In what comes as a valentines gift for Pakistanis, Turkey has offered to extend its citizenship to Pakistani nationals. A plan to work out dual citizenship is currently under process, which will facilitate the people from Turkey to take up Pakistani citizenship, and Pakistanis to take up Turkish citizenship. Turkey and Pakistan have been cuddling with each other for the past few years, after the radical Recep Tayyip Erdogan took over the reigns of Turkey as its President.
The plan was announced during a meeting between Pakistan’s Interior Minister, Ijaz Ahmad Shah and Turkish Ambassador to Pakistan Ihsan Mustafa Yurdakul. As the move was proposed by Yurdakul, Shah responded by saying that the draft for the law is “under consideration” and that “we hope to reach a mutual conclusion soon,” according to the Interior Ministry of Pakistan.
The move will further solidify the already strong bilateral relations between the two countries. While Pakistanis will now invade Turkey and claim its citizenship in hordes, the same cannot be said for Turkish citizens, who are more than happy without being identified as Pakistanis.
It must be remembered that Pakistan has a particularly terrible reputation among the world community, with all Pakistani nationals being extended extra security courtesies at international airports. This move will unilaterally benefit only Pakistanis, who are sick and tired of being identified as citizens of a terror state and who would go to any extend for an image makeover and a cure from their prevailing identity crisis.
However, one person in Turkey will also immensely reap the benefits of this policy decision, who turns out to be the President himself. Erdogan has been always viewed as a misfit in what was otherwise a substantially liberal political setup in Turkey before 2014. However, 2014-2016 saw the rise of strongmen across the world, from Trump in the United States to Shinzo Abe in Japan, to our very own Narendra Modi in India.
Erdogan is a by-product of the similar trend. Turkish society is largely a liberal and tourist-friendly one, with the country being one of the very few visibly modern societies despite having Islam as the majority religion in the country. It must be noted that Turkey ranked as the 6th most popular tourist destination in the world in 2014 attracting around 42 million foreign tourists. But the stats declined to around 36 million in 2015, and to around 25 million in 2016. However, the number of foreign visitors increased to 32 million in 2017, and in 2018 the country witnessed a footfall of 39.5 million visitors.
Erdogan has dreams of reviving the erstwhile Ottoman empire, and making Turkey the political capital of Islam once again. He, for himself, wants to assume the role of the Caliph, i.e., the supreme leader of the Muslim brotherhood across the world.
Turkish society, however, does not provide Erdogan with the legroom to try such stunts. As mentioned earlier, the Turkish people are modern and not radical in their approach to life, and are also pro-economic development, wanting the growth of tourism in Turkey. This does not allow Erdogan to suddenly usurp the title of Caliph and declare control of the Muslim brotherhood. Therefore, he requires the help of imported Islamists, which are found in abundance in Pakistan.
The proposed dual citizenship between Turkey and Pakistan would effectively translate into Pakistanis traveling anywhere within Turkey without any restrictions, and they would do what they do best – radicalize the people of Turkey. A rise in Islamism in Turkey would directly facilitate the rise of Erdogan as the religious leader of Muslims worldwide. His dreams of resurrecting a neo-Ottoman empire would fructify if Pakistanis wield their influence over the people of Turkey and make them believe that religion is what should be their primary concern.
Of course, the rise of Erdogan as the religious leader of Muslims is something which would not be acceptable to Saudi Arabia. Malaysia, under an equally radical Prime Minister Mahathir is also eyeing for political supremacy over Asian Muslims, if not Muslims worldwide. This led to Saudi arm-twisting Pakistan into boycotting a high-level summit in Malaysia last year. Similarly, Saudi will not take Erdogan’s surreptitious plan to project himself as a strongman lying down.
After Erdogan’s statements at the United Nations General Assembly on Kashmir, India has also royally snubbed the Islamist president, with PM Modi going to the extent of cancelling a scheduled state visit to Turkey last year. Facing the heat from several fronts, Erdogan has now been left to snuggle with only Pakistan at his disposal. Although it would disgust the man, however, the expertise of Pakistanis in radically Islamising people is next to none. His move at handing out citizenship to Pakistanis will indeed help him nearing his goals of becoming the Caliph, but of course, nobody around him is willing to hand him a victory on a platter after a certain extent.