Eighty-four days and the lockdown in the Valley continues. Various media platforms and social media groups are being flooded with the reports from the Valley, some showing videos of brutal torture and assaults, while other stories throw light on how people are being arrested in the middle of the night. Work has stopped, and there is an acute shortage of daily necessities, etc. There is no end to all the news that we are hearing, reading or watching across these platforms, but there are people from Jammu and its vicinity, who deny all of these news stories that are appearing every single day.
There are two sides of the coin, similarly, there are stories from both ends. People sitting far away from Kashmir cannot imagine the pain of being in a situation where every move or action is restricted. But I feel the move taken by the Government of India was planned while keeping in mind the history of Kashmir. For over three decades, Kashmir has seen widespread violence and bloodshed. Millions of innocent lives have been lost. The Kashmiri Pandits were banished from their land overnight.
One of the exceptions has been Turkey’s President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, who at the 74th UN General Assembly (UNGA) (New York), had addressed the Kashmir issue. The President stated that “Despite the resolutions adopted by the UN Security Council; Kashmir is still besieged and 8 million people are still stuck; they cannot get out.” He also stated that “In order to look for their (Kashmiris) safe future along with their Pakistani & Indian neighbours, it is imperative for them to solve this problem through a dialogue on the basis of Justice & equality instead of conflict.” But, Kashmir is not our neighbour. it was and is an integral part of India. India has always supported Turkey in terms of Economic and Commercial growth.
During President Erdoğan’s visit to New Delhi in May 2017, he emphasised how Free Trade Agreement negotiations should start immediately. Furthermore, he asked Turkish investors to invest in India and Indian investors to invest in Turkey. He called India, “the world’s largest economy and fastest growing free trade economy”.
He further added how India and Turkey could develop a partnership in the field of construction, energy, and tourism. In return, our Prime Minister Narendra Modi showed interest in collaborating with the Turkish construction sector to build 50 million housing by 2022, which will mark the 150th anniversary of our country’s independence. The bilateral trade between India and Turkey stood at around USD 8.6 billion in 2018 and is expected to grow to US$10 billion by the year 2020.
On the other hand, I feel that Pakistan, who, in spite of having excellent political relations with Turkey, has never been able to transform these historic ties into better trade and economic cooperation. The projects undertaken by the Turkish construction sector from India include the Lucknow subway construction, Mumbai subway construction and a railway tunnel construction in Jammu & Kashmir.
The Tourism sector saw a significant increase from 7.756 in 2017 to 16.430 in 2018 as per the reports from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Republic of Turkey). Yes, in spite of all the trade growth from India, President Erdoğan seemingly backed backs Pakistan for the Kashmir issue. However, Prime Minister Modi’s apparent move of backing Turkey’s three close neighbours and strong rivals- Greece, Armenia, and Cyprus was an immediate and strong defense against Turkey. All three countries share disharmony with Turkey.
State heads of these countries condemned Turkey at the UNGA speech. Perhaps, this attitude of Turkey in dealing with India is completely self- contradictory.