Comparing Turkey with Pakistan

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The 1st similarity between Pakistan and Turkey is the both countries’ flags.  Both of the flags have large crescent moon on them representing Islam.  The difference is apparent too.  Turkish flag has secular color red, it represents the importance of secularism in Turkey.  The combination of crescent moon and red color tells us that Turkey is an Islamic as well as a secular country.  The crescent moon and green color on Pakistan’s flag tell us that Islam is a very important part of the country.

The white portion on Pakistan’s flag, which is 1/4th of the flag, is for minorities in Pakistan.  May be Turkish flag doesn’t need anything white because of secular red. The white and red haven’t been able to protect minorities in both countries.  In Turkey liberal ideas of secularism have been put aside in favor of nationalism and minorities such as Kurds have been particularly treated harshly.  Turkish government has tried all that it can to crush Kurdish language and culture.  The massacre of Ahmadis is one example how minorities are being treated in Pakistan. The only difference is that there has been gradual improvement in the situation of minorities in Turkey.  The situation in Pakistan has gotten worse–from having the very first foreign minister as Ahmadi—to Ahamdis having no rights whatsoever.

The 2nd similarity between the both countries is the geography.  Turkey is one of the most ideally located country in the world.  It links Middle East and Europe; it also links Central Asia and Europe; it borders Eastern Europe and Southern Europe; it is also linked to Mediterranean Sea, Aegean Sea, and the Bosporus.  Pakistan links South Asia, central Asia, Middle East, East Asia and Arabian Sea.

Turkey and Pakistan both have had strained relations with their neighbors. In the case of Turkey, it has had very difficult relations with Greece because of past colonial history. Exact parallel can be drawn with Pakistan’s relations with India.  Anatolian peninsula was historically a Greece land and Turks gradually moved in starting from 11th century. This is also true of Pakistan; it was historically an Indian land and birthplace of Indus valley civilization. The island of Cyprus is disputed between Turkey and Greece. Kashmir is a disputed territory between Pakistan and India.

Turkey also had very bad relations with its other neighbor such as Armenia—because of World War I and still disputed genocide of Armenians—also with its Arab neighbors because of colonial past and suspicions. Pakistan also has had very bad relation with Afghanistan, and Pakistan is hated more in Afghanistan than even in India.  The relations with Iran also haven’t been easy especially after the Iranian revolution and Pakistan’s alliance with America and Iran’s hated for Taliban. Pakistan has only enjoyed good relations with one of its neighbor China.

The difference is that Turkey has managed to develop peaceful and beneficial relations with all of its neighbors now. It includes Greece, Cyprus, and especially Arab world. If anything Pakistan’s relations with its neighbors have gotten worse. The stand off with India still stands to the east, and to the west a very hostile government is in power in Afghanistan.

The 3rd similarity between Pakistan and Turkey has been the democracy and its sporadic interruption by military.  The difference is that Turkish democracy has reached the teenage stage and Pakistan’s democracy is still in its infant phase. This maturity in Turkish democracy has made it possible for elected government in Turkey to marginalize army in government affairs. In Pakistan, army is still involved in government affairs–now more than ever.

The 4th similarity between the both countries has been the economic problems that both countries have faced and especially inflation. The difference is that Turkey has managed to tackle its inflation and has been one the highest growing economy for the past decade. Turkey is now the 17th largest economy in the world. Pakistan having almost twice the size of Turkey ‘s population is 27th largest economy in the world. Pakistan is still struggling with such fundamental problems as inflation and is at the mercy of commodity prices.

The 5th similarity and for me which begs the most attention is the global standing of the both countries. Both countries have been vocal about international issues such as the Palestinian problem.  The difference is that Turkey has been vocal only very recently, and Pakistan has been for quite some time. Pervez Musharraf when President of Pakistan famously offered to mediate between Arabs and Israelis.

This difference is very important; Turkey only became vocal after fixing its own house. Turkey mended fences with all of its neighbors, it strengthened its democracy, its economy is one of the strongest growing, and its people are better of f than ever before. It is a real emerging power; when Turkey raises its voice people listen.  When Pakistan raises its voice no one cares or listens. We need to fix our own house first and then care about issues such as Palestinian problem and others.

When Turkey couldn’t afford to anger Israel it did not. If Turkey had tried to help Palestinians twenty years ago–it wouldn’t have mattered—because it was relatively weak country.  It strongly condemned flotilla attack now because it is in position to do so.  We need to learn a lot from Turkey—despite having so many similarities with Pakistan—Turkey is far ahead of it.

About Umar Tosheeb

I have BA in History and Political Science. Planning on going to graduate school. After doing metric from Pakistan, I came to USA. Originally from Gujrat Pakistan. I have interest in Pakistani history, politics and languages.

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