This picture was published in The Nation newspaper on August 08, 2016. A huge flag of Turkey is being waved by the people of Turkey to mark their protest against the failed military coup attempt on July 15, 2016.
My View of the Picture:
On July 16, 2015 when I read the newspaper in the morning “Military takes over in Turkey”, a smile came to my face because episodes of military takeover are very common in Muslim countries. The reasoning behind coups in Muslim countries is a different topic that I will discuss some other time. Here I want to discuss something different that happened on July 15th.
Coups for Pakistani people are not new. We have a very rich history of coups. Simply put, because we were and are mostly blessed by politicians who are nothing other than corrupt. That’s why most of the people put their hopes in a military coup and consider it an alternate option. Coups in Pakistan have become easy and the norm, especially after the coup of 1958. We are indeed strange. First we bring those corrupt politicians to power and then expect that they will do good. But after a short period we start looking towards the Pakistan Army for rescue. Such situations are wisely manipulated by the army. It topples the government with small numbers of soldiers without meeting any resistance because we have always kept ourselves mentally ready for this to happen. Thank God, since the end of our last military dictatorship, no intervention has been made yet by the army, though we cannot say absolutely that the 1999 coup was the last coup in the history of Pakistan. But we hope that the army will remain in barracks, that politicians will learn the lesson of the past and that the people of Pakistan will understand that rather than depending on others to rescue us, we should change ourselves and bring honest politicians to the assemblies in the first place.
So above was a little history of coups in Pakistan. Now back to the recent failed military takeover attempt in Turkey. The reason why I am writing this article on this picture and topic, is not because it was breaking news, but because, in this case, the military faction that wanted to take over the country was stopped by the people of Turkey, along with others in the forces who were opposed to the coup. 165 civilians were killed and thousands of civilians were there to fight and stand in front of the tanks and the guns of the plotters of the coup. It was remarkable indeed the way people resisted. I am really impressed. A key cause for the attempt failing must have been that only a section of the armed forces was involved instead of the whole army. If the whole army had tried to topple the government then I think it would be something different.
An important part of this whole drama was the allegations made by the President of Turkey, Mr. Tayyip Erdogan against the leader of the Gulen community in Turkey, Fethullah Gulen. Mr. Gulen is an interesting personality, a 75 year old businessman and a cleric who has large numbers of followers in Turkey but lives in America. America? Yes America and don’t laugh. Now you will wonder why I bring America most of the time into my discussion. Come on! If every source of evil takes us to America or England then it is not my fault. Rather than raising your eyebrow to me for pointing out USA or England most of the time, I think you should ask them why everything bad and suspicious leads back towards them. Anyhow, Mr. Gulen since 1999 is living in America in self-imposed exile and leading his Gulen/Hizmat movement from there.
This self-imposed exile reminds me of Altaf Bhai’s self-imposed exile and extra-ordinary care which is being given to him by the British Government. Just like Gulen, Altaf Bhai is handling his party affairs and spreading terrorism while sitting far away from Pakistan.
The Gulen movement is apparently a non-violent movement and the followers of this movement are fervent believers. The movement has schools around the world including both in America and Pakistan. The followers of Gulen think that Gulen is the “awaited one”, the Imam Mahdi. However, after the incident of July 15, 2016, Mr. Erdogan has accused Gulen of inciting the coup and asked USA to extradite him. But still nothing has happened because USA thinks that there is no proof that Gulen is behind that coup. Of course there is no chance that America can be behind it because every one knows that America is a country which only distributes the sweetest candies of democracy throughout the world and not terrorism.
In the conflict of Tayyip-Gulen it is very hard to say who is wrong and who is right. Because Mr. Erdogan was also under fire for allegations of corruption and there are assertions that Turkey is involved in assisting ISIS, the fully sponsored terrorist organization. It should also not be forgotten that Mr. Gulen was the same person with whom AKP, the party of Mr. Erdogan, was in alliance against the hard-core secularists. But in 2012 they separated and parted ways when Tayyip felt that Gulen’s followers were systematically sneaking into the armed forces, judiciary etc. to capture state power.
With reference to the USA, Gulen was also accused of funding Hilary Clinton’s election campaign indirectly. However, if we look at the other side, the way Mr. Erdogan is controlling Turkey’s institutions and taking revenge, the chances are high that the already polarized country might become more polarized with the passage of time, which of course would not be good for Turkey.
It is hard to reach the crux of this conflict because every party involved in it is facing charges of terrorism, corruption and nepotism. However, there is one thing upon which I can reach a conclusion and that is the courage of Turkish people, who did a great job to stand in front of the tanks and the guns and risked their lives to prove that running the government is the right of people and not the right of any single institution or group trying to enter through back door channels.