Kardeş /noun./ (pronouncing ‘kar-dish’); Turkish for Sibling /Brother. A term which you would recurrently get referred to as, if you’re a Pakistani traveling in Turkey. Earlier this year, in April, indecorous videos and photographs of Turkish women and children surfaced on social media which were allegedly recorded by immigrants residing from Pakistan, creating a furor amongst the Turks, who justifiably responded by scathing retorts and taking their socials by storm with their ‘Get Out Pakistani men’ campaign which top trended in its major cosmopolitans.
“ ‘Not all men’ yet all women feel unsafe around Pakistani men. Ironic, isn’t it? ”
-Anoushey Ashraf (Actress)
Bridging the illustrious Europeans to the prodigious Asians stands the mighty state of the Turks. What was once the capital state of the Seljuks then the relatively more popular Imperialists Ottomans. Who met their fate after WW1, placed under mandates and Sevres (treaty). With French, Greek and British troops residing in its provinces, which was deeply resented by the Turks. Kudos to Mustafa Kemal Pasha and his men that fought valiantly and by 1922 not only got rid of these foreign forces but also made them sign the Treaty of Lausanne under which they were granted full autonomy of the modern-day Turkey. Kemal Ataturk; ideologically a nationalist, secularist and reformist, served as Turkey’s first president (1923-38). During his short-lived 15-year tenure, his ‘Kemalistic’ policies revamped Turkey into an industrial and democratic state. To foster rapid development of the newly-formed state, Ataturk introduced European laws mainly Swiss while concurrently separating politics and religion in order to minimize hindrances in Westernizing the land of the Turks.
Relations between the Indian Muslims(Now known as Pakistan) and Ottomans date back decades before the establishment of the two states; Muslims residing from Northwestern British India reportedly sent large amounts of financial aid to the declining Ottoman Empire during the Turkish War of Independence (1919). Similarly, in the aftermath of the disastrous 2005 earthquake of Abbottabad, Turkey gave generous donations worth 108 million dollars. This evinces how religious fraternity has always acted as a cohesion between the two nations. Pak-Turk diplomatic relations were established ever since the formation of Pakistan in 1947. The Turks along with the African and Arab Union recognized the then largest independent rather premature muslim country (Pakistan) and supported its successful bid to become a member of the UN.
“Comprehensive discussions have been held between us and them (Pakistan) about our bilateral relations, regional and global issues. We look forward to cooperating (at all levels) with Pakistan as they continue to prosper,” Erdoğan said, while addressing a joint news conference.
Following the one on one and delegation level talks in Ankara. He was of the view that Pakistan and Turkey enjoy strong people-to-people, business-to-business and chamber-to-chamber linkages. Islamabad and Ankara tend to share strong military ties as well. With joint training sessions and trading of arms being a common practice between the militaries. Statistically speaking, Turkish arms transfers to Pakistan totaled $112 million from 2016-2019, according to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI). Turkey continues to procure aircraft spares and drones from Pakistan while concomitantly becoming Pakistan’s fourth-largest source of arms export, surpassing The US (As reported by MEI). Furthermore, last year over 500 000 Pakistani tourists travelled to Turkey while more than 18 000 Pakistanis currently reside there including students, employees and tradesmen.
With ties knitted as tight as Pakistan has with Turkey, Turkish retaliation with anti-Pakistan sentiments did give a staunch slap to the common Pakistani. In response, the Pakistani consulate did release an advisory addressing people residing in Turkey, to be cautious while taking pictures and videos to ‘avoid misunderstandings’. Although the advisory was released to minimize such disgraceful acts, it paradoxically perpetuated it. Colossal amounts of inappropriate TikToks of innocent and incognisant women and children walking on streets, bus stops and malls getting secretly filmed and harassed by Pakistani men started getting viral. Two Pakistani nationals were even detained by the Turkish authorities after tracing their respective social media accounts. But this isn’t the only instance we have seen Pakistani nationals getting arrested in Turkey. A staggering number of 45 000 to 60 000 Pakistanis present in Turkey are illegal immigrants. Not only do these people enter into a country through illicit means but are later taken in as felonies for heinous and vile acts such as abductions, embezzlement, drug and human trafficking. Not only does this insinuate squalidness but also gradually mitigates relations between countries regardless of how ‘close’ they may seem.
“The health and safety of our women (and children) is our utmost priority. They (Harassers) should be brutally punished and thrown out of our lands.” -Ahmer Bursin , Turkish Influencer.
Ironically, the same Pakistani men, rather than minding their own business, are seen curating quotidian traffic on Esra Bilgiçs’ Instagram comment section. Assailing her with questions regarding her propriety based on her ‘provocative’ sense of fashion. Yet when it comes to their own morality, imperviousness and silence is all we see. It’s safe to say Pakistan has failed to institute measures to assuage the Turkish outrage and as a resident of Pakistan, honestly it’s agonizing and heart-wrenching. We as a generation are morally repugnant, engulfed with arrant banality. Darkness at the helm with no sheen of hope.