The Pakistani Spectator

A Candid Blog

Comparing Turkey with Pakistan

By Umar Tosheeb • Jun 22nd, 2010 • Category: Politics, Worth A Second Look • 8 Comments

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.

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Click For More Articles By 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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8 Responses »

  1. @ Umar,

    Do not mislead the readers by your unfounded statements, next time do some research.

    FYI, Red is a traditional Islamic color and was the color used by the Ottoman Empire, who formerly ruled Turkey, but the empire collapsed in 1918. The crescent and star are ancient symbols of Islam and are considered to be signs of good luck. Red has been prominent in Turkish flags for 700 years. The star and crescent are Muslim symbols, but also have a long pre-Islamic past in Asia Minor. The basic form of the national flag was apparently established in 1793 under Ottoman Sultan Selim III, when the green flags used by the navy were changed to red and a white crescent and multi-pointed star were added.

  2. @amir. The secular red and the white in Pakistan flag is the main difference here. It is important for a country to promote secularism and tolerance to be successful at one point or the other. And the author talks wrong about minorities. Minorities have less rights in Pakistan.

  3. Ok I agree with Amir here. I think the author needs to do a little more research. As far as Pakistan is concerened I don’t really think the minorities have been respected the way they should be. The ahmedi incident should be an example here.

  4. What a disaster we Muslims recognize by the Flags thereafter further division in Sunni, Shia, Wahabi, Deobandi, Aihlay-Sunnat, Aihlay-Hadees blah blah - HOW PITY further division Arabi, Ajami, Sindhi, Urdu-Mohajir, Punjabi, Pathan Baluchi, — here lies the point this bitter weakness & division is the most powerful armament of the West & other Muslims rivals. But Pls. pardon me — my Muslims brothers & sisters, Shia, Sunni, Wahabis etc is not ISLAM.

    There is no place of such factions in Islam right now — the same shall be settled down with the passage of time first of all we must face to those who announced CRUSADE as this was the VOICE of their INNER which was withdrawal with the same as this was not RECORDED.All of us with the FAITH of Ibrahim-As are MUSLIMS ALL of us with the FAITH of Isa-As as are MUSLIMS — All of us with the FAITH of Muhammad Ss are MUSLIMS. From time to time, The Prophets passes down only One FLAG. The FLAG that says. LA ILLAHA ILLALAH. BE UNITED as ONE UMMAH, diverse but one, one but diverse. HARMONY is ISLAM.

    Eik Hoon Muslim Haram Kee Pasbani Kay Lee-ay-
    Neel Kay Sahil Say Laykur Taba Khakay Khash-Gur-

  5. @Hira Mir and Ali Hamdani,

    I think the author is saying the exact opposite of what you think he is saying; that is, the author very clearly draws comparison between the mistreatment meted out to Ahmedis and the Kurds in Turkey. I do not see the author as saying that minorities have full rights or are “respected the way they should be” anywhere in the whole article!

    Please read first and then comment because the mistreatment of minorities in Pakistan is clearly pointed out in the second paragraph.

  6. @rafay. I wanted to suggest that in the 2nd para the author says that the minority rights are nill but that is not the case. The author writes false. There are many areas in Pakistan where minorities are respected. It is not like all is dark and gloomy in the country.

  7. Adnan Arshad Mansoor i appreciate you for your clear and very right comments. I must say we need harmony harmony harmony under the true spirit of Islam that is what our Last Prophet brought to us i.e. Hamrmony of all colours with unity of Islam.

  8. Umar Tosheeb has written a very informative article about the commonalities between the Pakistani and Turkish culture I thank him fir such a wise comparision and information. It would definetely help me in writing my sop for turkish scholarship as well. Umar I am also a student of political science and development studies. Now seeking for scholarship for Phd. If you would be able to guide me in this rgard you can send me your advice with proper guidance.

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