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Unmatched Friendship between Pakistan and Turkey!


Dr Lubna Zaheer

Generally, the bilateral relations between countries are subject to their foreign policy. In the context of changing international scenario, the effects of changes in foreign policy also impact the relations between countries. This principle is also applicable on Pakistan’s foreign relations. However, our relations with Saudi Arabia, Turkey and China have never declined. Pakistan has a deep bond of affection, love and devotion with these countries. Among the Muslim countries, we love Saudi Arabia and Turkey the most. Our devotion to Saudi Arabia is religious in nature as this holy land has blessed with Bayt Allah (The Kaaba) and the Roza-e-Rasool (PBUH).

The case of Turkey is different for Pakistan. Our love for Turkey has a historical background. We have a very close relationship with Turkey, especially in the context of the Khilafat movement. In the 19th century, the Ottoman Empire was disintegrating and the land of Turkey was the target of the Western colonial powers. At that time, the Muslims living in India had a vigorous movement against British imperialism and in support of Turkey. Turkey was fighting its independence war under the leadership of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk. During this period of tribulation, the Muslims of the subcontinent showed great love and solidarity with the Ottoman Caliphate and the Turks. Turks were facing financial difficulties due to the war situation. They needed help. During this period, the Muslims of the subcontinent actively helped the Turks. Muslim women even sent their valuable jewelry to help the Turks.

If we review the history, it is found that during the Khilafat Movement, Muslims organized rallies and processions in favor of Turkey. In the mosques, special prayers were offered. In this historical context, the Turks were always grateful for the love and sacrifice of the Muslims living in India. The Turks never forgot this sacrifice of Indian Muslims. It is also important to mention that the thinker of Pakistan Dr Allama Muhammad Iqbal and the founder of Pakistan Quaid-i-Azam Muhammad Ali Jinnah were also supporters of the Turks and admirers of the Turkish Quaid Mustafa Kamal Pasha.

After Pakistan’s creation, Turkey was one of the first countries to establish its embassy in Pakistan. In every regime, the Turkish government supported Pakistan and Pakistanis. At the international and diplomatic level, Pakistan and Turkey have always supported each other’s positions and points of view. Turkey has always supported Pakistan on the Kashmir issue. The same is the case with Pakistan. Pakistan stood by the Turkish people during the terrible earthquake in Turkey in 1999. Turkey also helped Pakistan a lot during natural calamities. During the 2010 floods, when Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan visited, his wife took off her precious necklace and donated it to the flood victims. Because of the role that Recep Tayyip Erdogan has played in the construction and development of Turkey, the people of Pakistan and the political leadership are very impressed by him. Estimate the warmth of Pak-Turkey relations that when Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s daughter got married, the then Prime Minister of Pakistan Nawaz Sharif personally attended the wedding and signed the marriage certificate as a witness.


Despite the passage of more than a century, the sacrifice and love of the time of the resistance are still remembered by the Turkish leadership as well as the Turkish people. This benevolence is not just preserved in the history books. Turks have passed this love, devotion and benevolence to their new generation. Even today, the young generation of Turkey expresses this benevolence. When we go to Turkey, Turks as Pakistanis meet us with great love and warmth. We mention with great devotion and love the sacrifices and assistance of our elders before the establishment of Pakistan. Turkey has opened its doors for Pakistani students, workers, entrepreneurs, professors etc. I also had the opportunity to visit Turkey a few times. The truth is that I was well respected everywhere as a Pakistani. Turkish friends kept mentioning the Khilafat movement in every gathering and meeting. I have a dozen friends in Turkey. These friends keep in touch with me. I remember that the first time I went to Turkey, one of my professor friends, Denise Ekshe, put all her work aside and took me around Istanbul and fed me Turkish food. The love of Turks is really amazing. That’s why I always enjoy going to Turkey, traveling and meeting Turks. I intend to make a series of documentaries on Turkey. The cities of Turkey, its culture and Turkish citizens are so beautiful that many interesting documentaries can be made on them.

However, apart from the tourism and cultural aspects, it is very important that we as a nation learn from Turkey’s rapid development. Some work has been done in the past. The PML-N, following Recep Tayyip Erdogan, had laid the foundation for metros and other development projects during his rule. I also had the opportunity to work with some Turks and found that these people are truly admirable. The truth is one is pleasantly surprised by the way Turks work. Instead of empty talks, they believe in practical steps. Their focus is on results rather than image and publicity. Mohsin Balchi, an important representative of the Turkish government, is engaged in various construction and development works in Pakistan with great excellence and speed. I met him on some issues without any bureaucratic hurdles. Some issues were settled while sitting. Immediately after the initial meeting, he came with his team to settle other matters. Seeing his method, I realized how Turkey has made so much progress.

There are many protocol problems in Pakistan. When a file goes to an officer’s office, months and years usually

pass. The working method of the Turks is different. A mention of Turkey is incomplete without Dr Khalil Toqar whom love for Pakistan is well known. Mr Toqar has a wonderful personality. For years he has been active for the development of cultural relations between Pakistan and Turkey. When he was in Turkey, he was considered as Pakistan’s ambassador to Turkey. It is not unreasonable to name his efforts as diplomacy for the promotion of Pakistan-Turkey friendship. As diplomacy is under discussion, the new Consul General of Turkey Durmuş Baştuğ  must also be mentioned. I had an opportunity to meet him a few days ago and also found him Pakistan lover. When I met Mr Bastug, I thought every Turk, from an ordinary citizen to a high diplomatic official, loves Pakistan. A few days ago, Amir Mahmood Jafari arranged a sitting to discuss the personality and poetry of Turkey’s famous Sufi poet Yunus Emre. Consul General Durmuş Baştuğ was also invited in the event. Here too, he expressed his love for Pakistan.

Just as Turks have feelings of benevolence for Pakistanis, we Pakistanis also owe our love to Turkey. However, it is very important to understand that we still have a lot to learn from Turkey. The way Turkey has developed is through solid planning and hard work, improved quality of education, showed its significance in the United Nations. It is necessary that we learn all this from the Turks and move forward in the race of progress and development.

Dr Lubna Zaheer
— The author is an academician and political analyst

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of Lahore Mirror