequence for the first time since Kemal Ataturk valiantly saved Turkey from Balkanization at the end of World War I, it has acquired diplomatic sway in the region as well as respect worldwide.

There are indeed lessons for us all. But most of all our politicians, especially those in power, need to learn more than merely kowtowing to China and Turkey that the revival and success of these economies and their global status as an upshot, has owed itself to – as Erdogan said in tones most ringing – ‘political stability’, and putting together ‘a legal framework and an accurate banking system’. There is more to it. What Erdogan left unsaid, but our politicians must infer, if they can, from how the similar-to-ours armed forces has been made to retreat to and confine itself to where it belongs, in the barracks, through stellar performance of the party in power – for 10 years on the bounce.

Despite so much bogging it down, Pakistan has its own inherent strengths – democracy and a vocal opposition, independent judiciary, free media and a boisterous civil society are just the most vibrant parts of it. And while it must learn and take assistance from China, Turkey – or even from India – and enhance economic and diplomatic relations with all, what it needs to do to realize its potential is built on its own strengths.