Kashmir invites khalafat in its new avatar

By 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, a new-found Islamist. 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; ceding a large chunk of Indian Territory in Aksaichin to her, collaborating with her in the Karakorum Highway through the disputed territory and the endorsement of the CPEC, and now the significant presence of PLA personnel in Gilgit-Baltistan, including a strong contingent of secret service outfits, stands refurbished by nearly twenty thousand Pakistani troops despite massive protestation by the local population, is the 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 the Indophobia narrative widely built up by Pakistan official and private media. It shows that Pakistan’s foreign policy is dictated by acute animus towards India and not the national interests.

President Erdogan of Turkey is aspiring for greater political control not just in Turkey, but also in the Middle East and Europe. In 2002 the Justice and Development Party (Adalet ve Kalkinma Partisi; AKP) a conservative but non-confessional democratic party rooted in Islamism swept the parliamentary elections under the leadership of Abdullah Gul. Erdogan, the then party leader and mayor of Istanbul was ineligible to serve in parliament or as prime minister because of a 1998 conviction. The ineligibility was overcome through a 2002 constitutional amendment and he was elected to the Parliament a year later and replaced Gul as the premier. Some steps that Erdogan took after assuming power included economic reforms and religious transformations of Turkish society. He has extended Islamic influence by encouraging the construction of multiple mosques and leaning more towards the Islamic faith. He takes a cue from an idealistic outlook of the past grandeur of the Ottoman Empire. 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. Turkey has today shunned its pre-2003 secularist outlook.

His supporters portray him as a model leader of all Muslims, escalating to the point where 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 has made no secret of his aspiration for the leadership of the Sunni Muslims all over the world. This has brought him into ideological conflict with pragmatic and business savvy Arab littoral states not perennially afflicted with anti-Israel psychosis as the Islamic countries of non-Semitic origin are. Last year, the OIC summit sponsored by Indonesian neo-Islamist premier Mahathir Muhammad ended up in a fiasco when the Saudi Prince Muhammad bin Salman summoned Pakistani premier to Riyadh and reproach him for taking a lead in the anti-Saudi and anti-OIC calumny. Imran Khan had to eat the humble pie. Nevertheless, the divide in the ummah is deep.

He uses his influence with the Muslim Brotherhood to generate soft power, a decision that has progressively developed into a propaganda tool. For example, because of the aforementioned connections, Turkey uses Sunni religious arenas, provides scholarships to Turkish universities, and pays for heritage trips to Turkey to establish its influence throughout the Muslim world. These actions specifically target the Middle Eastern youth to manipulate them to serve Erdogan’s long-term Islamic agenda.

Turkey uses Sunni religious platforms, provides scholarships to Turkish universities, and pays for heritage trips to Turkey to establish its influence throughout the Muslim world. These actions specifically target the Middle Eastern youth to manipulate them to serve his long-term Islamic agenda. In addition to supporting Islamist groups abroad, North Africa both economically and militarily. For example, in Cyprus, Erdogan has been reluctant to decrease his control of oil and natural gas exploration. He has also placed Turkish troops in Iraq, in a bid to uphold his brutal war against the ethnic minority of the Kurds.

When the fighting in Syria was at its height, Erdogan allowed foreign mercenaries to cross the Turkish border for supporting the fighters against the embattled Syrian President Basher al-Assad. 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. In Somalia, Turkey has established its military foothold under the guise of training Somali soldiers.

Erdogan has abandoned most democratic reforms he had previously advocated and has turned towards methodical Islamization of Turkey, destroying democratic pillars and secular values that had previously worked in transforming Turkey into a modern state. Association with Islamist groups and the militarization of Turkey’s foreign policy have not helped Erdogan’s cause either.

Erdogan’s vision of worldwide Islamic leadership does not seem to be realistic. The reason is that the combination of support for Islamist groups and his vigorous foreign policy approach both have created problems for Turkey with virtually all of her neighbours. The Muslim Brotherhood’s unpopularity, both 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, thus creating more turmoil instead of unity. Islamization of Turkey is likely to drive the rest of Europe further away, eliminating chances of collaboration with the West.

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 – the former because of her Shi’a label and the latter because of seeping political instability as well as the imbecility of leadership. At the same time, it is not difficult to assess the fragility of the axis duo and then the final parting of ways.

In a bid to make amends to his waning popularity, nationally as well as internationally, Erdogan frantically tries to re-establish it wherever conditions are conducive. In the process, he has fallen in the trap of Pakistani ISI and he came out openly against India regarding Kashmir dispute. On the behest of the ISI, and after taking some top-secret Kashmirian conduits 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.” It has become a backdoor and safe haven for anti-India elements to work on Pakistan’s behest as well as the converging point for anti-India actors and Pakistani agencies.

Being highly critical of the Indian government the Turkish Radio and Television (TRT) and Anadolu Agency have been at the forefront, leading the anti-India campaign. These have raised a barrage of issues like so-called atrocities 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 the Kashmiris to wage a war against India for freedom. These serials depict the victory of a small 2000 strong Turkish tribe against the invaders. It is reminiscent of Omar Khalid that was screened for more than a year in one cinema hall of Kashmir before the eruption of insurgency. Transcending the Kashmir Valley, videos of these serials have reached inside the digital gadgets across India, further provoking pro-Muslim sentiments to fight India. 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 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. Observers from the Western countries are the target audience of the website. However, 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. The show is 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.

” It has also been found that 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 for India under tourist visa category. Several Pakistani media platforms are also working under the guise of being sub-sets of Turkish media organisations. There are credible pieces of evidence to establish the fact that 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.

Besides the media, Turkey is also promoting and accelerating anti-India activities through educational institutions – in Turkey as well as within India. She has been providing lucrative scholarships and Tuning exchange programs for Indian Kashmiri and Muslim students to study in Turkey through state-sponsored NGOs. Once the students land in Turkey, they are approached and taken over by the Pakistani proxies operating there. Thus, pushing together 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. The TYB directly runs under the patronage of President Erdogan’s son Bilal Erdogan. The organisation never takes the Government of India in the loop of the selection process of students. Once students land in Turkey, they remain out of the radar of the Indian Embassy in Turkey. Similarly, the TUGYS also functions under Bilal Erdogan’s patronage and has made strong inroads within India by establishing connections with Islamic outfits in Indian security agencies are not ruling out the involvement of the Turkish Embassy in New Delhi and consulates in Hyderabad and Mumbai. Turkish Embassy also maintains a close connection with the students returning to India after the conclusion of their studies in Turkey and engages them in its activities. The returned students also 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 the Turkish Embassy.

Indian security agencies are not ruling out the involvement of the Turkish Embassy in New Delhi and consulates in Hyderabad and Mumbai. Turkish Embassy also maintains a close connection with the students returning to India after the conclusion of their studies in Turkey and engages them in its activities. The returned students also 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 the Turkish Embassy.

The most important fact to note is that the students under Turkish scholarship programmes are made to engage in the anti-India campaigns. 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. Many of these students have earlier worked for leading media houses in India. 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 are increasingly being sponsored and invited to Turkey. The meetings of these organisations with Turkish diplomats and leaders have been facilitated by Pakistani proxies at multiple instances. A number of these 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 coverts 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. The list of such individuals includes Baba Umar, Riaz-ul-Khaliq, Tasheen Nazar, besides others. Most of such individuals have been employed by either of the three sectors: Turkish state media, non-profit organisations, and educational institutions.

Writing under the caption ‘ Turkey using its media to propagate ‘Anti-India sentiments’ in Kashmir, The Eurasian Times of 30 December 2020 gave a vivid insight story, which is succinctly reproduced here.

Like Pakistan, Turkey also runs propaganda about the alleged oppression of Kashmiris by the Indian government. Following the abrogation of Article 370, which stripped Kashmir of its special status, Pakistan has been at forefront of taking the matter to international platforms.

Along with other Muslim countries like Malaysia and Turkey, 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.

Riyadh, which shares good relations with New Delhi, 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 is using soft power to provoke Kashmiris. Turkish serials like Ertugrul and Baba are circulated in the Valley. The report alleges that Turkey offers “lucrative scholarships and exchange programs for Indian Kashmiri and Muslim students”.

Turkish President Erdogan, during his visit to Pakistan earlier this year, 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 news is that the Eurasian Times had earlier cited a Greek media reports that Turkey wanted 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 Eurasian Times of 4 December 2020 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 Siyê 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 India” 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. Knp627@gmail.com).

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