Pakistan, Turkey and the art of the coup

July 9, 2008

Pakistan Army Chief General Pervez Kayani with President Pervez Musharraf“There can be few countries where the art of the coup is so finely honed as in Turkey…” So starts this Reuters blog by Ralph Boulton about the Turkish Army.

It’s well worth a read for anyone interested in comparing Pakistan and Turkey, two Muslim countries which have both struggled to reconcile secularism, democracy, Islam and domination by the military — and all the more so given President Pervez Musharraf’s own admiration for Turkey.

The armies of Turkey and Pakistan are very different — the former considering itself as a champion of secularism and the latter promoting Islam, particularly under President Zia.

But there are similarities too. The Turkish Army does not relish being in power, preferring to exercise control from behind the scenes. But the same argument can be heard in Pakistan, where many would say that getting involved in politics undermines the fighting strength of the Pakistan Army.

In all their interventions and coups, writes Ralph, Turkey’s generals have never acted flagrantly against popular will, but rather stepped in to restore order.  Sounds familiar? The difference is that they then stepped down again to make way for an elected government. Are there lessons in Turkey for Pakistan? Or is Turkey itself sliding into choppier waters, as Ralph’s blog suggests?


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Whatever. Pakistan and Turkey are two brotherly muslim countries and have excellent relations. Apart from Army, the Air forces of both countries have very close ties, both have F-16s and other modern aircrafts and conduct joint exercises regularly.
Long Live Pak-Turkish friendship.

Posted by UMPK | Report as abusive

Mohammad ali jinnah,mustafa kemal ataturk and the shah of iran were all highly educated westernized leaders who wanted to impose modernity on their populations rather than let them develop at their own pace.

All were magnificent failiures resulting in torn countries with the elite looking up to the west for inspiration and the vast majority rejecting the over the top secularism and westernization of their societies.

Forgive my bragging but I think it is great that we in India never tried the burquas to miniskirts great leap of the shah or the banning of the veil by turkey sort of force fed westernizations even though with 200 years of british rule there was no derth of westernized Indians in newly independant India.
Slow and steady wins the race eh.

Posted by Shantanu Chatterjee | Report as abusive

Shantanu Chatterjee
Every one knows the real face of India. India is not a secular country, it is a country dominated by hindus whereby muslim and christian minorities are oppressed. Even in hindus there is a caste system, whereby the Dalits ‘low caste hindus’ are oppressed by high caste hindus. These internal divisions and a fundamental hindu mentality is the real face of India. So instead of finding faults look at your own Nehru and Gandhi and the Hindu fundamentalist state they have created.

Posted by Dalit | Report as abusive

“Turkey’s generals have never acted flagrantly against popular will.” This statement is patently false, given the history of Turkish military’s execution and/or removal of Turkish prime ministers and governments of the predecessor parties (under various names) of the current ruling AK party of prime minister Erdogan. Of course, they do it from behind the scenes using the unelected secular judges. And they suppress the will of people to have personal choice in how they dress themselves, like the scarf ban. The giant Ata Turk statues looming over many Turkish cities are often or constantly protected by the Turkish military after some of them were demolished or defaced by the people.

Posted by Riaz Haq | Report as abusive

Pakistan has been dominated by the elite whereby ordinary citizens have had little say in the direction the country is going in, bar few leaders in the past. The general population of Pakistan is now at a crucial stage where true faces of a hidden scar are being exposed not only in the general population but also in the allegiance and direction of thought. If the view of the majority if the population is to be taken as the democratic decision at such times; when sons have been sacrificed in a war few believe in on the northern borders and undue mounting pressure from the east; the resulting answer is of a people unsatisfied with the warmogerors and the coordinators of terror attacks.

Posted by Shaun Bloomberg | Report as abusive

ok! num1 pakistan, might have terroism but india has much more pakistan in ranking 11th for the most dangerous country on the other hand india is ranking 4th

pick something

Posted by Hassan | Report as abusive

Pakistan has been a true brother and friend to the Turkish government, nation and people. We have co-operated in many ways including the Turkish support with Pakistan’s war on terror against the Baloch Liberation Army’s Terrorists and how Pakistan’s supported Turkey’s war against the PKK. I as a Turkish nationalist think that the Mumbai attacks were simply an inside job and an evil conspiracy against the people of Pakistan. We the people of Turkiye and Pakistan will stand united and we are peaceful, freedom-loving people and we will make sure no Greeks, Armenians or Indians get in our way. Both Kemalists and Islamists of Turkey are Pro-Pakistan!

Posted by Mustafa | Report as abusive

[…] both have struggled with secularism and Islam.  Both have had, as a result, numerous military interventions that have overthrown their respective country’s government.  As predominately agrarian […]

Posted by Turkey, Pakistan & Lessons of Entrepreneurship – Elmira Bayrasli « CHUP! – Changing Up Pakistan | Report as abusive

I live in Istanbul. I’ve visited Pakistan 3 times in the past 15 years for business. The country is very culturally backwards and dirty. Everyone from the politicians to the taxi drivers are corrupt and try to rip you off. I can respect how close our economic & military ties are becoming though. Pakistan needs to combat its ridiculously high birth rate, give its womens rights and try to achieve real secularism. Erdogan has been butchering Kemal Ataturks reforms while he has been in office. I went to India as well. I do not understand why our ties aren’t stronger with them. There are just as many Muslims in India as in Pakistan. They are 10x larger population wise and their economy is growing 5 times faster than Pakistan. I have looked into this “Oppression of Christians and Muslims” and its a myth. Look at the laws. Muslims in India can have 4 brides, marry their cousins/siblings and the Sharia is implemented for domestic issues. The government in India also pays for Muslims to go on hajj.

Posted by Secularist1 | Report as abusive