An interesting byplay took place during a webinar organized by Karachi Council on Foreign Relations (KCFR) to discuss “Pakistan-Turkey Relationship”, where Ihsan Mustafa Yurdakul, Ambassador of Turkey to Pakistan, was the chief guest.
Dwelling upon the commonalities and similarities between Turkey and Pakistan, PPP’s Farhatullah Babar raised the subject of the military’s interference in politics in Turkey and Pakistan.
“Turkey and Pakistan have witnessed the hanging of their elected prime ministers by the military and both have seen the military’s growing influence in politics, which Turkey has been able to almost eliminate. He asked the ambassador a very leading question, “Would you, Excellency, share experiences of Turkey stopping the military from interfering in politics?”
Realizing that this was a deliberately loaded political question, Ambassador Yurdakul addressed it diplomatically, replying that the journey to democracy was not easy for Turkey. It was only because of the will of the Turkish people who were eager to show their trust in the ballot boxes and share opinion about their rulers, being very sensitive about the exercise of this right.
“During the rule of Mr Erdogan’s party, emphasis on rule of law and will of people was in the forefront and it was only with peoples’ efforts we were able to uphold the principle of civilian rule. As long as you have the structure in civilian hands we can rule out intervention of any sort. This is what happens in nature, if there is a vacuum in the earth, different elements/chemicals will fill up that vacuum. The best way is not to leave a vacuum.”
In his concluding remarks, Mr Ikram Sehgal, Chairman KCFR, stated that during the 2016 Turkish coup d’état, Mr Erdogan was on a holiday, he flew straight into the eye of the storm in Istanbul without wasting time and met the challenge head on. Since the coup was led by elements in the Air Force, his jet was ordered to be shot down. His pilot used different civilian airline codes to escape recognition. The coup failed because Mr Erdogan was not corrupt and people in vast numbers flooded the streets, not only in Istanbul but in other cities. With the full support of the Turkish Armed Forces, the coup was put down but not without bloodshed.
Ikram Sehgal asked when have the people in Pakistan ever come out to support their overthrown political leaders. The coups have always been bloodless because the people knew the leaders were corrupt to the core and had made their lives miserable. Why should they risk their lives for them? Despite anger and disappointment in the face of dismal service delivery the govt carries on if the leaders are perceived to be honest. He said that Army interventions will never take place or be successful anywhere if the political leaders are not corrupt.