K N Pandita
Lately, Farooq Abdullah said he would approach China for helping Kashmiris retrieve the special status. He is disappointed with the Western powers and the Islamic countries. Simultaneously, his political adversary, the Jama’at-e-Islami (JeI) is excited over the revival of the Ottoman Empire’s past Islamic grandeur to reach Kashmir in its new avatar — Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. It shows that Kashmiri leaders want to re-enact the old story of inviting a foreign power to rule over them.
Pakistan has already made China a stakeholder in Kashmir dispute; Aksaichin, KK Highway, CPEC and now the significant presence of PLA personnel in Gilgit-Baltistan including a strong contingent of Chinese secret service as a combined Sino-Pakistani bulwark against any “surprise attack” by India. This explains why in recent days Pakistani Prime Minister and some of his cabinet ministers have been raising the hoax of an impending Indian attack on Gilgit – Baltistan. Intensifying firing and shelling along the LoC is a corollary to their Indophobia narrative. It shows that Pakistan’s foreign policy is dictated by embedded animus towards India and not by her national interests.
President Erdogan is aspiring for greater political control not just in Turkey, but also in the Middle East and Europe. He has extended Islamic influence by encouraging the construction of multiple mosques and leaning more towards the Islamic faith and Islamic Brotherhood (Ikhwan). He takes a cue from an idealistic outlook of the Ottoman Empire’s past glory. However, his vision of reconciling Islam in the West has become doubtful because of the suppression of democratic reforms, support for radical Islamism, and an aggressive foreign policy that harms the Turkish population. Erdogan now supports Islamists, particularly the Islamic Brotherhood (Ikhwan) -in countries such as Syria, Egypt, Libya, and Tunisia, which in essence is complementing the ideology of Jamaat-e-Islami of the Indian sub-continent.
Erdogan’s aspiration for the leadership of the Sunni Muslims worldwide has brought him into ideological conflict with pragmatic and business savvy Arab littoral states that are not perennially afflicted with anti-Israel psychosis as the Islamic countries of non-Semitic origin are. The divide in the ummah is deep.
Turkey uses Sunni religious platforms to establish its influence throughout the Muslim world. For example, in Cyprus, Erdogan has been reluctant to decrease his control of oil and natural gas exploration. He has placed Turkish troops in Iraq, in a bid to uphold his brutal war against the ethnic minority of the Kurds. His adoption of hard power tactics is also evident from Turkey’s establishment of military bases in Qatar and Somalia. Turkey and Qatar are unified in their support for the Muslim Brotherhood, which poses a threat to Saudi Arabia and other Persian Gulf monarchies.
Erdogan’s vision of worldwide Islamic leadership does not seem to be realistic. The Muslim Brotherhood’s unpopularity, in the Middle East and around the globe, has hampered Turkey’s influence. Political punditry presumes that Turkey’s slide into authoritarianism will set the country back in terms of democracy, civil rights and economic development. Erdogan has already alienated some Middle Eastern countries such as Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.
The core of our proposition is the Turkey-Pakistan nexus that now conjures up the leadership of the ummah since Iran and Indonesia, the two other counterfeit Islamic comrades both have fallen off the track. It is premature to assess the fragility of the duo and then their final separation.
In a bid to make amends to his waning popularity, Erdogan tries to re-establish it wherever conditions are conducive. In the process, he has fallen in the trap of Pakistani ISI. He came out openly against India regarding Kashmir dispute. On the behest of the ISI, and after taking some top-secret Kashmirian moles into confidence, according to the Zee News Report of Dec 20, 2020 “a new Turkey-Pakistan nexus has emerged in the recent past, leading to a complex network of academia, media, and NGOs working to propagate anti-India propaganda.”
Being highly critical of the Indian government the Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) and Anadolu Agency are at the forefront of the anti-India campaign. These have been raising fake questions as does the Pakistani media on Kashmiris and Muslims and CAA-NRC. Turkish newspaper Yeni Safak on 26 December 2019 published an article titled ‘Gujarat Killer’, attacking PM Narendra Modi and terming CAA as anti-Muslim legislation.
Turkish propaganda has also successfully penetrated the Indian society. Popular Turkish serials like Ertugrul and Baba are circulated widely in the Kashmir Valley, provoking anti-India sentiments in the Kashmiris. These serials remind one of Omar Khalid that ran in Regal cinema of Srinagar for nearly a year before the eruption of insurgency. Videos of these serials have reached inside the digital gadgets across India, further provoking pro-Muslim sentiments. The Report goes on to says: “A journalist from Jammu and Kashmir, now working in Anadolu Agency, earlier worked with many Indian news organisations and was closely connected to Pakistani agencies, working at their directions and is actively indulged in anti-India activities in Turkey. He is in contact with Pakistani ISI and planning to launch a website dedicated to anti- India content to further the narratives of “saffronization” and “fascism” by India. ISI is directly funding the website, which is in the final stage of launching. They plan to build a network in India as well. The website might contain a range of content including blogs, infographics, reviews, research papers, primary resources, etc. Based on the modus operandi of similar platforms, the website might be launched as a part of any Turkey-based organisation – to add legitimacy to it,” a source aware of this development said Zee News
Similarly, Sayyid Ali Shah Geelani’s grand-daughter Ruwa Shah hosts a weekly talk show in English titled ‘The Ruwa Shah Show’ on TRT promoting the anti-India stance on Kashmir. In like of the above, Ahmed Bin Qasim, son of Muhammad Qasim Faktoo and Dukhteran-e-Millat leader Asiya Andrabi is one of the key contributors to the TRT with an anti-India stance.
“Journalists from Turkish media organisations have been able to visit India under the veil of tourist visa to carry out reporting/information gathering from India. India based chapters of these media organisations have been facilitating their visas working under the guise of being sub-sets of Turkish media organisations. Pakistani agencies are actively launching several platforms dedicated to producing anti-India content as affiliates/parts of Turkish media organisations/NGOs.” a senior security officer told Zee News.
Turkey is also promoting and accelerating anti-India activities through educational institutions. She provides lucrative scholarships and tuning exchange programs for the Kashmiri Muslim students of Indian side to study in Turkey through state-sponsored NGOs. Once the students land in Turkey, they are taken over by the Pakistani proxies operating there to push anti-India agenda.
“The list of organisations providing scholarships to Indian students is long and includes Turkish Cooperation and Coordination Agency (TIKA), Presidency of Turks Abroad and Related Communities (YTB), Yunnus Emre Institute (YE), Turkey’s Diyanet Foundation (TDV), Turkish Airlines, Anadolu Agency, and Turkey Youth Foundation (TUGVA). Most of these organisations have direct connections with the Turkish Government and President Erdogan or his son Bilal Erdogan. Once students land in Turkey, they remain out of the radar of the Indian Embassy. Similarly, the TUGYS also functions under Bilal Erdogan’s patronage and has made strong inroads within India by establishing connections with Islamic outfits in the Indian security apparatus. Agencies are not ruling out the involvement of the Turkish Embassy in New Delhi and consulates in Hyderabad and Mumbai. Returning students act as facilitators for the scholarship programmes as propagators of pro-Turkish agenda. Indian institutions like Jamia Millia Islamia, Jawaharlal Nehru University, and Maulana Azad National Urdu University run courses in Turkish language and have become centres of activities of
It has been discovered that a couple of Kashmiri students associated with Istanbul Sabahattin Zaim University (IZU), under the scholarship of Pakistan government-sponsored organisation Institute of Dialogue, Development, & Diplomatic Studies (IDDS), have been participating in such campaigns. Besides Islamic and Kashmiri outfits, the Turkish Embassy has also been forging alliances with Indian NGOs to further its agenda.
Indian ‘activists’ carrying out anti-India agenda is increasingly sponsored and invited to Turkey. The meetings of these organisations with Turkish diplomats and leaders have been facilitated by Pakistani proxies at multiple instances. Several Turkey-based NGO’s have also collaborated with and provided space to anti-India voices in the Indian academia and civil society. It is noteworthy that there is a significant Pakistani influence on some of these organisations and the others are run directly by Pakistani proxies.
Besides these covert designs, Turkey has also resorted to few open and brazen anti-India moves. To magnify and converge the strength of anti-India elements, Turkey has been pro-actively issuing citizenship to Indian Kashmiris engaged in promoting pro-Pakistan narrative. Most of these individuals have been employed by any of the three sectors: Turkish state media, non-profit organisations, and educational institutions.
The Eurasian Times of 30 December 2020 gave a vivid description under the caption ‘Turkey using its media to propagate ‘Anti-India sentiments’ in Kashmir”, which is succinctly reproduced here:
” Like Pakistan, Turkey also runs propaganda about the alleged oppression of Kashmiris by the Indian government. Pakistan had pressured the Organisation of Islamic Community (OIC), led by Saudi Arabia, to pass a resolution against the Indian government’s decision on the abrogation of Articles 370 and 35A of the Constitution.
Sharing good relations with New Delhi, Riyadh had termed the Kashmir conflict as India’s “internal matter” and avoided discussion on it in the OIC. The Indian media report claims that Turkey was using soft power to provoke Kashmiris. Turkish serials like Ertugrul and Baba were freely circulated in the Valley. The report alleges that Turkey offers “lucrative scholarships and exchange programs for Indian Kashmiri and Muslim students”.
During his visit to Pakistan earlier this year, Turkish President had said that Kashmir was as important to Turkey as it is to Pakistan. “We have never forgotten and will never forget the help which the Pakistani people extended by sharing their bread during our War of Independence. And now, Kashmir is and will be the same for us,” he had said.
The crucial piece of news reported by the prestigious news source The Eurasian Times in its issue of 4 December 2020 — in turn, borrowed from the Greek sources—- speaks of Turkey wanting militia from Syrian National Army to be relocated to Kashmir. It indicated that similar recruitment activity for a Kashmiri operation was ongoing in Azaz, Jarablus, Bab, and Idlib.
The paper wrote under the heading “After Backing Pakistan on Kashmir, Is Turkey’s Erdogan Hiring Syrian Mercenaries to fight In the Valley’ as follows: “For some time now, Turkey has been making attempts to grow its influence among the Muslims in South Asia to challenge Saudi Arabia’s dominance in the Islamic world. As part of this move, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan has consistently backed Pakistan over the Kashmir issue. Erdogan is ready to send mercenaries from NE Syria to Kashmir. SNA militia commander “Sulayman Shah Brigades”, Muhammed Abu Amsha, told 5 days ago to militia members in the ?iyê area near Afrin that Turkey wants to relocate some units to Kashmir.
It appears that in near future Pakistan, Turkey and China will be coordinating their Kashmir plan to initiate a full-fledged campaign of wresting Kashmir from the hands of India. What will happen to the “wrested Kasmir” nobody can predict? In other words, this could be the process for launching Ghazvatul Hind or the Indian campaign about which Muslim theologians have been making predictions. War cries from Pakistan are raised louder and louder with each passing day and Turkey is all set to fight the only existing kafir (heretic) in fulfilment of the Quranic injunctions. India would do better to remember that these hostile countries are marking the time to execute their plan of bringing Khalaft to Kashmir at a time when the inside enemies of India’s patriotic forces find that the iron is hot to be hit.
(The writer is the former Director of the Central Asian Studies, Kashmir University.)
K N Pandita