Over recent years Turkey and Pakistan have been strengthening their diplomatic and military ties. They are on the path of developing a special relationship, it is evident by their attempt to grant dual citizenship to nationals of both countries. They have vowed to stand with each other through thick and thin.
The test of time came when India, on August 5, 2019, revoked the article 370 in Jammu and Kashmir, which granted special status to this region which other states of India do not have. This move by the Indian Government came as a surprise to many. In those testing times, Turkey was one of the first countries to come to support Pakistan. Since then, it has been supportive but also highlighting the Kashmir cause on all the fronts.
Turkey has been upfront and vocal about its position on Kashmir without considering its ties with India. It dared not to sit on the fence and took a responsible decision- to stand against hostile, support international law and fundamental human rights of people of Kashmir. Turkey has shown support to Pakistan on many occasions. The day after the revocation of article 370, Turkey was one of the first countries to support Pakistan’s stance on the Kashmir issue. It urged India to solve the dispute through dialogue and, according to UN Security Council resolutions- Pakistan’s position on Kashmir.
Recep Tayyip Erdogan has raised his voice against Indian brutality in Indian Occupied Kashmir on international forums. He put forward the Kashmir case before the world during his speech in UN General Assembly in September 2019, knowing the sensitivity of Pakistan with regards to Kashmir; he again validated Turkey’s unending support during his visit to Pakistan in February 2020.
The question then arises: when none of the Muslim brother countries said a word to appease Pakistan, what causes Turkey to stand by its side? While all other friendly states kept their national economic interests first, why is turkey ready to lose its market for Pakistan.
There are varying views to answer above mentioned queries. One perspective is that both states have friendly relations; they have aligned vision for Pan-Islamism; they share cultural ties, and Muslims of subcontinent supported the Khilafat movement in the 1920s, and at present, both are trying to strike a balance between east and west. But is it enough for a state to bet so much for another state? Only those living in fool’s paradise will believe that.
The other perspective is that Turkey’s constant support to Pakistan cannot be seen as a free lunch. Among many other reasons, two reasons stand out. One reason may be an attempt to counter Saudia Arabia, which has a massive influence on Pakistan’s foreign policy and be a significant player in the region’s geopolitics. Saudia Arabia and Turkey are rivals in the Muslim world. Turkey has attempted to dig out Pakistan from this influence by siding with Pakistan when Saudia Arabia put its national interest in India first and has backed India’s position. Turkey jumped on this opportunity to get itself a larger space in Pakistan.
Second, Turkey is also looking for sustenance because its relationship with the United States and Europe – on the issue of Syrian refugees and failed coup détente – is going down the hill. It is vying to find that support in a fellow Islamic country, Pakistan. Moreover, like Pakistan, Turkey is trying to balance its relations between west- Europe and the US- and east – Russia and China. Pakistan can be lending a hand for this purpose.
Turkey has paid the price for its unequivocal support for Kashmir. India -in its attempt to isolate Pakistan- has been trying to influence or woo Pakistan’s friends indirectly. It has been scrupulously responding to Turkey’s offensive and pro-Pakistan statements. India does not want Turkey to go to Pakistan’s block completely. Therefore, India’s response to Turkey’s offensive has been subtle and indirect, but it has damaged Turkey one way or another. After Erdogan’s UN speech, Narendra Modi canceled his visit to Turkey. He also stated that the statements by Turkey are factually incorrect and biased. To put economic pressure on Turkey, India reduced imports from Turkey and also cut its defence exports to the former. As the saying goes by, ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend’ India improved its relations with Cyprus and Armenia. Both of these states have tainted relations with Turkey. By doing so, India vies to put pressure on Turkey to abandon its backing to Pakistan.
On the anniversary of the abrogation of Article, Turkey has repeated its position on the issue. It has also offered to mediate between India and Pakistan. Pakistan accepted the offer.
To succinct, it can be said that Turkey undoubtedly came to support its brother country in the time of need. It has also suffered economically for its decision to stand behind Pakistan through thick and thin. Pakistan should never forget Turkey’s relentless efforts to support Kashmir’s cause.
Konpal Tahir is a chemical engineer from UET Lahore. She also qualified the CSS examinations in 2018. She has interests in major power politics and environmentalism.